We’ve talked about how encouraging residents to participate as much as possible in their own care can help maintain or even increase function and decrease negative behaviors. Let’s remember that residents with moderate to severe dementia can have fun too!
How often do we see a group of residents participating in a recreational activity, but notice that at least a few of them are left out? Sitting in the corner looking on? Often, these more “challenging” residents are the people who most need to be active and engaged in activity so they avoid feelings of frustration, agitation, and boredom.
To help with this, here are some activity ideas that your nurses, nursing assistants and recreation staff can use to get residents with cognitive decline in on the fun:
- Flyswatter volleyball: Give residents plastic flyswatters have them hit a balloon back and forth to each other
- Dance, dance, dance! Turn off those televisions and turn on some music and dance. Have staff members take turns playing music from their iPods through a speaker. Fast or slow, old or new, music has the power to move everyone.
- Horseshoes: Now that summer is here, horseshoe games are everywhere. Look for the foam kind and play inside or outside on a patio. Residents can play while standing or sitting.
- Foam swim noodles: Get a bunch of these, cut them in half, and start bending. These make for great resistance exercises! Leave them out in common areas for a safe, easy way to start spontaneous exercise.
- Movement scarves: These can be found on enasco.com, or you can make your own with a lightweight material. Toss these colorful scarves in the air and have residents try to catch them. These scarves can be better than throwing a ball back and forth since people with slower reflexes and limited hand flexibility can catch them more easily.
- Chores! Yes, chores. Your kids might not agree, but for older adults with dementia, doing familiar household chores can be calming and comforting. Grab a basket of cloth napkins and ask them to help you by folding them. Give them a broom and ask them to help you sweep the floor since company will be coming. Get some pillowcases or old clothes, hang a clothesline between a few walls, and give them some clothespins. They can hang the laundry.
- Don’t forget to go outside! Warmer days are here now, so in the morning or early evenings when it’s a bit cooler, go outside. The sunshine, change of scenery and fresh air is something we all need. Look at the flowers, look for birds, and have some lemonade.