How to make activities meaningful for people with dementia

How to make activities meaningful for people with dementia

Caring for someone who has dementia involves more than simply looking after their basic needs. People living with dementia need stimulation as much as everyone else, and to engage in activities that are meaningful to them.

Taking part in meaningful activities boosts a person’s quality of life, whether they have dementia or not. Everybody needs to experience value in their lives, but sometimes, people living with dementia may withdraw from activities and engagement, or it may become difficult to include loved ones with dementia in the same way they once participated.

There are lots of ways to involve loved ones with dementia in hobbies or activities that they’ll find enjoyable or interesting. Meaningful activities can range from simple tasks that form part of day-to-day life to leisure trips or meeting up with friends.

Meaningful moments

To make daily tasks more meaningful for a loved one with dementia, encourage the individual to use their senses. For example:

Sight – What can they see outside the window, in a piece of art or in the garden?

Sound – Listen to music, relaxing nature sounds or ask what they hear on a trip to the coast.

Smell – What can they smell when baking at home, eating at a café or visiting a flower garden?

Taste – Experiment with different flavours and textures if the person is willing.

Touch – What does the person feel when they stroke a pet or squeeze a cuddly toy?

Beyond the senses, there are lots of activities to try that can help add value to a person’s life. Try:

Gardening – A great way to exercise while enjoying the benefits of the great outdoors, gardening helps people connect with nature. If the person isn’t mobile enough or doesn’t have access to a garden, planting seeds in pots on the window sill can be just as rewarding.

Dancing – Who doesn’t enjoy dancing to their favourite song?! Music memory is stored in a part of the brain that’s often untouched be dementia, and dancing to music from their youth may stir happy memories and emotions for the person, as well as being a fun way to exercise.

Painting and crafts – Verbal communication isn’t always easy for people with dementia. Painting and craft activities allow them to express themselves non-verbally through their creativity. This type of tactile activity can also boost hand-to-eye coordination and provide a rewarding sense of achievement.

Reminiscing – A memory box containing personal items can be a helpful way of helping someone with dementia connect with the past, often triggering positive memories. Old photos, letters and objects relating to a person’s past career or hobbies can be great conversation prompts and help the person and their family or friends stay connected.

Why are meaningful activities important?

Taking part in meaningful activities has a range of benefits for someone living with dementia, including:

  • Boosting self-esteem
  • Maintaining relationships with family and friends
  • Keeping them connected within their community
  • Providing a sense of purpose
  • Maintaining independence and skills
  • Giving them the autonomy to make choices or decisions

For more information, tips and insights into the meaningful activities we organise for our clients, follow us on Facebook here or get in touch with us on 0161 537 0983.