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sallycinnamon's avatar

Activities for elderly people with dementia?

Asked by sallycinnamon (97 points ) January 3rd, 2010

I work in a home for elderly people with dementia. I arrange activities for them, which usually ends up with us all playing Dominoes.

I just wondered if anyone had any experience with this and had any ideas for Activities that I could do to keep them motivated and happy.

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15 Answers

marinelife's avatar

I understand that advanced dementia patients enjoy interacting with baby dolls.

jeffgoldblumsprivatefacilities's avatar

My grandmother had advanced dementia right up until she passed. It’s a rough thing to see, and can be very difficult to deal with. I have to commend you for working with people with dementia, I know it can’t be easy.

With my grandmother, it always helped to have some music on in the background. It seemed like on certain days she could connect with the music, and this is when she was most lucid. If you are planning activities, I would suggest playing some calming music in the background, and seeing how the elderly people you work with react to it. Best of luck.

sallycinnamon's avatar

Thank you great answers.
Yeah they do love music, I arranged for a singer to come in and he did all the classics for them and they where up dancing which was amazing to see.

sevenfourteen's avatar

I don’t have anything specific besides bingo or rummy but whatever they used to do when they were younger is probably what they’re going to want to do most.

jaytkay's avatar

I have not had to deal with this and my parents’ generation is nearing their 80s.

@sallycinnamon You give me hope I will be able to deal with this if it comes. Seriously. I avoid the subject and appreciate people who face it.

MagsRags's avatar

My mom suffered from dementia for the last 4–5 years before her death. We were able to keep her at home, but it was hard. We did some bead stringing and really simple paint by numbers together while she was still somewhat functional.

I belong to a reader’s theater group that goes to various assisted living facilities aka nursing homes on a regular basis to do staged readings. It didn’t work out for us to perform for the “memory care” folks, it’s too hard for them to follow along except in a few cases where we were doing something very familiar.

Talking with activity directors of various facilities, it sounded like they had pretty good results with activities that involved rhythm. This link has some specific suggestions.

Also, is there a group in your area that brings “therapy” pets into care facilities? I’ve often thought that would be a great way to connect and give simple pleasure to someone who is fading away.

Buttonstc's avatar

The therapy pets is a wonderful idea. You can find out if there is a group convenient to your area.

Another thought I had was if there is a college or music school nearby where students would be willing to come in once a week or so to rehearse their performing skills.

Classical music is generally appreciated by folks in that age group as well as the type of songs they grew up with. Big Band music, Folk Music etc. You can ask some of those who are more lucid for suggestions. Their memory is much better for things farther back rather than recent, generally speaking.

sallycinnamon's avatar

Thank you guys, I’ll get in contact with local schools, really good idea!
I’m just looking for therapy pets now.
That link is really useful Mags. Thanks.

bunnygrl's avatar

@sallycinnamon One of my friends organises activities for the residents of the care home he works at and he recently started running a movie evening (although they watch early around 5pm I believe) once a week where he shows dvds. He was telling me recently that the ones which so far have gone down really really well have been the classic ones like the Wizard of Oz, My Fair Lady and Casablanca :-)

Also last year, for the anniversary of D Day (6th June), he organised a lovely lunch and had a female singer come in to sing WW2 songs. Everyone who works there, and guests all dressed in WW2 themed clothing, and the dining room was decorated with bunting and flags, he showed me some pics and everyone seemed to really enjoy it, especially the sing along with the lady singer, who was dressed in uniform and looked amazing, just like something straight out of a movie.

He also has a hairdresser/barber come in every two weeks and someone to do pedicures the following week, alternating weeks, so that every week there is a little treat,(and having them come twice a month ensures that everyone is able to get an appointment at least once a month) and craft afternoons once a week where they make cards or paint or those who are able to crochet or knit. The pet therapy is also a great idea, since so many people are unable to take their pets into care with them. Well done honey, its a wonderful thing you’re doing,
hugs xx

gailcalled's avatar

We do jig saw puzzles with my mother and have retaught her how to play solitaire. I always lay out a hand for her before I leave, after visiting. She also likes the very simple crossword puzzle books.

Rarebear's avatar

Our band goes once a month to a nursing facility to play. They seem to enjoy that.

YARNLADY's avatar

Some recent studies by Kaiser Permanente have show that there is actual signs of improvement when physical activity is part of the regular daily program. This can be simple line dancing, or playing with balls. My Goodsearch.com turned up a lot of websites that can help in addition to making a contribution to my favorite charity.

wek's avatar

I have worked on this for the last three years with my parents. I agree with many of the suggestions. Having some type of simple exercise routine not only helps with balance and memory it also improves circulation and processing of medications thru the body. The exercise can even be based on a seated position. Games need to be at a level that is appropriate. Unless very familiar to the senior card games like bridge and hearts can require too much memory while solitaire and checkers are almost a step at a time. With the “old movie and song theme” period items like posters really help recall. A theme series like John Wayne, Audrey Hepburn, etc along with some background reading on their career is good. Add popcorn or old style candies.

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