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Activities That Can Help Seniors With Dementia

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An older adult man and an older adult woman smiling while jogging outdoors.

Dementia, a progressive neurodegenerative disorder, doesn’t mean that a story is over. Instead, it’s the start of a new chapter in a person’s life. Seniors living with dementia can still live happy, fulfilling lives by participating in different activities designed to strengthen their bodies, boost their minds, and enhance their cognitive function.

Activities that can help seniors with dementia include:

  • Exercising regularly
  • Stimulating the senses
  • Challenging the memory
  • Being creative
  • Connecting with others

Exercising Regularly

Regular physical exercise is a crucial part of staying healthy. But while it’s excellent for keeping muscles and joints strong, exercise isn’t just about the body. It’s actually closely linked with improved mental health and cognitive function as well.

When you exercise, blood flow to the brain is boosted. This helps keep you mentally clear, and it can improve cognitive function over time. Additionally, exercise releases endorphins, the feel-good chemical in the brain that can do wonders for a person’s mood and mental health.

The benefits don’t stop there. Regular exercise helps keep your cardiovascular system healthy and strong. There’s no need for anything too advanced or strenuous—encourage your loved one to walk, stretch, and move around a little more often.

Stimulating the Senses

Engaging the senses through stimulation exercises can be extremely beneficial for older adults with dementia. Stimulating the senses can help with relaxation, stress reduction, and mood improvement. It can help to:

  • Try new flavors and textures by introducing them to new types of food
  • Look at old photos or watch a show together
  • Listen to calming music or play an instrument
  • Decorate with soft, textured blankets that stimulate the sensory system
  • Use essential oils or candles to add a nice scent to their home

So why not encourage your loved one to try stimulation exercises regularly? It helps keep the mind active and can be an excellent way to relax!

Challenging the Memory

Activities that challenge your loved one’s memory are an incredible choice for older adults with any memory impairment. Conditions like dementia affect a person’s cognitive abilities, and over time, they can damage the hippocampus (the memory center in the brain.)

By regularly engaging in activities designed to challenge a person’s memory, your loved one can work toward keeping their mind strong. Try recommending:

  • Board games
  • Card games
  • Puzzles
  • Reading books or newspapers and discussing them afterward
  • Drawing familiar objects from memory
  • Cooking simple recipes from memory where possible

These can all help boost cognitive function and strengthen your loved one’s memory over time.

Being Creative

Engaging in something creative can provide a wonderful outlet for expressing feelings, which can be extremely helpful for improving a person’s quality of life. The act of creating something from nothing can help older adults with dementia feel more connected with themselves and can bring a spark of joy into their everyday lives.

Advise your loved one to try the following:

  • Painting
  • Drawing
  • Arts & crafts
  • Playing an instrument
  • Writing a short story
  • Knitting

It can help to provide your loved one with some materials to get started. Even just a piece of paper and a pencil can go a long way, and it can be incredibly rewarding to watch your loved one enjoy their new creative hobby.

Connecting with Others

Social connection plays a vital role in a person’s well-being, especially for older adults with conditions like dementia. Regular socialization does more than just help people feel connected—it’s closely linked with a person’s cognitive abilities.

When you’re socializing with others, you’re challenging several different parts of the brain. You need to be able to recall different pieces of information, make associations between topics, use your ability to communicate, and more. So, by regularly socializing, older adults can challenge their minds and memory and build the muscles needed to maintain cognitive ability.

Meanwhile, it helps reduce feelings of isolation and can boost a person’s mental health as well, lowering the risk of depression, anxiety, and other conditions. So, it can help to encourage your loved one to participate in group activities, clubs, or events at Woodbury Senior Living —or just spend some time with them.

Two older adult men sitting at a coffee table and playing chess while sharing a plate of cookies

Support Your Loved One

When a loved one has dementia, it’s crucial to do what you can to support them. Encourage them to participate in activities like these to keep their minds and bodies healthy. It can be particularly helpful to look into senior living options like our community here at Woodbury Senior Living.

In our community, every resident gets support from a team of trained, experienced caregivers who are here to help you and your loved one. So schedule a tour with us today, and let’s start this new chapter—together.


Written by Lifespark

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