Activities for Seniors With Alzheimer's or Dementia
Alzheimer’s disease is one of the brain disorders that affect human beings as they advance in age. This brain disorder is mainly diagnosed in persons over 60 years of age. Depending on many other factors, Alzheimer’s can present its symptoms early, making it hard for the patient to recognize they have a problem, or it may come later in one’s life. It mainly affects the brain cells, making seniors forget information easily and progressively deteriorate to advanced levels that make a senior's day-to-day activities impossible to undertake.
If left untreated, Alzheimer’s disease can deteriorate, leading to severe cases of memory loss and reduced cognitive abilities which can have a significant impact on the quality of life of an individual. Dementia is also a brain disorder affecting over 50 million people worldwide, according to the latest report from the World Health Organization. Dementia is a combination of numerous symptoms of brain disorder manifesting as severe loss of memory, inability to have normal social interactions, and having speech problems. Just like Alzheimer’s disease, this disease affects people over the age of 60 years. Alzheimer’s disease is one of the leading causes of Dementia.
Psychotherapy in Alzheimer’s or Dementia Treatment
Medical research findings indicate that there’s no known cure for Alzheimer’s and Dementia. However, if these brain disorders are detected early, treatment and management of symptoms become easy. Psychotherapy is one of the methods incorporated by medical experts to help patients recover. It involves a one on one session with patients and professional caregivers.
Through psychotherapy, patients share their experiences and engage in physical exercises and other activities to help them open up. Crafting is one of the highly regarded activities that caregivers can assist patients with Alzheimer’s or Dementia to alleviate the symptoms. Crafting helps seniors with Alzheimer’s and Dementia cope with their mental health issues in the following ways;
How Crafting Helps Seniors with Alzheimer’s or Dementia
- Crafting reduces stress levels of an individual - Psychotherapy is an efficient method in the management of stress among senior patients with brain disorders. Crafting is one of the therapies that would greatly help patients to concentrate on tasks, increase their self-esteem, and tend to inspire positive feelings. Through participation in artwork, the brain receptors are activated and help to reduce the production of cortisol. When cortisol is reduced, the stress level in the body significantly reduces, making the patient happy.
- Crafting enhances creativity - Simple art and craft activities such as weaving and knitting have the potential to promote the brain cells to regenerate. Brain cells grow when a person is actively involved in brainstorming sessions. As a senior, the growth rate of brain cells may significantly reduce, especially when there are no tasks to undertake. Giving seniors with Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease simple tasks will trigger their brain to become active, which leads to enhanced creativity. Patients with Dementia and Alzheimer’s diseases can creatively make simple designs of various things which enhance their concentration.
- It helps to improve memory - Alzheimer’s disease and Dementia are associated with progressive loss of memory with advancing age. When these conditions are diagnosed in their early stages, crafting can be used, which greatly helps patients to recall good memories. Activities such as drawing, coloring, and painting have been found to improve the memory of patients considerably.
- Crafting helps to enhance the mood of patients - Art and craft help the brain to release hormones that help the patients to feel good, and this will significantly assist to manage the condition. As patients participate in various activities with the help of their caregivers, they experience good emotions.
- Crafting - Activities Promotes Socialization- - Patients with brain disorders experience feelings of anxiety and depression, which tend to alienate them from the rest of the members of society. Patients in advanced stages of Alzheimer’s disease develop speech difficulty, which can be hard to treat when the patient is alone. Crafting enables patients to interact freely with their caregivers which considerably enhances their social skills.
- It helps the patients to control challenging behaviors - Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are characterized by negative behaviors such as anger, feeling unwanted, and suspicion. These behavioral changes are significantly reduced by engaging in physical exercises and craft activities. These activities enable the patients to focus their energy positively on doing something worthwhile rather than getting aggressive.
- Crafting activities also help patients to lead balanced and fulfilling lives because they are engaged and keep their minds busy. Crafting keeps them occupied as they concentrate on the tasks at hand and this can alleviate their fears and worries.
Things to Remember
Alzheimer’s disease and Dementia are severe brain disorders that can be easily ignored or assumed, especially in their early stages. However, as these diseases progressively establish themselves within the body, symptoms persist, and it becomes tough for an individual to concentrate on simple tasks and keep track of past events and memories. This greatly impacts negatively on the quality of life of the senior.
