3 Smart Ways to Empower People with Dementia through Activities
Planning regular activities is challenging work. And creating truly meaningful activities for your loved one with dementia can be an increasingly difficult task. As fine-motor skills weaken and language slows, finding ways to connect can be a struggle.
Would you like to create truly engaging activities, but you’re not sure how? Would you like to utilize projects to strengthen the bond between you and your loved one, but aren’t sure how to create the connection with them?
Here are 3 Pieces to Consider:
1. A Person’s History is Key
What profession did your loved one choose? Which roles did they have, and how can we preserve or re-imagine some of that?
Is he or she an extrovert or an introvert? What were his or her hobbies before the dementia set in?
All of these details need to be considered for determining which activities your loved one might enjoy.
While an extrovert is likely to enjoy group activities like Bingo, your introvert would probably much rather do something on their own like solve puzzles or organize coins (a great activity for former accountants).
Adapting the activity to your loved one’s natural disposition and likes is as important as the activity itself.
2. All People “Need to be Needed”
Dementia robs people of the roles and responsibilities that help define who they are. But the need to be needed, the desire for a purpose and wanting to contribute, remains even into the later stages.
Used correctly, activities can give a person just that.
A simple “Claire, you are so good at organizing. I could really use your help with this. Do you think you could sort these cards for me? It would make such a difference” can go a long way to making a person feel valued and appreciated.
Ending with a genuine “Thank you so much for your help. I couldn’t have done it without you“, will not only boost Claire’s sense of self-worth, but strengthens the bond between the both of you.
3. GEM™ Level Matters
Teepa Snow’s own dementia classification model “GEMS™” compares different states of being and ability to the characteristics of precious jewels.
Instead of focusing on what your loved one might have lost, focus on what is still there.
When creating activities, be careful not to include tasks that are beyond their capabilities. Not being able to complete an exercise could leave your loved one feeling bad about themselves.
Instead, pick an activity that utilizes your loved one’s remaining skills and makes them shine like the jewel they are.