Fun in the Sun: Summertime activities for Dementia Patients
It’s summer time! Yey! So now what do we do with grandma? How do we incorporate her to our summer activities? How do we get her outside to enjoy some fun in the sun, even with her onset dementia? Sounds familiar?... This question is being part of many households this time of the year. So here I gathered a few ideas from several web places specialized on dementia.
It is like a simple recipe, it takes a pinch of patience, a mixture of humor and a full spoon of creativity. It is always important to have the person with dementia at the center and mold the activities according to what he or she may like and once loved doing. And above all, treat them with respect, remember they are not children, in the end you will find yourself having fun too.
- Music. Summer is known for being that time of the year that features most music hits of the year. Remember those tunes from the Beach Boys, Nat King Cole, Jan & Dean or for those younger rocker minds Alice Cooper, Brian Adams or Bananarama, all of these listed by Billboard as the top summer songs. Try looking for those songs that have a special ring on that older heart even if they don’t have that sunny tune as music has the amazing ability of triggering special memories for anyone.
- Pet Therapy. For those animal lovers this could be a great alternative. The response from a person with dementia towards a dog or cat can be heartwarming. Do the research first, try digging in their minds if they once had a special pet.
- Cooking and Baking. For me specially, when I cook a meal or bake my delicious banana bread, it is special moment of peace, I feel “in the zone”, like all my thoughts about anything that is going on in my life get clearer. And it can be therapeutic for people with dementia who once loved to cook and were quite the chefs. Try simple recipes, like a delicious and fresh fruit salad, decorating cookies, building sandwiches, helping with the BBQ grilling, etc. As music, the sense of smell can evoke memories and catalyze stories from the past they may have thought forgotten. And another plus is that food often brings people together and many life experiences revolve around meals.
- Get crafty. The art of painting can help release many trapped feelings and memories. Any type of technique can be used, even if the person with dementia doesn’t have that much of experience, it can be quite entertaining and relaxing. Also going through old pictures often produces storytelling and going to the archive of memories. Any other manual work, like stringing (putting popcorn, or cereal in a string to hang outside for birds to feed), building a clay sculpture, making collages, build picture frames, etc… the list is quite big! Another great site for crafty ideas… Pinterest!
- Exercise. People with dementia may often feel confused and scared by their surroundings, which is why they can certainly use a boost of mood, and exercise can do essentially that. For those who can walk, going for a stroll, dancing or even helping with the chores around the house gets them moving and exercising those muscles. For those who are bedbound there are other types of activities that can be done to strengthen both arms and hand muscles. Tai Chi and Yoga are two types of exercise often preferred by the elder community. There is a variety of sports implements that can help in the Discount Medical Supplies’ fitness equipment section.
For people with dementia there is always a time and place for any of these activities. Do not force anything they are not on the mood for doing. Set the proper stage with the correct lighting and equipment (if needed), avoid cluttered spaces to prevent confusion and distraction. Keep the activities suited for their specific stage of dementia and most importantly when they are not tired. Have in mind that a person with dementia can have his or her good and bad days, watch for the type of day they are having and also for any mood change during the time of the activity.