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Ways People Can Lead Self-Directed, High-Quality Lives in Different Stages of Dementia

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Learning that your loved one has Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia is heartbreaking news that changes everything. But this isn’t the time to retreat from the experiences life has to offer. Keeping your loved one active and engaged with activities they enjoy can help them have the best quality of life possible, and provide rewarding experiences for both of you.

It’s possible to find joy and purpose in everyday routines, no matter how far the symptoms of dementia have progressed. Many people living with mid- to late-stage dementia still have the drive and desire to pursue the activities and hobbies they once loved. 

Having the right support can help your loved one live a high-quality, self-directed life by keeping them engaged with you and their environment. We encourage you to explore the following list of activities for people living with dementia, put together by our experts at Autumn Leaves. 

Activities for Seniors with Mid-Stage Dementia 

Enrichment activities involving creative expression are especially useful for someone in the middle stages of dementia, but there are many other activities they can enjoy. Most seniors can continue all their favorite activities by simply changing the activity to match their abilities. 

Here are a few activities a person with mid-stage dementia can still enjoy:

Cooking. Prepare a fresh salad, build your own sandwiches, or make a special trail mix together. Give your loved one tasks like snapping beans, tearing lettuce, washing produce, or helping you clean up. This gives them the opportunity to complete a task required to enjoy a healthy meal or snack together.

Gardening. Planting flowers or tomato plants in an outdoor planter or garden is a great tactile activity for seniors in mid-stage dementia, and it gives your loved one a moderate amount of exercise. 

Reading. The benefits of reading (or listening to audio books) continue for those who have dementia, but it may become more difficult to understand and follow a complex plot and characters. Fortunately, there are some wonderful book options for people living with dementia, including “The Sandy Shoreline” by Emma Rose Sparrow, “A Day at the Park” by Jamie Stonebridge, and many others.

Water exercise. Swimming under supervision is a great activity for those in the early to middle stages of dementia. Many seniors enjoy the calming sensation of being in water. Some studies have even shown that spending time in water improves balance and reduces the risk of falls.

Walking. Going for a walk together is the perfect way to get your loved one moving, and it’s suitable for all abilities. Give them the opportunity to get social by joining a walking group.

Your loved one will have good days and bad days, and they may lose interest in activities they once enjoyed. The best support you can offer is to encourage them to stay engaged and help them deal with challenges when activities they enjoy become more difficult with dementia. 

Activities for Seniors Living with Late-Stage Dementia

In late-stage dementia, when basic tasks like brushing teeth can be a challenge, the key is to find simple and comforting activities your loved one enjoys. There is a full range of activities you can do with people living in the late stages of dementia.

Here are just a few ways you can spend time with your loved one and engage their senses:

Drumming. Simply tapping and patting to a rhythm together using a stick or spoon is a great way to make music and put a smile on your loved one’s face.

Calming touch. Massaging a person’s hands with a lightly scented cream while they listen to their favorite song is relaxing and helps you feel a close connection even when communication is difficult.

Stamping or sticker art. Pressing is a great tactile activity for seniors in the late-stage dementia. Work together to press stamps or stickers onto cardboard.

Folding. While they may not make perfect squares, your loved one will still feel a sense of comfort and confidence when they perform a daily task like folding towels, blankets or clothing. 

Wrapping. Find something like a hatbox or decorative bottle and wrap it. Not only will your loved one like picking at the paper; they’ll also delight at the small prize inside.

Keep in mind there will be satisfying moments and frustrating moments with your loved one, but as long as you remain patient and keep trying, you’ll both benefit from spending special time together. 

Finding Joy and Purpose with a Personalized Approach to Care

Research has shown that a person’s music memory can remain intact, even when they’re in mid- or late-stage dementia. Several studies have shown music improves mood, behavior and communication in seniors with dementia.

A personalized approach to dementia care targets a person’s interests with specialized programs and activities for people with dementia. This helps residents find their own joy, reignite their passions and feel a sense of accomplishment. It also encourages making healthy connections with others, even when facing communication challenges. Read another of our blog posts to learn more about communicating with your loved one as dementia progresses.

Find the Right Level of Care

Autumn Leaves, a senior living community located in Dallas, Texas, offers Independent Living, Assisted Living, Skilled Nursing, and Rehabilitation. Autumn Leaves provides compassionate care during your loved one’s early stages of dementia in Assisted Living, and for middle and late stages, our Skilled Nursing staff is ready to help. Contact us to find the right level of care for yourself or someone you love.

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