Right now, in the UK alone, nearly 1 million people and their families are struggling to get the professional dementia support they need to survive. Funding delays and underfunding has put a real strain on families which has been massively exposed by the pandemic. The Alzheimer’s Society has been asking for the government to take action now and ‘Cure the Care System’ during Dementia Action week which was 17th – 23rd May.
Luca Rado, founder of The Live In Care Company, has compiled a list of activities that you can do with your loved one to keep their brains stimulated and triggering memories. He says, “Participating in activities with someone with dementia can help keep their brain functioning the best it possibly can and helping them keep or build new social relationships will boost their well being massively.”
Play Brain games
Playing brain games that stimulate the memory function of the brain is a great way of keeping that part of the brain functioning. The more regular you do these activities, the longer their brain will stay active and may protect against further decline. Although this is just theory and memory games have not been shown to reduce the risk of developing dementia they are a great way of keeping the mind active and have not shown any harm.
Some ideas on types of brain games you can play:
Card games – card games involve problem solving skills which triggers the memory part of the brain.
Crosswords – crosswords and sudokus are enjoyable problem solving activities that can encourage the brain to function in the correct way.
Puzzles/ Jigsaws – will help the patient practice their fine motor skills. A brilliant activity for a day indoors.
Do physical activities
Physical activity such as exercise or a hands on activity can encourage many parts of the brain to work together keeping it stimulated. This helps their overall mood and wellbeing as many of these activities can be done in social situations so they can be making friends at the same time.
Exercise/ walking – being active and exercising is important for everyone for their overall mental & physical wellbeing. Going for a walk outside or accompanying a patient to a class at a local sports centre is perfect for getting them out the house and socialising.
Arts & crafts – depending on what your loved one enjoys, you could do drawing, painting, knitting, sewing together. This will help different parts of their brain work together with problem solving and hand eye coordination.
Gardening – helping a dementia patient with their gardening can help get them out the house and connect with nature. Recognising wildlife that can trigger happy memories and also give them a sense of achievement watching their plants grow.
Baking/ cooking – great for memory! Try cooking/ baking the patients favourite foods and see if they can remember the recipes they used to use when they were younger. Just be aware of using kitchen objects as they might be a little clumsy/ forgetful with what they are doing depending on their dementia stage.
Some dementia sufferers can have issues with anxiety and can panic and get stressed. Taking time out with your friend/ relative to do something that relaxes them can help reduce these anxieties.
Reading – encouraging your patient to read the news/ magazines or books will help stimulate conversations and keep them interested in things they enjoy and keep up to date with things going on around them.
Listening to music – playing music can help reduce any stresses and boost their overall mood and wellbeing. Playing music they used to listen to when they were younger may trigger some memories you can talk about.
Animal therapy – animals are brilliant for those who suffer with anxiety and can help boost companionship and feel a sense of purpose. Taking animals for walks or simply being able to sit and pet them works wonders. If they do not have a pet, animal therapy sessions are the perfect place for a day trip.
Spending time with your loved one can build a strong bond, help them live the best life they can and also help the relatives get the rest they need to help care for their loved one.