Practical resources to help family caregivers in the midst of caring for someone

Dementia and activity ideas during this COVID-19 pandemic

We all have a need to find activities that give us purpose, fuel the spirit, and meet our basic daily needs. Creating opportunities for activities can be challenging with a parent with dementia at the best of times. During these difficult pandemic times, it may be even more challenging. There may  be boredom and loneliness, which are two common triggers for a responsive behaviour. Engaging a parent in meaningful activities may help to prevent both boredom and loneliness and it sets your parent up to feel self-confident, productive and useful.

Activities can be recreational in nature  and can also involve daily self-care and household tasks. They can also be adapted to the ability of your parent whether in early, middle or later stages of dementia.

Be flexible, be creative, have fun. The goal is not the final product, but the enjoyment of the activity.

Introducing an activity

When offering an activity keep in mind the following suggestions:

  • Provide a reason for the activity: “Hey Dad I could sure use your help setting the table”.
  • Break down the task into simple instructions.
  • Support your parent, avoid doing the task for them.
  • Offer encouragement and gratitude.
  • Choose the time of day that is the most appropriate for a specific activity e.g. breakfast meal.
  • Be aware of the environment (quiet, familiar settings with good lighting are best).
  • Integrate activities into a daily routine whenever possible.

 Physical Exercise

Love to Move is a gymnastics exercise programme developed by the British Gymnastics Foundation (BGF) for older adults, in particular those living with dementia. The programme is chair-based and is thoughtfully designed to improve wellbeing in mind and body. During COVID 19, Love to Move have developed a video for caregivers with an at home exercise option and  accompanying booklet.

Using Technology

AcTo Dementia is an international research project. AcTo provides recommendations and guidance on accessible touchscreen apps for people living with dementia. This website is an ideal resource for anyone with a diagnosis of dementia, or anyone looking to support a person with a diagnosis.

Adult Colouring Books

Keep Calm and Carry On was an inspirational slogan poster produced by the British government in 1939 and continues to be widely used today. The slogan is motivational and intended to raise morale during challenging times. Colouring pages offer fun variations of the slogan such as “Keep Calm and Stay Strong” or “Keep Calm and Love Cats”.

Montessori-based activities

Based on the principles found in Maria Montessori’s teaching methods, Montessori-based activities are adapted to make them applicable to adults with dementia. Try a sensory or sorting activity to stimulate the mind.

Personalized Music

The Alzheimer Society Music Project reconnects people with the soundtrack of their lives by providing MP3 players loaded with personalized music to people living with dementia.

Listening to personalized music can be a powerful activity for those with dementia.  Music has the potential to: increase physical and social activity; reignite older memories; and improve sleep, mood, cognition, communication, and overall quality of life.

This program is available at no cost to people living with dementia within participating areas in Canada. (Comes with one MP3 player with a charging cable, wall charger, over-the-ear headphones, and free music).

More ideas

Check out other articles on Elizz and your local Alzheimer Society for more valuable activity ideas.

Share with us a favourite creative activity you have tried with your parent.

 

 

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  • Elma Thiessen
    Tue Apr 21 2020, 15:39
    Hi. My hubby has a later stage of dementia . Are there ideas for wives or help for us who deal with things continually? Is the music program available for people in Manitoba?
  • Caroline
    Wed Apr 22 2020, 16:32
    Thanks so much for all these helpful ideas. Work as a companion. Miss all my lovely friends during this pandemic. Stay home everyone
  • Dorothy Merrifield
    Fri Apr 24 2020, 12:07
    Thank you for your information, it is always helpful and informative! I wish you could refer to the person requiring care as partner or spouse as apposed to parent most of the time. As the main caregiver to my spouse our children do very little in the way of care. Maybe I’m being over sensitive because of the times but it bothers me and I’m sure I’m not alone. Thank you for all you do, Dorothy
  • Jerry/Carol Springer
    Mon Apr 27 2020, 00:41
    Jerry has been diagnosed with vascular dementia. We are at Gull Lake. Would he qualify for the MP3 to listen to music. Thanks for your help.