As seniors age, it’s common for them to experience small lapses in memory. Some seniors, however, are living with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. This means that they’ll have more advanced memory struggles.
This can be frustrating for both the seniors and their families. Caring for a loved one who is losing their memory is a struggle.
That said, enrichment is a huge help when it comes to caring for someone with memory loss. There are plenty of stimulating memory activities that you can try with the elderly person in your life.
Keep reading to learn all about memory care activities for people who are living with dementia.
1. Assembling a Scrapbook
One of the best and most enjoyable activities that you can do with a senior who is struggling with memory loss is assembling a scrapbook or photo album.
When you bring out photos or mementos from the senior’s past, it will trigger memories. Keep in mind that not every photo will trigger a memory, and that’s okay.
You’ll remind your loved one of happier times. You may have photos and mementos from vacations, photos of family members, or scraps and tickets from fun events or activities.
Assembling the photo album or scrapbook is also stimulating. The simple act of gluing photos in place and decorating pages is an enriching activity that requires focus and mindfulness.
If a scrapbook isn’t enough, consider making a memory shadow box. This way, you can use larger objects (such as souvenirs from trips) as well.
2. Listening to Music
Did you know that listening to music is an enrichment activity?
Listening to music is a sensory activity that can trigger memories. It can ease symptoms of Alzheimer’s and it may be an effective measure for slowing down the progression of the disease.
You can use both new music and old music. New music will be more interesting and trigger new thoughts. Old music may trigger memories.
For example, consider playing your loved one’s first-dance song from their wedding, or a song that they loved to sing when they were younger. If they used to play music, try to find a recording and play it back to them.
Keep in mind that music can also trigger emotions. Be ready to handle emotional dysregulation.
Gardening is a fantastic enrichment activity for people who are living with dementia or Alzheimer’s. As long as someone is observing them, it’s safe, fun, and productive.
Gardening gives seniors something to take care of. They get to see the (sometimes literal) fruits of their labor, which can be motivating. It also allows them to work with their hands which provides a sensory experience.
Gardening is another mindful activity. It gets seniors outdoors and helps them establish and stick to a routine.
4. Doing Old Skills and Hobbies
Gardening is a great hobby for seniors, but you can also start doing activities with them that they used to enjoy. Let them flex their former skills and experience their favorite hobbies again.
Practicing skills is great for memory retention. Many people, even if they’re experiencing memory loss, can still recall their old skills when they’re asked to do so.
For example, playing music is a skill that many people retain well into old age, even if they’re out of practice. Hand your loved one their favorite instrument and watch them re-acquaint themself with it.
Did your loved one formerly love to paint? Bring them a canvas and some paint and see if they’re interested in starting that hobby again. For people with significant dementia, make sure that they always paint under supervision.
Tactile hobbies and activities are best. Knitting, drawing, playing music, crafting, and even baking (with supervision) can be stimulating for seniors with memory struggles.
Gentle exercise is good for seniors in general, but it’s also stimulating for seniors who are suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s.
Keeping the body active also keeps the brain active. It will allow seniors to maintain a better quality of life for longer. But how can seniors exercise when they’re already struggling with their mobility?
First, consider simple walks outdoors (with supervision). A nature walk is a great way to get exercise and have a stimulating experience. Seeing wildlife will enrich your loved one’s life.
Many elderly people enjoy yoga. It’s safe and effective for building strength and mindfulness. Look online for great yoga poses for seniors or local yoga classes.
It should be no surprise that puzzles are stimulating for seniors. Difficult puzzles might be frustrating, so use your best judgment when you’re choosing one for your loved one.
You can use standard jigsaw puzzles for a tactile activity, but you can also use crossword puzzles, logic puzzles, and even sudoku. Your loved one may need some assistance, but they’ll be able to exercise their brains and feel fulfilled after solving even simple puzzles.
7. Adult Coloring Books
If puzzles are too complicated at the moment, adult coloring books are a good solution.
You could use a child’s coloring book, but for many seniors who are early in their dementia progression, these are too simple and not interesting enough. Adult coloring books have more complex designs and interesting features.
Seniors will have to test their hand-eye coordination while they color. Coloring is also a mindful activity. Coloring in an adult coloring book can be soothing and meditative as well as stimulating.
These Memory Activities Are Great for Enrichment
Memory activities aren’t just memory games. From puzzles to exercise, there are plenty of things that the senior in your life can do to stay stimulated and enriched.
Enrichment activities will enhance their quality of life and keep them sharper. Have fun with your loved one by trying some of these enrichment activities.
Is the senior in your life ready to move into a memory care facility? At Parsons House on Eagle Run, our compassionate care team wants to help. Contact us for more information about memory care and assisted living today.