For the person with dementia, activities structure the time. Activities will also enhance a person's sense of dignity and self-esteem by giving purpose and meaning to his or her life.
Planning activities should focus on:-
• the person
• the activity
• the approach
• the place
Focus on the person
Activities should be appropriate to the person and reflect his or her interests
Keep the person's skills and abilities in mind
Pay special attention to what the person enjoys
Consider if the person begins activities without direction
Be aware of physical problems
Choosing an activity
Well-planned activities can improve the quality of life for those with dementia.
• Focus on enjoyment, not achievement. It is the 'doing' that is
important, not the outcome
• Encourage involvement in daily life
• Relate to past work life
• Look for favourites
• Change activities as needed
• Consider the time of day
• Adjust activities to stages of the disease
Your approach to activities can bring meaning, purpose, joy and hope to the person's life.
• Offer support and supervision, if needed
• Concentrate on the process, not the result
• Be flexible and patient
• Be realistic and relaxed
• Help get the activity started
• Break activities into simple, easy-to-follow steps
• Assist with difficult parts of the task without making the person feel inadequate or useless
• Let the individual know he or she is needed
• Stress a sense of purpose
• Don't criticise or correct the person
• Encourage self-expression
• Don't take over
Create a supportive place for the activity
Create a safe, comfortable and supportive environment for activities
Make sure activities are safe
Change your surroundings to encourage activities
Minimise distractions that can frighten or confuse the person
Planning the day
A planned day allows you to spend less time and energy trying to figure out what to do from moment to moment. To pick activities and organise the day for the person, think about:
What activities worked best and which didn't? Why?
Were there times when there was too much going on or too little to do?
Were spontaneous activities enjoyable and easily completed?
Was the person bored or distracted? Is it time to introduce a new activity?
Example of a daily plan..
Wash, brush teeth, get dressed
Prepare and eat breakfast, do this together
Discuss the newspaper or reminisce about old photos
Take a break, have some quiet time
Prepare and eat lunch, wash dishes, do this together
Listen to music or do the crossword, a puzzle, knitting or sewing
Take a walk
Prepare and eat dinner
Play cards, watch a favourite film or give a massage. Remember that some films and many TV programmes may be confusing for people with dementia.
Take a bath, get ready for bed
You can adapt this to include gardening, visiting friends, making outings to favourite places and other activities that the person enjoys. Don't forget to involve them in day-to-day activities such as cooking, cleaning, dusting and so on if they have always done it and want to do it.
If the person with dementia enjoys music you both might enjoy our weekly Musical Memories sessions.
If the person with dementia enjoys art then come to our weekly Arts Explorations sessions.
If you need some time for yourself you might consider bringing the person in your care to our Saturday Club; you could visit our Friendship Group for carers on the second Saturday of each month.
Encourage people to do things for themselves, even if they get it wrong.