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Activities for dementia patient - Carers UK Forum

Activities for dementia patient

For issues specific to caring for someone with dementia.
Hi! First of all thank you to everyone who gave me a lot of support recently about becoming a carer to my Dad who has just moved in to his sheltered accomodation.

My second worry now is that my Mum has dementia and is currently in a hospice but we are looking for a suitable nursing home for her.

While waiting for her move she is just stuck in a hospital bed with a TV. The nursing care is excellent but has anyone any ideas of the sort of activities I could do with Mum. I think she's bored and I would like to increase her interest in things if at all possible. Also it would help me to interact in a different way with her as well.

I would be grateful for any ideas.
At the moment the only thing that really perks her up and makes her smile are visits from her great grandchildren.

Thank you!
I can empathise about the boredom. One of the key things at my MIL's current dementia home is that they are chock full of activities - it's like a kindergarten for 'oldies'! What they seem to do is a lot of things like painting and simple craft work, so not sure if that would appeal to your mum?

What did she like doing before she developed dementia? If, say, she liked needlecraft, it might be possible to get one of those simple 'starter' kits from a craft shop? Or maybe making birthday cards or something?

Are you thinking of sitting with her and doing it, or is it something she'll need to be able to do on her own?

Something I did with MIL when I'd moved all her stuff out of her flat, was sit her down and go through all the nicknacks and especially the photos, and made quite a thing of writing on the back of it who everyone was, and when (while she still remembered - she doesn't any more alas.) Again, that was something I had to sit down with her to do. She couldn't have done it on her own.

If she has got 'fiddly', which happens quite a lot (my MIL folds up paper serviettes and tissues etc), I believe some folk here have tried things like the different textured toys that babies have, that may give her fingers something to do (otherwise my MIL can pick at her nails a lot, alas). Or just a tray filled with bits and pieces for them to pick up and sort and put down again etc.

All the best with it, and hope she can move into a specialist dementia care home soon, as they really do make a difference I feel, and keep them busy and in a routine of activity to fill up their days and give them structure and familiarity.
Depends a bit on the level of dementia, but how about jigsaws? Snappy Snaps can make jigsaws of photos which may help (grandchildren?), or specialist jigsaws for dementia sufferers also exist? This website has some other ideas. Amazon also do some very nice adult colouring books.


Sorting out photos, knitting, sorting out buttons into correct colour etc all can be useful. Do you need "help" with polishing stuff?

Good luck. It is not easy, Anne
Thank you Jenny & Annie
Some great ideas! Mum can no longer yes her left arm so she's a bit hampered but luckily she's right handed so she can still use that hand. I will invest in some textured 'toys' as she is fiddler with tissues and her bed sheets. I am very happy to sit with her and help. I was planning on putting together a bag of different activities and bringing them with me when I visit. Your ideas have spurred me on! Thank you.
Glad they gave you some ideas. Something my MIL's care home does is a sort of exercise class, in which the coach throws a soft ball back and forwards. What this is really doing is keeping the patients' hand-eye coordination working. I wonder whether a soft tennis ball sized ball would be suitable for you to do this with your mum (if she's up to it).

I suspect a key differentiator in the 'fiddling' activities is whether they are still capable of 'useful' activities - eg, if you give them a tangled ball of knitting wool, could they still wind it up neatly. Or are they just reduced to 'fiddling' without any function or purpose other than to occupy their fingers?
If the latter, my mum, and indeed other home residents, used to like pleating those thin fleecy blankets. As they frequently went walkabout, I used to buy the pet ones from the pound shop !
Hi! I bought a selection of activities for my Mum through one of the Alzheimer's sites. One activity was a pack of picture flash cards with pictures from the 50s. I used them with Mum today and she loved them. She became very animated and really enjoyed talking about the memories they brought back. I was delighted. She used up so much energy talking that she had a long nap afterwards.
Later today I was told that her diagnosis of vascular dementia has been confirmed. I am very sad but sort of relieved that there is a proper diagnosis now. I'm trying not to get too sad that I am effectively losing my Mum and hope to be able to enjoy more happy times with her. But my 'old' Mum is fading and that's hard to accept.
Good that mum enjoyed the cards, Catherine. My mum had vascular dementia too, which I don't think I ever really accepted fully. I found with vascular dementia that it plateaued (if there is such a word). She would be on an even keel for quite a long time and then dropped down one level. The only thing I can suggest is make the most of the good times, and there will be many of them.

I found quite a lot that could help my uncle. There are some Picture cards that you can use to help bring things back to mind. I was quite amazed at how it could trigger little stories.
It was much better than been ignored or shouted at. This made things feel a lot easier on the bad days.