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Part II: Engaging activities for you and a loved one with Alzheimer’s and Dementia

Stimulating, engaging activities to do with your loved Ones

Caregivers that I meet with often tell me that it is difficult in the winter months to keep their loved one engaged in social activities outside of the home. It is very important to keep your loved ones, especially those with Alzheimer’s and dementia, engaged in social activities. These activities can have many benefits. Research shows that engaging in social activities can slow the progression of such conditions in addition to being able to create a stronger bond with the loved one that you care for.  

Spring is here, the weather is warming up, birds are chirping and flowers are getting ready to bloom.  Here are some fun and simple activities to do with your loved ones;

Gardening together. Gardening can offer a stress reducing therapeutic experience for your loved one. Giving your loved ones purposeful tasks such as scooping and digging the dirt,  planting and watering the seeds can provide a sense of accomplishment to your loved one’s hard work.

Watch old movies together. According to the Arbor Company Senior Living Blog, “remembering and reminiscing about the past are powerful drivers for seniors with dementia because they activate and strengthen existing connections in the brain. Watching an old movie is both relaxing for dementia sufferers and helps them recall what they enjoyed about the movie in the first place. And in our digital age, old movies (as well as classic television shows) can be easily found on cable and satellite TV, on DVD, or on a streaming service such as Netflix.”  Click for Article.

Board Games, Card Games, dominoes, puzzles or coloring books.  Board games, card games and dominoes offer stimulation and challenges for the brain and trigger problem solving skills. I often recommend these kinds of activities to the that I meet with not for the purpose of knowing how to play the game, but rather to use these kinds of activities for cognitive stimulation. For example, try something as simple as sorting a deck of cards by suits, or by color, or matching dominoes for the number of dots. Puzzles offer stimulating concentration, and help strengthen short-term memory as well as improve spatial and visual relations. According to the website Clarity Pointe, research has shown that doing puzzles with seniors with dementia can decrease the rate of cognitive decline.  Click for Article.

Social Activities & Interaction.  Bring your loved one to your local to engage in activities and social interactions with others. According to research, maintaining social interactions helps to improve or slow cognitive impairment or decline. When you loved one has the most basic exchange of conversation they have to think about how to respond and it stimulates the brain. Social interactions also helps decrease mental health conditions such as and anxiety, as well as lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of cardiovascular problems. Local often have a calendar of events that they distribute. Give your local a call to get a copy of upcoming events and activities.

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Caregiving MetroWest is a no-cost program of BayPath Elder Services, Inc. and was made possible in part by grants from the MetroWest Health Foundation.

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BayPath Elder Services, Inc.'s Family Caregiver Support Program and Caregiving MetroWest are grateful for the generous support of our community partner, Avidia Bank, which helps us continue to give area family caregivers the information, resources and support they need.