A dementia diagnosis upon a neurological exam is difficult to swallow. A progressive brain disease, dementia slowly leads to cognitive decline. Memory is impaired, as are thinking and reasoning abilities. However, the good news is that memory-building activities help slow down the disease’s progression.
While regular physical exercise strengthens the body (and slows down dementia’s progression), frequent mind exercises work the brain just as efficiently. Mental workouts strengthen existing brain cells. These cognitive exercises also increase the number of and connections between brain cells.
Stimulating mental exercises include ones that engage the person living with dementia. They are designed to encourage self-expression, develop emotional connections with people or animals, evoke memories and reduce bouts of anxiety and irritability that are common in dementia patients.
Check out the following memory building activities for dementia patients:
Seniors living with dementia may withdraw from social activities, making opportunities to connect with others important. Volunteering to care for animals or read to children offers a way for the elderly with dementia to reduce their sense of isolation, enhance mood and stimulate the mind by learning new skills.
Other social activities that help seniors with dementia enhance memory building include visiting with family members and friends. Seniors have continual opportunities to meet new people in senior centers—a place where ongoing classes, therapies and activities keep them mentally engaged.
When elderly individuals pick up a favorite book, they actively engage their minds. A boost in cognitive skills plus restoring lost vocabulary are beneficial outcomes. If the senior is in the later stages of dementia, caregivers can still utilize the power of books by reading to them.
A delightful alternative to a caregiver reading books to a senior loved one is for the latter to listen to audiobooks. The seniors’ minds are stimulated as they become immersed in twisted plots and curious characters. Audiobooks are accessible to seniors with poor vision, requiring only a listening ability.
If the senior with dementia is unable to closely follow the storylines in audiobooks, listening to music is an equally stimulating activity. Music from the senior’s era can trigger memories in the individual. Musical notes, whether listened to alone or sung with others, reach many parts of the brain.
Seniors with dementia who work on puzzles while they listen to music doubly enhance their memory skills. Mental connections are made as seniors attempt to figure out which piece fits. Word puzzles, too, work effectively to gently challenge seniors’ minds without becoming a source of frustration.
Additionally, playing a game of chess with a partner is known to stimulate the brain, as it requires strategic planning and thinking ahead. Playing chess has the added benefits of increasing a senior’s focus as well as working the brain’s concentration muscles.
Brain-training games vary widely. Games include hand-held marble games that are suitable for seniors in both early and late-stage dementia. Certain board games encourage seniors to recollect memories and begin poignant conversations about them with caregivers, family members or others.
While seniors may engage in many games individually, nothing is more fun than participating in group games. The “shopping list game” is one such game that requires group participation. Seniors recall items purchased in a grocery store, with the list items increasing as the game progresses.
Surprisingly, video games help build seniors’ mental sharpness. Simply pressing the keys requires the senior to remember which key is responsible for which action. Video game success is an achievement that seniors enjoy once they’ve mastered quick responses and forward planning.
Being in the fresh air of the outdoors stimulates the aging brain. While tending the garden is one way to engage a senior’s mind, making efforts to correctly identify botanical elements in a personal or botanical garden is richly rewarding. Caregivers, too, can participate in a game of botanical identification.
Creating trinkets is a hobby that seniors with dementia do not have to give up. Crafting works the imagination. Not only does engaging in craftwork engage the mind, but it particularly serves to maintain dexterity in the hands and fingers.
Knitting, painting, and assembling collages are simple enough to keep seniors interested, while building their memory skills. Knitting a baby bonnet, for instance, requires recalling each step. After every project, seniors may take pride in presenting their creations as gifts to family and friends.
Creating a scrapbook is another memory building activity, one that encourages the senior to start conversations about the mementos involved. The extra bonus of recording snippets of one’s life is that future generations are given a peek into the senior’s history.
Especially if the senior is keen on whipping up pies and cakes, baking offers the dual benefits of enjoyment and memory-building. Depending on how advanced the dementia is, the senior will require more or less help in the kitchen. The elderly individual might simply measure or mix ingredients while following a fun recipe.
Seniors who find enjoyment in fixing up the house or participating in woodworking projects can continue to do so. Similar to baking, however, is that their participation may be limited. Still, the satisfying process of do-it-yourself projects keeps seniors’ minds alert and engaged.
Get Help from a Caregiver
When the senior in your life shows evidence of needing extra support at home due to the onset of dementia, a dementia home care provider from Assisting Hands Home Care is ready and willing to step in. Our professional caregivers are trained and experienced in recognizing the symptoms of dementia. We are knowledgeable in the many positive ways to compassionately engage with individuals affected by dementia.
To keep senior care recipients’ minds stimulated, our dementia caregivers will play memory-stimulating games, participate in puzzles and start meaningful conversations. We keep your loved one physically active by accompanying them on walks. We’ll also guide them if they wander.
Families depend on the memory care services provided by Assisting Hands Home Care in Broward County, Florida. Consult one of our friendly representatives for details about how our dementia care providers can effectively promote your elderly loved one’s well-being at any stage of dementia.