9 July 2023

Nurturing memories: activities for those living with dementia

Nurturing memories: activities for those living with dementia

In addition to aiding family members and friends in maintaining connections with individuals suffering from dementia, reminiscence therapy holds significant value as an activity for those living with this condition. Individuals with dementia often find it more accessible to access long-term memories compared to recent events that occurred just days or minutes ago. Reminiscing activities, ideally encompassing a diverse range of sensory stimuli, prove to be particularly effective in this regard. Such reminiscing activities may involve perusing old photographs, engaging in music appreciation, and participating in tactile pursuits such as pottery, painting, and arts and crafts.

Below, you’ll find a selection of reminiscing activities suitable for people living with dementia, which you can explore in a home setting with a loved one.

Tactile Memory Exercises for Dementia:

  • Initiating conversations about the past serves as a valuable starting point, offering insights into a person’s life story and past enjoyments. (Pro tip: While discussing the past, consider taking notes, as these can aid in devising mentally engaging activities).

Memory Exploration Starters:

  • What were their preferred entertainment activities when going out?
  • Inquiring about musical preferences can evoke recollections of cherished songs.
  • Who were the influential figures in their life?
  • What clothing and accessories did they favour?
  • What was their past occupation?
  • Did they have an affinity for arts and crafts?
  • Did they partake in dancing? If so, what dance styles did they relish?

Engaging Memory Exercises for Dementia:

Engaging in intellectually stimulating pursuits like reading, writing, and playing games contributes to brain health and maintains cognitive well-being. Stimulating sensory responses helps older individuals stay focused, reducing the risk of dementia.

Highlighted Brain Training Activities:

  • Visual Aids – Utilise images from your list to spark memories and initiate conversations. Categorising images can lead to various subjects for discussion. These categories might encompass Hollywood stars of their era, historical events, musicians, singers, and other icons connected to the individual’s life. Images can be compiled in a physical book or accessed digitally on a tablet or laptop.
  • Musical Engagement – Music has demonstrated effectiveness in engaging individuals with dementia. Identifying their favoured genres allows you to locate music on streaming platforms like Spotify, iTunes, and Amazon Music. YouTube can also provide visual performances by beloved artists. Singing together can enhance well-being; printing lyrics to favourite songs can prompt delightful sing-alongs.
  • Artistic Pursuits – Upon conversing with your loved one, you might discover a past enjoyment of arts and crafts. Opt for familiar craft activities, as these are more likely to rekindle their interest. Keep in mind that assistance may be necessary for re-entry into these activities, and some crafts might need simplification or adaptation based on the person’s abilities.
  • Tangible Mementos – Finding items to trigger reminiscence can be challenging, but keep an eye out for items like antique kettles, postcards, and vintage toys at thrift shops or flea markets. You may also access the person’s keepsakes to touch and discuss, offering a tactile and sensory experience.
  • Continued Engagement – Once you’ve gathered the necessary materials and insights for reminiscence sessions, maintaining regularity is key. During these sessions, the person may recall additional significant moments from their past, enabling you to expand the collection over time.
  • Caring for Dementia at Home – While maintaining mental stimulation for the older individual is crucial, it’s equally vital to ensure comprehensive care in all aspects of their life. Being a full-time caregiver can be physically and emotionally demanding. Prioritise taking breaks to care for yourself, ensuring that your loved one also receives proper care.

If additional support is required at home, consider our dependable dementia care service, designed to provide assistance for individuals living with dementia.