Dementia is one of the most common conditions affecting older Americans today. The term “dementia” actually describes a group of cognitive disorders that affect a person’s memory, communication skills, and decision making capacity.
Alzheimer’s disease is responsible for most cases of dementia, with estimates as of 2014 with 5 million people in the United States that are afflicted by this condition. It is estimated by year 2060 the number will nearly triple to 14 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease. Once a person reaches the age of 65, their risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease doubles every year. It is currently the sixth leading cause of death in the United States and is the fifth leading cause among people age 65 and older.
Researchers have discovered that the progression of dementia is usually slower in individuals who stay busy. Essentially, the more stimulated you are, mentally and physically, the slower dementia progresses. Scientists suspect the frequent stimulation of the brain causes new neural connections to be made, helping to counteract the malfunctioning neural connections caused by dementia.
Some of the other advantages obtained by dementia patients who stay busy include:
This is one of the most beneficial activities that any elderly person can take up. Gardening will help a dementia patient maintain their cognitive function while maintaining their physical fitness. Gardening is a very stimulating activity with plenty of smells, sounds, and sights to enjoy. It can also be a very social activity if you garden with friends of join a garden club.
Music has been shown to be very powerful at stimulating the brain. Listening to a familiar song can help a dementia patient remember past events while enjoying themselves. Singing and playing musical instruments are also useful activities which can also help the dementia patient engage with other people.
Activities that challenge the mind can be very beneficial for people with dementia. Sudoku, crosswords, jigsaw puzzles, computer games and board games are all effective. Card games are great because they can be played with friends. Joining a bridge club helps to keep a person’s mind sharp while helping them maintain their friendships.
Not only will exercise keep a person with dementia physically fit, it will stimulate their mind and slow the progression of the disease. Some forms of exercise are also very social and can greatly improve the quality of a person’s life. Try walking, swimming, running, soccer, cricket, aerobics, crochet, or lawn bowls.
Having a great conversation can be very mentally stimulating — requiring a person to think of words, remember facts and formulate ideas. If you have a relative with dementia, talk to them as often as possible. Ask the questions and keep them engaged with their surroundings. They will be happier and healthier if they are frequently talking to others.
It is important to encourage dementia sufferers to continue enjoying their favorite hobbies. Activities like knitting, woodworking, drawing, and painting are very stimulating and require a dementia patient to use many parts of their brain. They can also be social, which improves the quality of the activity. If a person struggles to perform the activities they used to do, have them perform a simplified version.
A person with dementia should be encouraged to keep performing activities around the home including cleaning, cooking, and dusting. Any activity that requires them to solve problems and use their mind should be encouraged.
Reminiscing is also a very beneficial activity that can be performed in the home. Pull out some photo albums or cherished items and ask the person about them. Ask them where they were when the photo was taken or when they received a certain object.
Reading requires a person to use many different parts of the brain and helps to slow the progression of dementia. If the dementia patient can no longer read, have someone read aloud to them.
In-home Caregivers can help a person with dementia remain active and pursue the activities they enjoy! Some of the ways they can help include:
If you are interested in learning more about activity ideas for dementia patients and how home care can help, contact All Heart Home Care at 619-736-4677. We offer in-home consultations and would love to discuss the many home care services we provide!