If you have been diagnosed with dementia, this Help
Sheet may be useful. It discusses the importance of keeping
involved and active and suggests ways that you can do
As people get older, activities they once enjoyed may change.
The hobbies and interests you had when you were in your twenties
and thirties may be quite different to ones that you enjoy now.
Retirement can also be a time when new hobbies or pastimes are
taken up, or old interests rekindled.
Experiencing changes with memory loss and dementia can also mean changes in the activities you take part in. If you have trouble remembering or expressing yourself, your confidence may be down a little. You may feel embarrassed about memory loss or not being able to do things as well as you used to.
Making activities easier
However, keeping involved and active in the things you enjoy is
extremely important. Rather than giving up activities that are
becoming difficult, it may be possible to modify the activity. For
example, one man was having trouble keeping his golf score. He felt
embarrassed and thought about stopping playing altogether, but he
decided to modify things by asking his partner to keep the score.
Sometimes he decided not to keep the score at all. These changes
meant that he was able to keep on playing the game he loved.
Breaking an activity down into smaller parts may also help. Even if you can't manage all the steps, you may be able to take part in some of them. For example, if you are having trouble preparing a meal, rather than completely stopping, you may be able to do some parts of it, such as peeling the vegetables, setting the table or serving up the meal. It often helps to talk to others - they may be able to help you work out how to keep doing things.
Physical activity is important for maintaining fitness and
keeping muscles and joints flexible. Physical activity triggers
'feel good' chemicals in the body, which can help reduce depression
and anxiety. Physical activities might include walking, gardening,
mowing the lawn, golf, bowls, tennis, exercise classes, stretching
exercises at home, yoga or tai chi.
Many people find it helpful to keep their mind stimulated by
keeping active the parts of the brain that are functioning well.
Mental activities that people enjoy include doing crosswords,
playing scrabble, reading, doing jigsaw puzzles, arithmetic
exercises or games. Keeping involved in activities around the house
as much as possible can also be a way to keep the mind
Many people find creative hobbies very enjoyable. This might
include knitting, embroidery, woodwork, sewing, painting, drawing,
playing a musical instrument or simply listening to music.
Again, if you are having trouble with something you enjoy, rather than giving up completely, it may be possible to simplify it. For example, if you enjoy knitting, it may be possible to continue using less complex patterns than you have been used to. Sometimes a family member or friend may be able to help with an activity, perhaps helping to get you started so that you can continue on your own. Or they may be able to help you throughout, so that you both enjoy the activity together.
Some people have enjoyed social activity throughout their lives,
and others have preferred to be 'home bodies' and have not sought
out social interactions. If you enjoy social contact it is
important to keep this up as much as possible.
Social activity might include involvement in various clubs and organisations, over 50s or senior citizens clubs. Visits to friends, card or coffee groups, or spending time with family may also be rewarding.
Some people with dementia find that being among large groups of people can be overwhelming. Too much noise or activity can create anxiety or confusion. It may be that you should aim to be with one or two other people to continue gaining pleasure from social gatherings, rather than being with a large group of people.
Jersey Alzheimer's Association runs a Saturday
Club at the Poplars Day Centre every week for people
in all stages of dementia. There are many activities on offer and a
three-course lunch and transport is provided. Phone Pat on 07829
700 099 for more information.
Spirituality can mean more than religion or church. It can
relate to anything that gives meaning or peace to our lives.
For many people their spiritual faith is an important strength in dealing with dementia. Maintaining religious involvement may be helpful. If you find going to your place of worship overwhelming, a representative may be able to visit you at home, or there may be a quieter time you could choose.
For some people a sense of spirituality may be gained from meditation, appreciating art, enjoying a sunset, walking along the beach, or spending time with family. It is very important to keep enjoying anything that gives meaning to your life or provides a sense of pleasure or peace.
A sense of humour
Keep laughing. Sharing your sense of humour is an excellent way
of releasing tension as well as giving and contributing in everyday
It often helps to talk to others - they may be able to help you work out how to keep doing things.