Art therapy greatly assists the senior patients in managing some of the symptoms that if left untreated may lead to severe cases of memory loss and difficulties in speaking. Art and crafting therapy is an involving task that requires teamwork and socialization. However, at times it may be overwhelming for caregivers to tailor the activities that the seniors will adore and enjoy doing.
Since psychotherapy is a proven method that greatly contributes to the therapeutic process of mental and emotional wellness of a patient, caregivers ought to be creative. Managing to keep a senior patient interested in your activities is a necessary skill that will help you create a connection with them and also in their symptom management journey. If you want to succeed in engaging your senior patient in various activities, the following are the most essential things to remember:
Crucial Things to Remember Before Implementing Activities
- Ensure that you have a safe and conducive working environment - When planning on any activity to undertake, ensure that safety precautions are observed. Senior patients with brain disorders need special care and attention because they could be having problems with their body coordination. Safety precautions can be undertaken by avoiding environments with noise, distractions, and hazardous items such as loosely connected wires. Activities that may seem to increase the stress levels of the patients should be avoided. Ensure you use with your loved one safe equipment such as sterilized razor blades, scissors when making simple cut-outs from paper.
- Select the best activities for your senior patient- - Seniors with Alzheimer’s or Dementia often get irritated or annoyed so easily. You need to evaluate your loved one's interest before rolling out an activity. Try to remember their hobbies, skills, and abilities. Create activities that easily correspond to their abilities. Paying attention to what they like will make them eager and interested to undertake those activities with you. This will simplify your role as a caregiver and enables you to create rapport with them.
- Simplify Activities- - Ensure the activities you select are simple to undertake. The activities may involve things like painting or weaving, which needs only a brush and paint or strings. If the activities involve procedures, break them into simpler steps and ensure you take it slow with your loved one. Complex activities can easily make the senior patient bored.
- Find the most appropriate time to engage in activities- - Evaluate the time of the day when the senior is energized and sharp in carrying out tasks. Schedule simple activities at that time and engage with them in a friendly manner.
- Give clear instructions with demonstrations- - Be a supportive and dedicated caregiver. Show the seniors how to do the activity of your choice and guide them as they do them. Encourage them to finish the tasks to build self-esteem and concentration.
- Adapt to the mood of the patient- - There are times when you will prepare the patient to undertake activities, but they won't be in the mood for them. Ensure you are flexible to adjust to such circumstances. You can always reschedule activities when the time is right for your patient.
- Give a balanced schedule of activities - Creating a schedule of activities that the patient likes is a brilliant idea. However, doing this on a daily basis may be monotonous. You need to mix things a little by incorporating other new tactics and techniques to make your patient curious.
If the activities chosen require beads, ensure they are safe without harmful chemicals like lead, high levels of brominated flame retardants (BFRs), chlorinated flame retardants (CFRs), among other harmful substances.
List of crafting activities for Seniors with Alzheimer’s or Dementia
It’s important to ensure that people with Alzheimer’s are engaged in different crafting activities and routines so that they can also have fun, feel engaged and satisfied. Different activities make the patients active, which is an essential aspect for their mental and physical health. Crafting activities can also serve as a form of medication since it acts as a distraction from some irrational behavior, boost self-esteem, and reduce irritation.
Specialists or those taking care of dementia patients can have a daily schedule of crafting activities to ensure that the patients feel a sense of control for their daily activities. To ensure that a dementia patient is benefiting from the crafting activities, choose activities that are easy and likable by the seniors. Some of the crafting activities that have proven to be helpful to patients with Alzheimer include;
Essential Crafting Activities for Seniors with Alzheimer’s or Dementia
- Knitting - Knitting is a sociable crafting activity that is enjoyed by people of all ages. Different brain nerves can be awakened and actively engaged during knitting, especially attention and memory span. Dementia greatly affects these two functions of the brain. According to research, knitting engages those two functions hence slowing down the decrease in cognitive abilities. Knitting helps in reducing anxiety, depression, chronic pain and will significantly slow the onset of dementia. The materials needed are simple crotchets, yarn, threads, and beads.
