Carers share advice for encouraging a person with dementia to keep active and engaged.
Advice from other carers
‘My husband lost all interest in things and it was frustrating for him if I suggested anything, so I left stuff lying around for him to fidget with when he felt like it. He still wanted the newspaper but he would just turn the pages and I doubt he ever read anything. It was a much calmer atmosphere once I realised and accepted that’s all he wanted to do. He never lost interest in walking though, and we did that together for as long as he could.’
‘I have had some success with dominoes. My mum likes counting the white dots. When playing cards, she looks at them and tries to put them in order… She likes to fold the clean laundry. She also likes looking at recipe books – ones with big, colour photos of the dishes. I’ve bought quite a lot of these from our local charity shops. I also bought a musical jewellery box and filled it with cheap pieces, mainly bead necklaces. Sometimes I can hear her playing with the box.’
‘I’ve recently gotten my mum back into knitting… I have discovered she can’t follow a pattern any more so I cast on sufficient stitches and away she goes! She carries on until we decide it’s a reasonable size and then we decide what we will turn it into. The project was a blanket for her great-granddaughter’s doll’s pram. Then we did a matching pillow. Now we are doing the same but with crochet. Again, she can’t follow a pattern so we just do one stitch. It’s looking good though.’
‘My late husband refused to go anywhere without me, and didn't want anyone coming in,' says LadyA.
‘My late husband refused to go anywhere without me, and didn't want anyone coming in. However, I did get a man in two mornings a week while I went to work “to help with the garden”. My husband did accept that, and as his illness progressed, there was less pottering about in the garden, and more sitting with him, reading to him etc. The man did the heavier stuff in the garden that my husband could no longer manage, and my husband pottered about with him, digging holes! Then they would fix snacks together and lunch.’
‘How about a small box or drawer of things that can be arranged and rearranged? The contents could reflect something that the person with dementia has been interested in – things such as knitting wool, assorted buttons or coloured pencils spring to mind… If you use something like coloured pencils, you could try leaving a drawing pad or colouring book with them too. Another option could be large-piece jigsaw puzzles, if they are able and interested.’