Are you caring for someone who is living with dementia? If so, you will likely be finding the coronavirus lockdown proving difficult, especially if that person (or persons) is in the later stages of dementia.
You may be a carer who has had to step in to help out with activity provision due to outside visits being halted for fear of cross-contamination, with a timetable to fill and little idea of how to incorporate activities that will engage someone with dementia.
Our guide below offers guidance covering many key areas of personal growth with products that work especially well for people with dementia. Advice is grouped into specific topics to help you locate and find the best solution for your needs. Many ideas can be used individually or with a group, depending on your lockdown situation.
Number games can become difficult with dementia, recalling tables and number sequencing can be stressful. Why not play simple games such as Ludo or Snakes and Ladders? Use only one die and if hands are weak, use a large foam die. The game is slowed down by the movement up and down the snakes or ladders too. Bingo is another fun numerical game that allows for some sequencing and helps with concentration. There are also other bingo games that use pictures instead of numbers such as Dog or Cat Bingo.
Or why not sing counting songs? ‘Ten Green Bottles’ or ‘One Potato, Two Potato’ are well-known nursery songs that can often be easier to recall from childhood.
Dementia often makes it difficult to sequence words correctly, leading to jumbled sentences and frustration in not being able to be understood. Simple crosswords are an ideal way to reinforce spellings and offer simple reading opportunities – wordsearches too are a great way to practise reading and aid concentration too.
Or why not play a game with Sentence Building Dominoes? The game offers a wide range of nouns, verbs, adjectives etc to try to make a sentence and can be played singly or in a group.
Reading should be encouraged where possible but sometimes long lengths of passage are not suitable for someone with a short attention span. Why not use a child’s joke book (or download simple jokes from the internet) and ask them to read out some funny one-liners or ‘knock, knock’ jokes?
Magnetic letters can also be a great way to practise spelling and can be used with a metal baking tray. Ask them to spell their name and those of others in the room.
Jigsaws are a fun way to spend time and can help relax people. Many older people may have unsteady hands and have difficulty in gripping small, fiddly pieces of normal adult jigsaws. There are now some great adult-friendly large piece jigsaws starting at just four pieces. Try to choose a simple image that doesn’t have too many pieces, like a simple animal image that has the shaped outlines on the backing board to follow. Ensure you place a picture of the finished jigsaw nearby for reference – it may be obvious to you what the image is but may not be to others.
Music has proved to be one of the best ways to encourage interaction with those in later-stage dementia and well-known songs often stimulate memory-recall long after other memories have faded. Add a drum or some maracas to shake in time to the music, or get everyone clapping along in time to practise rhythm and timing.
Having to recall past events can prove difficult for some, why not try some improvisational acting instead? Collect together some non-specific household items e.g. hat, rope, large box, teddy, paper plates, silk scarf and place them in a random pile or on a table. Ask each player to choose one item and to act out something using it. There is not right or wrong and each person will have a different viewpoint,
Crafts offer a way to tap into individual personalities like nothing else. If knitting and sewing isn’t suitable, try some dough sculpture? Modelling clay is highly tactile and can be formed into anything, a simple rolled ‘snake’ bowl can be enjoyable but even if nothing is finished, it can be squashed down and used another day. Dough also utilises ‘learnt’ skills such as kneading, rolling, cutting out and makes a great workout for wrists, hands and fingers too!