The weather has certainly changed lately, and winter seems to be well and truly setting in. When not at work, I love taking my Labrador for long walks, however walking in the rain and the wind isn’t always the most enjoyable thing to do! That got me thinking: what activities can you do when the weather is rainy and miserable with your elderly relatives/clients with dementia to keep them occupied and stimulated mentally and physically in the comfort of their warm and cosy home? We spoke to our live-in carers who came up with a few wonderful ideas;
Have an afternoon of story or poetry reading. Studies have shown that reading can be a very enjoyable activity, even if your relative/client may have dementia and can’t remember the whole story. Pick a book and settle down together with a cup of tea and take it in turns to read. Many of our living in carers find their clients respond well to this nice and often calming activity.
Card making Making your own cards can be a very enjoyable activity: fold a piece of A4 card in half then make sure you have lots of materials ready to decorate it with. For example, use old wildlife magazines, gift paper or wallpaper to create a collage, get out the paints, coloured pencils, tissue paper and stickers. You could also use smaller items to stick on the front, such as buttons and ribbons.
This can be a great activity to stimulate reminiscence. Give your relative/client their own scrapbook and then encourage them to stick photos and images that remind them of their life.
Puzzles and games
Jigsaws can make an ideal activity, they’re perfect for between two and four people, particularly if the jigsaw is relatively large and has a reasonable amount of pieces. One of the best things about puzzles is how versatile they are. Our live in carers that provide dementia care at home suggest for mild or early stage dementia, a 3D puzzle could be very absorbing, whilst later on a 24 piece puzzle might be more appropriate. The simplest puzzles with 13 pieces are a good choice for those whose condition is more advanced.
Everyone can get enjoyment from certain board games, depending on their condition. You could try traditional games such as Large Print Scrabble and Bridge or card games like snap or even dominoes could be enjoyable too!
Dance Sarah, who specialises in providing short term respite care, explained how brilliant dance is as an exercise for the elderly and its ability to bring together both movement and music into one activity. It has the power to stimulate reminiscence and is proven to improve balance and cognitive ability (according to a study from Sweden). Don’t worry too much about knowing the correct steps, simply pick some dance-friendly music that you think you will enjoy and get moving!
Bird watching can be a fascinating hobby, why not look out for birds whilst looking out of the conservatory window into your garden with some binoculars! You can identify different species from the comfort of your own backyard while listening to the birds sing. Keep track of the bird species you find with a notebook or snap pictures with your phone or camera. If you end up collecting feathers, you can paste them or press them into a keepsake book or frame.
Consider frosting cookies or baking brownies to be served as that day's dessert. Baking bread is another activity that also doubles as a physical activity since it requires some hand dexterity. Making popcorn, colouring cup cakes, and making fresh garden salads can all provide opportunities for some joint efforts in the kitchen to prepare food together.
You can do so much more but it gives you some ideas to get you started! What activities will you do today with your relative/clients?