Keeping clients with dementia entertained can be difficult even during normal times, never mind during COVID-19. So, we’ve shared the following tips on both digital and in house activities for carers to try with their residents and clients!
Online and digital activities for residents with dementia
Technology such as smartphones, laptops and tablets offer a variety of ways to keep clients engaged and stimulated. Some are for everyone and some are specially designed for people living with dementia.
Virtual assistant devices (for example Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Assistant) can be useful in providing entertainment and information.
If listening to music is for you, BBC Music Memories and m4d Radio can help people with dementia reconnect with their most powerful memories. The site also has BBC Memory Radio and these are also available on BBC Sounds.
You could make a playlist of favourite songs. Playlist for Life has information about music and dementia, and advice about how to listen to it. Alzheimer’s UK run Singing for the Brain virtual sessions.
Many broadcasters and arts institutions are making their media free or offering a range of things to watch and listen to. For example, the BBC has increased the content available on iPlayer.
You can also try Spotify or YouTube. YouTube has a karaoke feature or you can watch clips from specific decades, films or sports. It is also streaming free performances from the National Theatre and some Lloyd Webber musicals. These are available for set time periods.
Many people with dementia will enjoy reminiscence and life story work. At My House of Memories you can create a ‘memory tree’ with objects, photos and videos. You could also visit the BBC Reminiscence Archive or British Film Institute (BFI) archive, which can help to spark favourite memories. Talk to the person about what they recall and enjoy.
Researching a family tree can be rewarding, and you can share it online with older children or grandchildren. Perhaps you can use this time to record the person talking about their life history using a phone or tablet. As with all reminiscence, be mindful of sad memories that the person may not want to discuss.
You can also use a tablet or mobile device to download creative and activity apps designed for people with dementia. AcToDementia is a useful independent website. Or search for:
- clevermind – has speech recognition, large buttons and fonts, games and quizzes
- Lumosity – has activities and games
- MindMate – has a TV and music section, games and a life story section
- TheColor – do colouring online and save, print or email it to friends and family
- Flower Garden – build a virtual garden by planting seeds and create flower bouquets
- Pocket Pond – feed and catch fish, and customise nature effects.
Some people will enjoy motion-based gaming systems (including Nintendo Wii and Xbox Kinect) to provide enjoyable online group activities.
If the person enjoys audio books, Amazon are offering free audio books through Audible for a limited time.
Activities in and around the home for residents with dementia
While clients are indoors, encourage them to stay active. They may be able to help with preparing food, cooking and other household tasks. Also consider different forms of exercise.
Dance & Gymnastics
If you’re new to dancing and interested in learning, The Royal Academy of Dance has created Silver Swans – a beginner’s dance class you can do online.
Love to Move is a seated gymnastics programme for people living with dementia. You can download the pack to try activities at home.
You can use a garden you could plant some seeds (indoors or out) and look forward to seeing them grow.
Even with the new rules, anyone can go outdoors to exercise. So, go for a walk together if you can or even something more active. Fresh air will help lift your spirits.
Base Activities on Interests
When you’re looking at other activities, try to make sure the person has activities based on their interests and preferences. Ideas include:
- browsing magazines
- doing jigsaws
- listening to music
- going online or using apps
- enjoying their favourite TV/radio programmes or films on DVD.
Puzzles and games that keep the mind active and engaged can be helpful, and a good distraction from the news. A routine to do these at set times can help the time pass.
You can also subscribe to Dementia together, the Alzheimer Society’s magazine packed with news, articles and features on all aspects of living with dementia.
Whatever activity you choose to do, these tips might help.
Tips for starting new activities
- Put out the things you need before starting an activity, for example, tools for gardening or ingredients for cooking. The person with dementia might like to help you with this.
- Reduce distractions such as background noise.
- Give yourself time and take things at a slower pace if you need to. And be reassuring if the person finds things difficult.