If you have a loved one who is suffering from dementia or you work in a care facility, you understand the challenges of caring for someone with a neurological disease. Whether these patients live at home or in care facilities, their entire families are affected. Like most people who care for dementia patients, you may wonder whether you can do more to help. These are a few activities that have helped these individuals.
Spending Time With Pets
Many dementia patients experience loneliness. You may have noticed that they are often negative and depressed, but animals decrease these feelings. Pet therapy also helps these individuals improve their physical health. For example, seniors are encouraged to walk with therapy dogs. Their eating habits and blood pressure also improve. Even fish provide visual stimulation. Many care facilities actually have community pets or encourage visits from local therapy animals. Studies have even found that robotic animals produce many of the same results as live pets, so even your patients with allergies or fears can experience these benefits.
One type of memory therapy that has been effective in seniors with dementia is putting together a memory box. These boxes may include photo albums, treasured possessions, paintings, audio recordings and other items that make them comfortable and are part of their history. For example, a patient who loves to bake may include a kitchen apron, while a veteran may save a military uniform. With these boxes, you can help stimulate the patients’ memories. They also help you start conversations with them.
If you have access to home movies, you can use them to engage your patients’ brains. They will be stimulated by the faces, colours, sound and backgrounds in your videos. You will notice that they are calmer because they recognise people and locations. The patients are comforted when you show them some of their favourite memories. You may also view shows they loved as a child and young adult. They will even respond to popular travel locations or destinations they have visited. If you have a video of historical events, you may learn about your patients’ experiences during these times.
Art therapy is used for both visual stimulation and improving fine motor skills. Painting, drawing and doing craft projects offer dementia patients a creative outlet. Give your patients the freedom to create in any medium. No matter their level of cognitive and verbal decline, patients retain their creative and artistic skills. Even virtual museum tours that feature popular artwork can stimulate these individuals brains. Therefore, encourage your patient to create and share great artwork with you.
Creating and Listening to Music
Music therapy has been shown to help with memory and reduce negative emotions, such as stress and agitation. It also improves cognition. Many facilities have classic records or a jukebox. They also encourage those with musical talents to sing and play instruments for the other patients. Some centres host sing-alongs or holiday concerts. Play music that is familiar to your patients or encourages them to play the music or instruments of their choice.
Activities With Groups
You can also involve your patients in group activities. Memory care facilities and communities encourage dementia patients to participate in group events, such as holiday celebrations, group therapy and participation in hobby groups, if they are interested. Focus on the patients’ likes and dislikes and tailor activities to these preferences.
Available Support Services
Although your patients’ families can pursue many memory activities at home, encourage them to seek local and governmental dementia support services. For example, your community may offer support groups for dementia patients and their family members as well as adult respite or care centres that provide supervision, transportation and meal deliveries during the day.
As the disease progresses, your patients’ families may need to pursue additional support through residential care or assisted living facilities. If you know of families that hope to keep their loved ones at home, suggest that they ask for long-term care help from friends, family members and paid service providers. This care may include medical and general care, such as help with bathing and eating. Hospice services are available for end-of-life care.
Every day, scientists learn more about dementia and the activities that improve cognition and memory. As you care for your patients, encourage them to stay active and involved. Help them develop a well-rounded schedule with different dementia care activities.