Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is a theory that places human needs in a five-tier pyramid. At the bottom are the fundamental basics for existence, such as food, water and warmth. As you climb the pyramid, the needs become more complex, such as the need for love and relationships, and the need for feelings of accomplishment, finally culminating in the need to achieve one’s full potential.
While dementia is sometimes described as a gradual loss of self, these fundamental needs can remain intact for a long time. Stimulating activities can help to maintain a sense of accomplishment and worth, while encouraging moments of genuine fun and happiness. At Bathing Solutions, we’ve put together a list of activities to do with someone suffering from dementia.
Creative activities can be therapeutic while fostering a sense of achievement. They can also give carers insight into how the sufferer is feeling.
Drawing and painting are relaxing, stimulating, and promote a level of meditative concentration that can help distance someone with dementia from their worries and anxieties. They’ll also come away with a work of art they can be proud of.
For carers, these activities can open up conversation, allowing you to discuss what they’re drawing or painting. In turn, this may lead to the exploration of memories related to the subject matter.
Asking a dementia sufferer about their favourite films and watching them together can stimulate memory and emotional connection.
Many TVs can also be used as monitors, so you can scroll through inspiring or meaningful photographs and images. You’ll find virtual libraries of interesting imagery or you can upload family photographs.
For something more immersive, video games help exercise concentration and hand-eye coordination. Many video games are easy to follow and engage in, with some based on activities such as tennis or bowling.
Certain routines, such as washing and bathing, can fall by the wayside as dementia takes hold. In addition, sufferers can develop sensitivity to changes in water pressure and temperature, making them unwilling to wash. On top of that, the bathroom can be a dangerous place for those with neurodegenerative conditions.
However, feeling clean and looking good can do wonders for a sufferer’s self-esteem. Before the illness progresses too far, consider a walk-in shower, walk-in bath or even a wet room to make the routine as easy and inviting as possible. Sometimes something as simple as a grab bar can make all the difference.
Even when a dementia patient requires help washing, it can be turned into a positive activity that leaves them feeling that little bit better.
A study conducted by the University of Sterling shows that exercise can offer some benefits to dementia sufferers. Not only does it help to maintain physical health, it can also support certain motor skills, such as balance.
Exercise doesn’t have to be a vigorous activity; it can be something as low-key as a game of snooker or even table-top golf or skittles.
If ball games are important to the patient, you may find that, over time, traditional balls need to be replaced with inflatable or foam balls, giving all the excitement of the game, but without the same level of physical effort or the associated risks.
Listening to music can evoke vivid memories and emotions and offer a deep connection to people and the past.
Those who play a musical instrument may take comfort in continuing to practice, as this is a skill that can remain constant even in the later stages of the illness. Those who haven’t learned an instrument before may still enjoy joining in on percussive instruments, as making music can foster concentration through rhythmic repetition.
Dementia can be an isolating illness. However, encouraging sufferers to take part in fun and stimulating activities with other people can be a great way to strengthen their connections with the outside world.