“A report commissioned by Alzheimer’s Society found there are currently around 900,000 people with dementia in the UK. This is projected to rise to 1.6 million people by 2040. 209,600 people will develop dementia this year, that’s one every three minutes.”
Dementia is a progressive neurological condition, it affects a person's ability to think, remember, and reason. Dementia damages the cells in the brain so messages can't be sent from and to the brain in an effective way - this prevents the body from functioning as it normally would do. Some of the reasons why we develop dementia can be through disease like Alzheimer's; a series of strokes; or an injury. Each person will experience dementia in their own unique way.
As the disease advances, individuals may face difficulty with daily tasks, communication, and emotional regulation. However, it is vital to recognise that people living with dementia still possess rich emotional lives and the need for social interaction and stimulation. By offering consistent engagement and acknowledgement and maintaining their dignity, we can promote a sense of well-being and connection.
If you think your loved one is developing dementia, the first step is to take them to see a GP. If the diagnosis is confirmed, there are charities in the UK which help to support people with dementia:
Huge strides have been made in understanding how different diseases cause damage in the brain and produce dementia. And with increased funding over the past few years, there are now many more research studies and clinical trials taking place. Charities such as the Alzheimer’s Society rely heavily on funding to be able to continue with their incredible research, discover how you can get involved here and have some fun!
Although there is currently no “cure” for dementia, Dementia UK advise that ‘mental exercise’ may be helpful in slowing down the decline in memory and thinking through meaningful engagement. In this blog we will deep dive into how engagement brightens the day and helps to enhance the lives of those living with dementia.
Meaningful engagement for those living with Dementia
Fostering meaningful engagement can significantly improve the quality of life for those living with dementia. By tailoring activities and interactions to suit abilities and interests, you can create a nurturing and supportive environment that fosters a sense of creativity, belonging and purpose.
According to Dementia UK “Maintaining meaningful activities adds value and quality to a person’s life, whether they have a diagnosis of dementia or not. If a person is diagnosed with dementia their strengths and abilities will vary a great deal depending on what stage of dementia they are at.”
It’s important to think of activities that provide as much meaning and engagement as possible in order to keep the mind stimulated - this can include a range of things from the usual tasks of daily life, such as cooking, cleaning, gardening, through to activities like a call or a zoom session with friend or a family member, a puzzle or a game, drawing or painting, listening to their favourite song, the possibilities are endless!
Be sure to make it fun, creative and stimulating and above all something that they will really enjoy. Have some fun together and create some positive and happy moments along the way.
As my Aunt’s dementia developed, sewing quickly became her lifeline. Although her beautifully stitched gowns and embroidered smocks may have been a little too ambitious at this time, simple patch work craft kits became a beacon of light and provided copious amounts of positive engagement. My Aunt became engrossed in something she loved, so meaningful and personal to her, it bought a sense of stimulation and accomplishment to brighten up her day.
Start by asking your loved one what it is that’s important to them. Encourage them to take an active role in choosing actives that are meaningful to them.
Creating Meaningful Engagement
Always bear in mind that it might be necessary to adapt and adjust activities dependent on things such as, what stage of dementia the person is at, a person’s physical abilities, the range of support available to them, such as whether they’re living on their own or have any carers.
Much like my Aunt, the prospect of presenting her with a beautiful smock to embroider would not have been productive, however, a small and brightly coloured patchwork kit provided a great source of engagement! From puzzles to gardening just be sure to keep the activity simple, fun, personal and engaging. Here are some examples:
1. Validation and Empathy: Listening attentively and validating their emotions can help individuals with dementia feel understood and respected. Simple gestures such as maintaining eye contact, using a soothing tone, and offering reassurance can go a long way in fostering a sense of security.
2. Tailored Activities: Engaging in activities that align with their past interests and abilities can evoke positive memories and emotions. Activities such as music therapy, gentle exercises, reminiscence therapy, and sensory stimulation can promote relaxation and emotional well-being.
3. Multi-sensory Stimulation: Stimulating multiple senses simultaneously can evoke powerful responses. Creating sensory-rich environments with textured objects, soothing music, and aromatherapy can trigger positive emotional experiences and encourage a sense of connection with the surroundings.
4. Social Interaction: Encouraging social interaction with peers, family, and caregivers can help reduce feelings of isolation and enhance emotional well-being. Group activities such as art classes, gardening, and group storytelling can promote a sense of belonging and encourage social bonds. You can find your local support groups here.
5. Promoting Independence: Ensure people with dementia engage in tasks that promote independence and decision-making can boost their confidence and self-esteem. Simple activities like setting the table, folding laundry, or engaging in light gardening can provide a sense of purpose and accomplishment.
6. Adaptive Communication: Adjusting communication strategies to accommodate their cognitive abilities is essential. Using simple and clear language, employing visual cues, and providing adequate time for responses can facilitate smoother interactions and reduce frustration for both parties.
7. Safe and Calm Environment: Creating a safe and calming environment that minimises distractions and reduces anxiety is crucial. Limiting noise, maintaining a consistent routine, and ensuring a comfortable physical space can promote a sense of security and familiarity.
The Impact of Meaningful Engagement
Engaging individuals with dementia in meaningful activities not only improves their cognitive functions but also enhances their emotional well-being. Studies from Alzheimer’s Society have shown that meaningful engagement can reduce agitation and anxiety, improve overall mood, and slow down cognitive decline. Moreover, it fosters a sense of dignity and purpose, promoting a higher quality of life for those living with dementia.
Meaningful activity provides countless benefits to those living with Dementia, here are just some:
A sense of purpose and routine.
Acknowledges and uses the skills and life experiences of the person with dementia.
Emotionally nurturing experiences which increase self-esteem and help the person to feel valued.
Opportunity for more social time with family.
Maintain skills and independence, and in some cases improve the person’s ability to perform certain daily activities.
Opportunity to make decisions and have choice.
In the journey of caring for people with dementia, it is vital to recognise what it is that’s important to them and treat them with the respect and dignity they deserve. By fostering meaningful engagement through tailored activities, multi-sensory stimulation, social interaction, and adaptive communication, we can enhance their well-being and create a positive environment where they feel valued and understood. Ultimately, it is through these small, meaningful interactions that we can make a significant difference in the lives of those living with dementia and help to brighten up their day.
Sometimes people with dementia require support with daily activities; reminders to take medication; someone to accompany them on walks or to see to see friends and family. Our Live-in Carers specialise in caring for those living with dementia. Having a Live-in Carer can provide peace of mind for the whole family, knowing your relative is safe in their own home.
If you think your loved one could benefit from having a Live-in Carer, please call 01264 319 399 or email email@example.com to speak to one of our friendly team to arrange Live-in Care.
Thank you for taking the time to read this blog, I hope it provides some insight and helps to brighten someone’s day!
Marketing Executive – Access Care