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How To for Activities

Incorporating Activities into the Care of the Person with Dementia

The person living with dementia may become more reluctant to do activities as their abilities decline. This may be due to fear of the unknown, fear of failure, or just due to the nature of the disease. All can lead to inactivity and boredom. People with mild cognitive impairment or beginning early stage dementia can take steps themselves to stay active. But as the person declines, he will need the guidance and support of caregivers - which may be family or hired staff in a private home or "home" in a memory care facility. MindStart activity products give caregivers quick and simple items that can be added to the daily routine. Other factors to consider when working with dementia include:

Set-up for Alzheimer's Activities

Consider these factors when setting up activities or tasks for the person with dementia:
St. Paul Pioneer Press 10/30/2011
  • Time of day. For example, a more physical activity for when the person has more energy and a low-key activity for later in the day
  • The environment where the activity takes place. Is it too loud, is the area cluttered? Aim for a calm setting.
  • Does the person prefer to do things alone or with just 1 person? Or do they like social events with more people?

Communication Approaches for Dementia Activities

Most patients with dementia will not initiate activities and may not want to do things when asked. But the approach the caregiver uses to offer an activity and how the person is supported during the activity, can make a difference.
  • The caregiver may ask the person indirectly to participate. For example, instead of, "Do you want to play a game?" try "I have something that I need your help with." This approach can be less threatening to the person with dementia.
  • Be flexible and allow for errors; it is the doing that is important, not the outcome
  • Give praise and thanks for the efforts made by the person

Learning to Simplify for Alzheimer Activities

Activities can be simplified in a progressive manner to allow success for multiple stages of dementia Here is an example of how you would simplify the activity of washing dishes, starting from the caregiver providing minimal assistance to maximal assistance:
  • Set-up: The person can complete the activity after the required supplies are set-up. The soap and dishrag are place next to the sink of dirty dishes.
  • Supervision: The person requires supervision to help with recognizing errors and solving unexpected problems. The correct water temperature is monitored
  • Prompting: The person requires verbal and/or physical prompts. A missed stain is pointed out or "what next?" is asked when the dishes are washed but not dried.
  • Direct verbal cues: The person requires cues delivered one or two steps at a time. "Put the soap in the water. Rub the plate with the washcloth", etc.
  • Physical assistance: The person requires your hand over theirs to direct the action. Your hand over their hand, guides the motion of washing the dish.