8 Tips For Engaging with People living with Dementia

8 Tips For Engaging with People living with Dementia

As a care worker or care assistant, planning and facilitating activities are excellent ways to improve the quality of life of your clients with dementia. Meaningful activities in care homes take some initial thought to ensure they engage instead of frustrate and overstimulate those cared for.

In this guide, you’ll discover ideas for your dementia care home activities board so that you can try different things to fit their needs and tastes. Plus, you’ll find useful information about why activities for those living with dementia are beneficial and how to shape them for the best outcomes.

The Benefits of Activities

One reason to make an effort with activities is that they facilitate engagement with your clients. It’s a new way to bond with them, bring out more of their personalities and a chance for you to find common ground, which can improve communication.

Improved mental well-being is a crucial benefit of engaging with people with dementia. Choosing a range of activities, including social, physical, mental and creative types, allows for different types of gentle stimulation.

No matter the stage of the condition, sensory activities for those living with dementia bring joy and can prompt memories and emotions. The sensory aspect allows everyone to engage without too many mental challenges.

8 Tips For Engaging with People living with Dementia

  1. Reminiscence Activities
  2. Gardening
  3. Drawing and Painting
  4. Music
  5. Puzzles
  6. Nature Walks
  7. Fabric Crafts
  8. Digital Engagement

Stimulating memories is easier through reminiscence activities. Fill a box with objects that the person you care for might have been familiar with in their childhoods. Choose different materials and things that aren’t used today to prompt fun questions to ask them about life back then.

It’s not only physical objects that trigger memories. People with dementia might relate more to sounds and music, providing a soothing or joyful route to memory care. Often sounds and smells can bring back vivid memories that the patients can share as a group and with you.

Gardening is a therapeutic activity that you can make work, no matter the size of your care home. Plant care can stimulate the senses whether you have a dedicated garden space or some window boxes. It’s a physical activity that helps with dexterity and can involve more demanding movements. Being able to work outdoors can provide a nice change of environment too.

It’s one of the top sensory activities for dementia, as the tactile feel of the soil, the aromas and the bright colours engage and delight. As well as enjoying caring for plants, there’s a feeling of accomplishment in seeing herbs, fruits, vegetables, flowers and plants grow.

A person living with dementia can get involved in activities. Drawing or painting fulfils the need for expression through creativity, making it a therapeutic and fun option. You can tap into fond memories or hobbies by getting your clients to draw a family member or paint their favourite place from a photo.

Another creative form of expression that’s beneficial is music. From listening to old favourites and creating playlists to singing and dancing, it’s one of the most enjoyable activities in care homes. People with dementia don’t lose their sense of rhythm, so exploring that side of themselves is uplifting.

Puzzles are an excellent way to keep hands and minds busy. The category is broad, which means you might need to try out a few types to see which your client likes best. Jigsaw puzzles can be a brightly-coloured, calming and mindful activity. Board games bring a social element, and cryptic crosswords challenge lateral thinking. 

It’s worth considering which stage of dementia a person is at to guide you on the difficulty level. If you notice signs of frustration, it might be too challenging. If they don’t seem interested or finish quickly, it might be too simple for them, so adjust accordingly.

Depending on where your care home or service is situated, you can find a way to take occasional or regular walks in nature. Somewhere away from traffic is best so that you can pick up on the different sounds, sights and smells.

It will stimulate the senses even if it’s exploring different parts of the garden and how they change through the seasons. A walk in nature gets the body moving, reduces anxiety and provides gentle stimulation that improves mental alertness, creativity and memory.

Eye-catching materials of different colours and textures appeal to the senses. Fabric crafts could start with sorting through boxes of swatches and categorising them. It’s an activity suitable for all stages of dementia. From there, you could introduce more advanced tasks, such as cutting out shapes, sewing and designing.

Caring for people with dementia and technology are compatible, so it’s worth including digital fun on your activity board. Access to a tablet can open up a whole new world for them. Besides using it for social connection, there are plenty of apps that stimulate. Some provide specific games for those living with dementia, but you can also find card games, colouring and virtual museums.

Start Planning

Dementia doesn’t make fun activities impossible. Spending time together singing, painting or gardening will make you and the people you care and support happier and improve their quality of life. With a small amount of planning, mental-wellbeing can be improved through enjoyment, expression, reminiscing and a sense of accomplishment. 

Whether you are caring for people with dementia or planning to work in a role like this, these dementia care activities can be helpful for demonstrating your passion at interview. A career caring for people with dementia will be demanding, but as demonstrated here, is varied and rewarding too. You can find your next role in caring for people with dementia.