Tips to Enjoy Activities with a Loved One with Dementia

When engaging in activities with your loved one with dementia, things may or may not go as planned. Here are some words of advice from the book, “Care that Works” by Jitga Zgola.
  • Avoid trying to convince a person to do something they cannot do.
  • He/she must take part willingly. There is no meaning in activities that are forced on a person.
  •  Start the activity and let the person’s natural inclination take over.
  • If the person becomes stuck or loses track of the activity, let it go and start over from the point where the person seemed to know what she was doing.
  • Anticipate and help with decision points.
  • Speak slowly, but do not speak down to the person.
  • Use short, simple phrases, addressing one topic at a time.
  • Narrow the subject down by asking Yes or No questions.
  •  Make sure you give him/her your full attention on the task or conversation at hand. Your attentive energy will keep him/her focused.
  • Use physical expressions of caring, such as gentle touching or holding hands (if she/he will allow this).
  • Find or at least acknowledge meaning in everything she/he says and does.
  • Remember, this activity will not reverse the condition, but it will lift the effects of sensory deprivation, social withdrawal, and functional decline and break the cycle that leads to excess disability.
  • Be aware of your own frustration and back off whenever you start to feel the situation is futile. But do so with sensitivity, allowing the person to save face.

Tips above found on pages 80, 142, 143, 145, 146, 161, 164 of “Care that Works” by Jitga Zgola.