What is dementia?
In the UK, 850,000 people live with dementia, making it one of the most common health issues among those aged 65 and over. As a general term for a decline in mental ability, dementia can impact how people feel, behave and go about their daily activities, as well as their general health.
For Sunrise Senior Living UK's residents, and indeed for all older people, the word dementia refers to myriad different symptoms. Whilst memory loss is usually the most commonly attributed symptom, confusion, mood changes and communication difficulties are also all possible.
However, living with dementia should not mean that anyone needs to stop doing the things they are passionate about. And for people living with dementia, a lack of stimulation can be frustrating and boring.
Why are activities so important?
For people with dementia, a stable routine and continuity are important. Activities, whether they kick-start a brand new skill or are as simple as doing the washing up, can encourage independence and purpose in and around the home, make a person feel valued and stave off boredom and challenging behaviours.
There are all kinds of activities that people can enjoy, that can encourage both living well with dementia and the improvement of wellbeing.
These can include physical, mental, social and creative activities, which can all also be shared if you care for someone with dementia. These can also be activities that an individual already takes part in – although these may take longer than usual to complete. Alternatively, encourage your loved one to try their hand at a new activity to pursue a new passion or develop a skill.
Sunrise Senior Living UK communities encourage lots of interesting and stimulating activities which others at home can try together. These include:
There are lots of community-based opportunities which can encourage socialising and being active with neighbours, friends and family. Importantly, there are also national efforts to make more places dementia-friendly and ensure team members know the support required for those with dementia.
- Sports-based activities such as walking or swimming
- Reminiscence-based work like creating a memory box or putting photos, music clips and videos together on an electronic device.
- Going along to a local memory or dementia café. Sunrise host many of these informal drop-in sessions in their communities across the country, which offer the perfect opportunity to learn more about dementia and share experiences and support.
- Dementia-friendly film screenings or theatre productions.
- Sensory gardens which stimulate the senses with a variety of features to touch, see, smell and hear.
The advancement of digital devices can be an especially great thing for those living with dementia. Particularly popular digital activities include:
- Playing online games and puzzles.
- Using specific and dedicated dementia apps.
- Enjoying videos, films, shows and music.
- The tasks that make up our daily routines can be extremely important to those living with dementia. These can include getting dressed and washed, washing up and folding clothes – anything that can be repeated again and again.
For those in the later stages of dementia, activities that stimulate the senses can still be encouraged. Simplified activities which provide something to interact with, an object to touch, or music to listen to, can all be ways to ensure that these individuals remain engaged.
Fundamentally, participating in activities can improve the quality of life for people living with dementia. Whilst activities can practically maintain skills and keep boredom and challenging behaviour at bay, engaging in activities with a loved one can bring pleasure to both of you as you share memories together and keep in touch with neighbours, family and friends.
If you or a loved one has recently been diagnosed with dementia, contact Sunrise Senior Living UK to find out more about how we can help. You can also visit your nearest Sunrise community.