Raising Awareness About Dementia
It is so important to bring awareness to dementia related diseases because there is not yet a cure, but early diagnosis can help improve the life of people with dementia and their families. Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia, being the 6th leading cause of death in United States. Although it is true that memory loss can happen more frequently as we age, according to the Alzheimer’s Association, those with dementia show significant impairment of two of the below items.
- Communication and language
- Ability to focus and pay attention
- Reasoning and judgment
- Visual perception
Dementia related diseases like Alzheimer’s alter the communication between brain cells causing mental, emotional, physical and behavioral changes. This is much more than just forgetting things as we age. It is important to monitor aging loved ones for changes in their behavior and bring them to see a doctor early on, since most cases of dementia start slowly and progress.
Dementia Awareness Week is the 3rd week in May.
We have seen a growing need for some of our products in the area of care for people with dementia. There are many articles and studies linking the Montessori Method of teaching to increasing the quality of life in those with Alzheimer’s or like diseases. Introducing new activities that build upon the interests and capabilities of the individual will engage them, creating positive experiences.
With more and more nursing facilities caring for residents with dementia, it is crucial to provide fun activities for those residents that also meet their individual needs. Planning activities that provide sensory stimulation can assist residents with their memories, decrease restlessness, and help improve their overall quality of life. Here are a few sensory stimulation ideas from notjustbingo to encourage your volunteers to try out with your residents during their one-on-one visits.
Sensory Activities to Help With Dementia
Address the fidgety nature of your residents with activities that keep their hands occupied. Provide residents with fun activities like sensory activity pads or an activity pillow that residents can easily have with them, whether they are in their room or in the Activity Room around others. The different lacing and zipping activities allow residents to keep their hands moving. In addition, use a soothing pat mat that can be filled with warm water, to keep active hands engaged. The pat mat is a fun activity that allows residents to press and move objects in the water.
If your facility does not allow house pets, then provide a few faux animals that can provide the same type of comfort to your residents without the mess. For instance, the Joy For All™ golden puppy and plush cat both breathe and feel like real pets. Host a Dog or Cat Petting Session to introduce residents to the animals and allow them to experience the soothing purrs and fun puppy sounds. Keep them in your common area and encourage residents to stop by during the day to visit and pet them. During the more quiet times at your facility, you can provide a sleeping tabby cat or sleeping beagle for them to cuddle with.
If you have residents who would like to have their own animal, consider using a cat muff that the residents can keep on their arm and take with them to pet throughout the day.
Help capture the memories of your residents with a memory book that allows you to record familiar messages, like a loved one’s greeting or a familiar song. Tailor the book to fit the individual needs of your resident so that they can be comforted even when activity staff are not in the building.
In addition, collect photos and mementos from family members to place throughout your resident’s room to help stimulate their memories. Encourage residents to assist you with framing their photos and placing their mementos in a memento box that can be kept close by.
Finally, improve the hand-eye coordination of your residents with fun games. For example, test your resident’s coordination skills by using a magnetic maze in which your resident can guide the balls through the maze using the magnetic wand. In addition, use a reminiscing ball as a fun ball-tossing game that gets your resident moving, while also allowing them to reminisce.
More resources for Dementia Awareness Week:
- Sensory Stimulation Activities for Senior Residents
- 12 Sensory Activities for Residents with Dementia
notjustbingo.com is an online resource of fun, senior activity ideas for activity professionals of nursing homes and assisted living facilities. They have been providing fun activity ideas online since 2009, and we continue to assist activity professionals across the country by creating meaningful and engaging activity ideas for their residents that go “beyond bingo.” Don’t get them wrong – bingo is fun, but we want to spread the word that there is more to life than just bingo. Overall, notjustbingo.com feels privilege to help activity directors better the living experiences of their residents while demonstrating that a senior’s quality of life can actually improve when they move to a nursing facility.