Providing seniors with meaningful activities lifts spirits, enhances mood and provides several mental health benefits. Maintaining a sense of purpose and self-reliance is very important to seniors even when they are in need of caregiving due to dementia or major physical limitations. As their caregiver, you have the ability to help provide meaningful moments that can change their lives as well as yours.
Create Meaningful Activities by Mixing It Up
Doing a variety of meaningful activities with seniors is important even if they may not remember what they did the day before. Seniors with dementia live moment to moment and the right activities can greatly benefit their body and mental health. Those happy moments do stay with them, helping to shape their future days. Plus, you can hold the details of those meaningful times shared together for the both of you.
Below are target areas for engaging your loved one’s whole self.
- Socialization. Group activities and outings are great ways to promote socialization. Even when a resident or family member does not actively engage, just being in the presence of others can be beneficial to their well being.
- Mental Stimulation. Games are a great way to stimulate the mind. A favorite among many seniors with dementia is reciting old sayings. Begin a phrase such as, “Never judge a book by…”, and allow them to finish, “its cover”. Games like these also boost self esteem and can bring smiles and laughter to the both of you.
- Physical Exercise. Each person will have a different idea of what’s meaningful to them when it comes to exercise. Some enjoy raking as they listen to the sounds of the prongs gathering crunchy brown leaves while others get their hearts pumping with aerobics and Elvis tunes! Find out what get them going and incorporate that in to a physical activity.
- Sensory Stimulation. Engage the senses with pleasing sounds, aromas, soft fabrics, cooking and baking, or sights apart from what’s seen on a daily basis.
- Creativity. Nourish their creative side through arts and crafts. Remember to modify accordingly and focus on having fun in the moment not the just end result.
- Emotional Enhancement. One of the most meaningful activities you can do is one-on-one time with each other. Try reminiscing or talking about feel good subjects.
- Spiritual Nourishment. Spiritual activities vary depending on each persons beliefs. Whether it’s having a church song sing-a-long or sitting quietly on a bench enjoying mother nature, find what nourishes his or her soul and help make it possible.
- Cultural Celebrations. Holidays and other celebrations can bring back familiar and comforting decor, music, food and fun.
- Productivity. The feeling of loosing purpose is very common among seniors who have caregivers. Design activities based on reestablishing old routines so your loved one can feel productive, useful and needed again. This could include things like laundry folding, and helping with baking.
An activity may be a hit one day and unsuccessful the next. Don’t be discouraged, if something doesn’t work out in the moment. You can always try again another time and move on to something else in the meantime. Do you have a favorite meaningful activity? Share an activity that you and your loved one enjoy in the comments below!