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8 ways to engage and enrich the lives of those living with dementia symptoms

September 30, 2021


When someone in the family has dementia symptoms or Alzheimer’s disease, any daily activity can pose a new challenge.

Thankfully, caregivers can engage and reinvigorate the mind. Using customized activities based on the individual’s interests, strengths and talents, you and your loved one can experience new fulfilling events.

Here are 10 ways to awaken new opportunities for engagement, which can enrich the lives of people with Alzheimer’s or those who show dementia symptoms.

Unleash the power of sound

Do they play an instrument or love the sounds of music in the air? Then sound experimentation could be for them.

Begin with simple sounds and simple instruments. Build on this listening activity by adding songs with easy sing-alongs. For some, music is a gateway to increased mental function. As it turns out,  musical ability typically outlasts memory capability.

If needed, go back to the music basics. Nursery rhymes and small handheld instruments like maracas can lead to new creative expressions.

Touch and feel through crafts

Malleable clay allows seniors to manipulate and gain tactile stimulation, which is beneficial.

Individuals facing cognitive decline do not always have an easy outlet that stimulate their senses and creativity. Clay is one of those do-it-all crafts that engages multiple senses and encourages creativity. All the textures, smells, sizes, shapes and pliability add to their tactile experience.

Your loved one might also enjoy rubbing their hands together in lotion.

Awaken cherished memories

This activity does not necessarily require old photos or video. Instead, focus on clear imagery from magazines or the Internet that fit your loved one’s interest.

Broad categories like food, cars, fashion, music, and nature will do. As a secondary exercise, family members can arrange images in a scrapbook to create a bigger picture and awaken their most cherished memories. 

Include family photos for more storytelling.

Journey through TV programs

Subscribe to classic movies channels or browse the variety of streaming services to find something from their heyday.

Titles that speak directly to your family member can trigger fun memories.

And who does not love movie night with their favorite snacks?

Solve simple puzzles, untie knots, fold laundry

Simple activities such as putting together a low-count puzzle, untying a knot or folding laundry can help your family member stay active.

Soft fabric and repetition of easy movement is calming. Using hand and finger dexterity to tinker can build confidence.

A simple knot exercise can be enjoyable.

These easy but stimulating tasks are beneficial.

Smell the roses

Going for a walk and taking some time to smell the roses can activate strong memories and emotions.

Scents are processed in parts of the brain that also help regulate memory. So, internalizing a flowery scent can give rise to your loved ones’ most positive memories.

Caution: There is the possibility of the opposite effect. Smells associated with negative events can trigger sadness or anxiety and should be avoided.

Explore attractions digitally

Use your tech savviness to explore the world with your loved one.

Maybe they will enjoy a digital trip to the zoo, aquarium, live concert or nature preserve. Do not forget to check out some world-famous museums, which offer continuous live tours. There are plenty of great museums near Hollenbeck Palms.

This immersive experience can transport your loved one to an enjoyable getaway.

Travel the world digitally

Google Earth is a window to almost any place on earth.

You can help your loved one reconnect with a place they once knew. Many locations on Google Earth include volumes of photos and street views of their childhood hometown or their favorite vacation destination.

One door can lead to another as Google provides endless exploration possibilities.

Hollenbeck Palms puts a lot of emphasis on improving life for people with Alzheimer’s or those who show dementia symptoms.

We are opening a Memory Enhancement Center, this year. Please e-mail Zdubin@holpalms.com or call 323-307-4505.