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Activities for Seniors with Dementia

Maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle is essential, regardless of your age, mental or physical condition.

Currently, what we find is a hugely extended life expectancy. This results from decades of cleaner living conditions, education, vaccination, elimination of many life-threatening diseases, better healthcare, and nutrition.

As the world’s population demographic skews more towards aging, the focus of medical science has shifted increasingly to the issues faced by this group of people all over the world. In this article, we'll go over the current life expectancy of adults, the importance of staying active, and good activities for seniors with dementia.

Are Humans Living Longer?

In the year 2000, for the first time in human history, more people were aged above 60 on Earth, compared to those below 5!

Research shows that in the 1950s that 56% of men and 65% of women in the US reached 65. Once this age was crossed, men lived an average of 13 years more and women about 16 years.

The figures jumped drastically just five decades later. World Bank statistics showed that in 2010, 84% of men and 89% of women attained age 65. Men are expected to live 17 more years after this, while women may live for 19 more years post 65.

On average, a person born in 1960 could hope to live till age 52-53. But someone born in this decade can easily live up to 79-82 years of age.

Life expectancy figures are projected to move steadily upwards in the future.

A significant contributing factor is the decline of child mortality. Studies conducted in the 1800s showed more than 40% of newborns did not live past their 5th birthday, whereas this figure came down to 4% in 2015. 

The Impact of A Longer Lifespan

This new paradigm brings hitherto unknown factors into play. Maintaining an independent, enriched lifestyle, where an older population can contribute significantly to society, is of primary concern today.

Social scientists and medical professionals are concerned with ensuring that this extended life span incorporates a better quality of life. Making the added years qualitatively more valuable, financially secure, and livable is everyone’s responsibility.

Society must recognize and accommodate the needs and preferences of this new demographic. This could result in older retirement age, new forms of retirement planning, making care and safety a priority, and a greater focus on the physical and emotional aspects of aging. That is one of the reasons why governments and private entities all over the world urgently need to establish good quality resources. Care homes in Victoria BC are an excellent example of these. 

Benefits of Staying Active For Seniors

Physical activity is one of the components that contribute to a better quality of life.

For seniors who have been diagnosed with dementia or related conditions such as Alzheimer’s, this aspect becomes even more significant. This is because they have a greater need to maintain cognitive, emotional, and physical well-being but are less capable of initiating or finding avenues to help themselves.

Whatever their level of fitness or health condition, seniors can engage in some degree of activity that involves a variety of features such as exercise, sports, activities of daily living, transportation, work, and leisure.

It has been recognized as a protective shield against many diseases such as diabetes, stroke, cardiovascular disease, and certain types of cancer. Emotional wellness is also associated with regular physical activity. Scheduled and structured physical activity has been shown to delay the onset of dementia, improving the person’s overall quality of life. It also reflects the condition of motor function and control, along with fitness and cognitive function. 

Activities For Dementia Patients

Dementia and conditions associated with it tend to make the affected person withdraw from routine activities, stay aloof from social situations, interests, family, and intimate relationships. Significant memory impairments such as losing control over familiar places, failure to recognize loved ones, and loss of identity can be highly distressing and frightening in the early stages.

Keeping seniors engaged, giving structure and shape to their time, offering consistency and predictability play a significant role in making them feel safe and comfortable.

Along with this, a regular regimen of physical and mental activity can help them have a better quality of life.

It is important to remember that every dementia patient is unique. Hence, design the activity sessions keeping individual capacity, needs, and preferences in mind. The activities for people with dementia are quite simple but can make a significant difference in their quality of life.

Puzzle

Simple Games

As the condition progresses, dementia may cause loss of arithmetical and language ability. Provide your seniors the option of playing simple, non-complex board games such as Ludo, Snakes & Ladders, etc. You can also keep them engaged with easy-level jigsaw puzzles, larger-sized Lego, card-matching games, easy crossword puzzles, etc. Playing simple games for dementia patients will keep promoting engagement without frustrating them.

Adult coloring book

Art & Craft

Adult coloring books, dot-to-dot activity books, simple knitting, sewing, or painting are all soothing Alzheimer's activities, plus they give a sense of fulfillment and reward when you complete a piece. You can also offer activities such as:

  • Easy ceramic mug painting
  • Pottery and terracotta crafts
  • Jewelry making
  • Crochet
  • Macrame
  • And Decoupage projects

Along with art and craft, music has a beneficial effect too. Regular and structured sessions of music that the person enjoys, whether classical, pop, fusion, opera, vocals, instrumental, etc., can help to soothe and stimulate. If they enjoy dancing, this is a great activity too.

Baking

Cooking and Baking

These must be done under supervision. You can extend the activity by helping them to recall the recipe, assemble the ingredients and finally serve the dish in an artistic way. While you’re about it, you can use magnetic letters to stick on the baking tray or fridge to spell their names or those of family and friends.

Chair Yoga

Bending, stretching, and flexing are great activities for seniors. Play some lively music, especially some of the older numbers, for a fun exercise session. Ensure that you don’t overdo the sessions because seniors can get quickly exhausted. When it comes to activities for the elderly with dementia, chair yoga is a great low-risk physical way to stay active.

Seniors sitting on bench outside

Outdoor Activities

Long and leisurely walks are soothing and stimulating at the same time. If you have a park or garden nearby, fix a regular time to accompany the seniors for walks. Never let them go alone and keep them within your view at all times. As a caregiver or family member accompanying seniors on outdoor activities, it’s essential to stay alert and not get distracted by your phone. Gardening is an excellent activity with various things to do, such as weeding, pruning, watering, sweeping, and digging.

These fun activities for seniors with dementia offer an inexpensive and healthy method of keeping older adults healthy, happy, and safe. It's always essential to practice patience when participating in these activities and to guide them through it if they show signs of struggle.

More Caregiving REsources

The Guide to Dementia Caregiving

The Guide to Dementia Caregiving

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The Caregiver's Guide to In-Home Safety

The Ultimate Guide to Caregiving

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The Caregiver's Guide to In-Home Safety

The Caregiver's Guide to In-Home Safety

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5 Common Caregiving Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

5 Common Caregiving Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

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About the Author

Brandon Landgraf is the Digital Marketing Manager for Carex Health Brands. He finds passion and fulfillment in creating content that enhances, improves, and enlivens others' quality of life. All of his written work is formulated to not only offer essential advice and tips but back it with proven studies and experts. His mission is to connect with readers and provide steps to make their lives better.

You can connect with him on LinkedIn here.

About Carex Health Brands

Carex is your one-stop shop for home medical equipment and for products that assist caregivers with providing the best possible support and care for their loved ones. Carex Health Brands has been the branded leader in in-home, self-care medical products for over 35 years. Our goal is to improve the lives of our customers by bring them quality products that bring dignity back to their lives. With our three nationally distributed brands, Carex Health Brands serves national, regional and independent food, drug and mass retailers along with wholesalers, distributors and medical dealers.

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