- Beading - If the beading activity is well modified, it can be a lively and great activity for Alzheimer’s patients. Those in early stages who still have good eyesight can use small beads, yet those in middle stages require bigger beads to make bracelets and other jewelry and may need guidance during the beading sessions. Beading will improve motor skills, cognitive skills, hand-eye coordination, and dexterity. Threading the beads using a string requires coordination of eyes and hands. The basic materials required are beads, threads, and string.
- Painting - Painting allows one to express themselves through pictures of different colors. Alzheimer’s patients can develop spiritually and emotionally through painting, and it also keeps them active and engaged. Those who are passionate about painting can even use it to get income or gift their loved ones. Materials needed for painting include watercolor paint kits, acrylic paint, and paintbrushes.
- Decorating - Beautifying a place with flowers and other decorative items adds the value of life to a place, brings humor, and enlightens the emotions of the patients. For seniors who like flowers, getting them to decorate their rooms and arrange flowers can be fun. You can get a flower vase, florist foam, and artificial flowers and let them arrange their own decorations. Materials required for this activity include flowers, pictures, and photos.
- Attaching Pipes and Fittings - Many seniors were used to carrying out handy work around the home. You can remind them of these pleasant memories by engaging them with this type of activity where they can put together the pipes and take them apart. You need inexpensive PVC pipes of different lengths, such as T-joints or elbow joints. You need to cut them or have them cut for you at the hardware store.
- Modeling - When you choose to use oil-based clay, ensure that you buy a set of clay modeling tools that are wooden and tablecloths so that you can be able to manage the mess. Modeling projects should not be tough for the elderly. Modeling clay is fun and relaxing to work with and can be enjoyed by all. You can engage them to make different shapes using different cookie cutters. Materials required for this activity include clay, cookie cutters. Alternatively, you can use homemade playdough.
- Creative Coloring - Artwork improves thinking capacity and minimizes depression. This can be done by collecting different collages and giving them to the seniors to join them and form a pattern. Materials needed for this activity are magazine cutouts, photographs, and colored pencils.
- Making a Scrapbook - You can make a scrapbook for seniors with dementia so that they can keep themselves busy by getting picture cutouts and sticking them in a book. All you need to make a scrapbook is a notebook, a pair of scissors, office glue, a catalog, pictures, and old magazines.
- Matching and Sorting Picture Cards - You can print a pair of different images or photos that the senior likes. The photos could be images of their favorite animal, family member, or beautiful flowers. You can cut them into equal sizes and laminate them using contact paper or packaging tape. These cards can be used as a matching game, a simple sorting game, or just images to flip over as they’re admired.
- Create a Memory Box - A rummage or memory box will help seniors with dementia feel connected to their previous hobbies or past careers. You need to have a box and fill them with items they would have used at work or their hobbies. For instance, for a former office worker, you may have to create a box with a calculator, paper clips, note pads, pencils, and other items that remind them of their previous work. Anyone who loved cooking could have a box with a whisk, spoons, a spatula, and other such items. It’s possible to create a memory box for any type of job or hobby. It only requires creativity and finding items that are safe to handle by the seniors.
- Filling easy puzzles - Engaging in easy puzzles consistently with seniors with dementia can help them improve their memory. Using a rope, you can tie knots and asking the senior to assist in untying the knot. It keeps them busy and engaged. The material needed for this crafting activity is a puzzle and a short rope.
Brain disorders among seniors in society affect their way of living. Since the conditions worsen as they age, finding a remedy in the early stages is paramount. There are numerous elderly-friendly activities to engage with seniors that help in alleviating these symptoms. When planning for these activities, keep in mind the needs of the senior, skills, and interests. Moreover, creating rapport with the elderly enables them to overcome their problems and live normal lives.
More often, seniors with dementia may find it difficult to speak or write. Therefore art therapy allows them to express themselves if the verbal expression fails. Despite the memory loss associated with Alzheimer’s and dementia, other parts of the brain connected to emotions and aesthetics remain intact. Seniors with Alzheimer’s can use art in expressing their feelings and thoughts through drawings, paintings, and other forms of art. The colors, shapes, and lines can tell a story about the person.
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