As the colder weather draws near it is often difficult to enjoy the outdoors with a senior population who is prone to falls and injury. Indoor activities for the elderly and individuals living with dementia specifically can be of great assistance for keeping seniors active and engaged.
Just to clarify, dementia is a general term used to refer to a decline in cognitive abilities that interferes with daily life. Alzheimer’s accounts for 60-80% of dementia cases and is a subset of dementia.
Symptoms for those living with dementia can vary. Any of the following may show up and at least two of these difficulties must be present to be diagnosed:
- Reasoning and judgment
- Visual perception
By stimulating these focus areas with activities, we can offer clients working or living with dementia a great resource for engagement.
Eye-Hand Coordination Games
Stimulating the eye-hand connection (or eye-foot connection) not only lays down synapses in the brain but can actually calm the mind while also helping to focus. Using balloons, fly swatters, beanbags, and balls, a plethora of activities can be played indoors. From Flyswatter balloon tennis to bouncing and catching, bowling and corn hole, eye-hand coordination can be stimulated which will not only engage the mind and work coordination, but bring some smiles to those who are sometimes withdrawn, making them one of the best group activities for dementia patients also.
Sensory Room Time
One of the many multisensory rooms we offer
This is always a fantastic go-to-place: a multisensory room, or as I like to think of it, a sensory spa. A multisensory room provides a sensory diet like no other room can do. With just the right visual, auditory, tactile and olfactory stimulation, an individual with dementia can become aware of their surroundings, improving focus and concentration. An interactive bubble tube, switch activity touch boards, or sound therapy can stimulate and relax a stressed mind. Check out our in-depth blog post on how multi-sensory environments can help dementia patients for more information.
Exercise Means Better Control
Yoga, chair exercise, weights, resistance bands, and medicine balls can wake up the body and bring awareness to the breath. It can improve bone mass and respiration, decrease blood pressure, and increase endorphins. The best part is it’s never too late! Senior exercise can be done in a chair or even a recliner when necessary so there’s no reason to hold off unless medically contraindicated.
What's more, exercise is fun, and can be highly sociable. Light aerobic classes for care home patients make a super effective group activity for dementia patients.
Heavy Hand Work Is a Sensory Stimulator
Manipulating switches in a sensory room, working with paints and clay, making a memory board or sensory pouch, or baking and kneading dough, can all involve the hands. Older individuals may have arthritic hands which means handwork is even more important to keep the hands active and healthy, and making these some of the most important elderly indoor activities. The bonus is that using the hands can calm and engage the mind as the neural activity is switched from the fight-or-flight response to the frontal lobe and areas involving planning, creativity, and coordination.
Music is Therapy for the Heart and Soul
Music therapy can come in many forms. From listening, to playing, to composing, it is an ageless form of therapy. For those living with dementia, music may open a window to promote memory, processing, and engagement. Try finding your client's favorite old songs, or bringing them the instrument they used to love to play. For many, music can act as a dementia "immunizer", keeping the brain active and healthy into their late senior years. Music therapy is therefore one of the best activities to do with dementia patients.
Balance Work Can Prevent Injury
Many seniors, particularly those with dementia, are prone to falls and injuries as their balance reactions slow down. Using a therapy ball, obstacle courses, dance classes, and monitored balance equipment can offer those living with dementia (and those wanting to prevent it) a way of challenging thought processes and balance reactions.
Be creative when providing activities. You can use ideas from Pinterest or a site like Golden Carers. Find out what your clients enjoyed when they were younger or interview those who know them well. Be sure to add variety to keep the mind active, and provide some consistency as well to encourage success when learning new skills.
Keep reading our blog for more dementia resources, including the effective use of aromatherapy for dementia, how to connect with later stage alzheimers patients, and for additional dementia-friendly activity ideas.