Activities for people with dementia should always be created with an aim to improve their social, emotional and spiritual well-being, and to help them blossom and grow. They should not be about providing meaningless tasks or activity for the sake of distraction, nor for providing ‘busy’ work. Meaningful activities are created to tap into a person’s past skills, memories and interests. These do not have to always be structured but do need to stimulate the senses and encourage participation, boost self-esteem and fulfil one or all of our five universal emotional needs. Activities and therapies may range from doll therapy, aromatherapy, storytelling, gardening, cooking, music therapy, exercise, art or specially designed activity programs. They may involve dance, movement, colour, walking or quiet time in conversation. The true focus is not about the activity itself but the quality and joy of the interaction.
BEFORE ANYTHING ELSE, PREPARATION IS THE KEY TO SUCCESS
Alexander Graham Bell
- Prepare the environment, ensuring calmness, avoiding clutter, avoid an over stimulating environment.
- Have a number of activities prepared, prepare them together with the person
- Include a variety of activities that stimulates different senses
- Demonstrate what you want the person to do before asking them to do it
- Avoid correcting, it s about engagement not right and wrong
- Use safe materials, nothing sharp or things that may look tasty if they are not edible
- Think about opportunities to make each activity simpler or more complex. If the person is having difficulty engaging independently, breaking the activity down to smaller steps maybe helpful, demonstrating each step
- Music may also be considered
- Glasses, magnifiers or hearing aids should be brought along if the person needs them
- Ensure you will both be comfortable wherever you set up
- In residential care you may want to ask the staff to assist you when seating the person
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