Engagement for Seniors with Dementia

Seniors on BikesWhat’s the weather like today? Are you coming home soon? How many kids do you have now? Is it nice outside? When are you coming home? You have two boys and one girl?

For those with Dementia, if they are not actively engaged in a conversation or activity, and depending on their level of Dementia, they will start to ask the same 3-4 questions every few minutes. However, if you can keep the conversation going and ask them questions and let them tell you stories, those same 3-4 questions cease to exist until the conversation comes to a lull.

The same can be said with meaningful activities with those with dementia. If you can find a hobby or activity that interests your loved one and they enjoy spending time doing, the level of their overall contentment rises. They look forward to their hobby, they are refreshed afterwards, and may even get a better nights rest. If it’s a social activity, interacting with others can help improve their mental state, connect with others, and help alleviate depression.

A study published in the American Journal of Geriatric Society showed a significant decrease in challenging behaviors such as shadowing (constantly follow their caregivers around), repetitive questioning, agitation and argumentative interactions when activities that were of interest and at the right skill level were offered to people with dementia.

Physical activities and hobbies are also a wonderful way to keep those living with Dementia healthy and active. The benefits of physical activity is so important at this stage of life because it lowers the risk of heart disease and reduces blood pressure. Exercise can also reduce the risk of osteoporosis since it increases the strength in your bones.

If you’re not sure which activities would be a good fit for your loved one, take a look at their life. What did they enjoy doing when they were younger? Did they take care of children, watch sports, tinker with cars, bake, etc. Try to find an activity they can actively engage in that genuinely relates to who they are as a person.

Try different activities. If one doesn’t seem to engage your loved one, try something else. The importance of meaningful activities will increase their quality of life and create a new sense of purpose for them.