Dementia is characterised by impairment of memory, communication, and a reduced ability to make informed decisions. Many elderly people with dementia also have additional issues that come with age, such as reduced mobility. It can be difficult to find family activities that work around these symptoms and issues, but there are several ways you can spend time with your relative and even help to improve their condition at the same time.
Keep the brain engaged with music
Many studies around dementia care have focused on the benefits of music, using it as a form of treatment for the illness. Music has been shown to activate previously unreachable parts of the brain, improving memory and encouraging interaction even from those in advanced stages of the illness. Aside from all those benefits, it’s also worth considering that an old song is enjoyable in itself. Some cinemas are now hosting special dementia screenings, with lights left on low, and audiences encouraged to move around or sing along in whatever way they like to films and musicals. Almost everyone in these screenings is either someone who is living with dementia or a caregiver, and the ticket prices may be reduced or even free in some cases. The Alzheimer’s Society has been raising awareness of dementia screenings in recent years, so check with your local cinema to see what they can offer – it’s a wonderful way of using music to connect with your loved one. Alternatively, The Alzheimer’s Society runs singing groups around the country known as ‘Singing for the Brain’, which can offer a more personal experience. Choosing music from your relative’s era or songs that they specifically remember is an ideal way to encourage them to join in and sing with you.
Bring the family together with arts and crafts
A lot of families where one person is living with dementia can enjoy arts and crafts together, such as simple drawing or painting. Others like to do puzzles or crosswords. For many people, these activities can open up conversations, lighten the mood, and help with alleviating some of the symptoms of dementia. The important thing to remember is that your relative is still an individual, and their individual preferences should be taken into account: for example, if they used to draw in their spare time then bring some paper and pencils along rather than knitting needles. You don’t have to treat it as a cure but simply look at it as a fun activity, because that’s what it will be. This is also a great opportunity for younger members of the family to join in as well. For people living with dementia, talking and interacting with others has the added benefit of stimulating the brain and keeping them engaged. Start with simple activities, and if they’re not having fun then you can take a break or do something else. Most importantly – make sure they’re enjoying themselves.
Take time to enjoy life
Low self-esteem combined with mood changes brought on by dementia can make some people living with dementia reluctant to try new activities, but it’s important to keep them entertained and active. Many of the symptoms of dementia are related to boredom or lack of stimulation, and conversely can be lessened by simply spending time with your relative.
When you or a loved one is diagnosed with dementia, the first thing on your mind should be assessing your financial situation and making plans for care. However, these matters are complicated and can eat into the precious time that you have left. At Eldermera, we can help with the legal issues surrounding dementia as well as issues around ongoing care. You may also wish to consider lasting power of attorney or elderly care deputyship – the earlier these are arranged, the easier it will be to focus on what’s really important.
To discuss your circumstances surrounding dementia, use our online form to schedule a free consultation with a care advocate at Eldermera.
Alternatively, call us on:
0330 022 5778
0207 030 4923