15 Winter Activities for Seniors with Dementia
Winter activities for seniors with dementia need to take the weather into account, while also tailoring activities to maximize abilities and enjoyment. There are plenty of options to choose from, including the 15 listed below.
1. Create Favorite Holiday Dishes Together
Ideal for individuals who enjoy cooking, recreating favorite meals is a great way to bring a healthy dose of nostalgia to anyone’s day. Choose a simple, easy-to-prepare recipe that you know your relative or friend enjoys and prepare it with them in your home or their memory care community. During the wintertime, holiday dishes, including those passed down through generations, can help rekindle those important memories.
You can create a favorite dish without the risk of working with an oven or stove. No-bake cookies, decorating a cake and other activities can serve the same purpose while reducing risk.
2. Organize Collections and Household Areas
Some people with dementia gain a sense of peace and calm when they organize items. Work together to do so. For example, simple tasks such as organizing a collection of cards or dusting collectibles and organizing them in a new manner can be refreshing. If the activity becomes challenging, break things down into small steps to keep people focused on simple activities.
To make this even more rewarding, consider organizing items that will bring up positive memories. Maybe those baseball cards are your grandfather’s from when he was a child, or those recipe cards were handwritten by your mother. Organizing becomes the secondary activity, while sharing memories about those items becomes the focus.
3. Watch Family Videos
Watching family videos can also be a fun wintertime activity. Home videos can spark memories and stimulate good thoughts. However, it’s also important to not ask, “do you remember” too many times as that can become frustrating and overwhelming. Even if your relative or friend doesn’t remember, you can share videos of people from their life, helping them feel as though they’re learning about someone important to them.
4. Start a Painting (or Other Hobby)
For many people, doing something in a sedentary position is more comfortable than being active for long periods of time. Arts and crafts like painting are good options because they encourage creativity and self-expression without being physically demanding. If your family member or friend has a good amount of control over his or her fine motor skills, you could even consider crafts like pottery.
5. Work on Puzzles
Puzzles are stimulating for many people, but they can be especially beneficial as an activity for individuals with dementia because they come in various skill levels and can be completed over time, reducing stress. They encourage the mind to work to solve simple problems.
To ensure puzzles are a positive activity for those in the later stages of dementia, use puzzles with fewer, larger pieces rather than a complex puzzle. That doesn’t need to be a kid’s version – seek out puzzles that have a simpler design. Then, work on them together during the course of a day, week or month. Whenever you finish the puzzle, you and your relative or friend will both feel a sense of accomplishment.
Though memories can fade, many people retain a significant amount of knowledge despite their dementia. If a person enjoyed similar activities and topics prior to the onset of their condition, they might do well with trivia. Played with a group of people, this takes some of the pressure off one person from remembering everything.
7. Play a Favorite Board Game
Board games are a fun experience, especially when people play them together. However, it’s essential to choose the right type of game. Games that require a strong skill set, such as the use of math, may become too challenging for individuals with dementia, not to mention any children that may be participating. Games such as chess, checkers and other favorites often strike the right balance between ease and strategy. Games will be more enjoyable for your friend or family member when they have played the game previously and remember some of the key tactics used in them.
8. Incorporate Computer Games
This can be one of the best activities for seniors in the wintertime when they cannot get outside to be active. Choose one or two games to learn, and play them together. This can also be a good activity for those who like to spend time alone.
Bingo gets a bad rap as being a game for “old people,” but it can still be a lot of fun. It’s familiar, comforting and great for both adults and children. Plan an evening with a group of people to just share in the game. That time spent together will create a sense of value that any person involved can benefit from for days. For a person with dementia, bingo can be enjoyable because it does not require a lot of focus, especially when you keep it lighthearted. Increase the interest by offering some type of fun prize.
10. Choose Card Games
Card games, including old favorites like Go Fish, can be stimulating and aid in improving memory. Sometimes, activities like this that stimulate short-term memory can help keep cognitive skills working longer. Plus, games like this can help boost self-confidence.
11. Do Leg Exercises
Use a chair as a base to do simple leg exercises, including repetitive movement of the arms or legs to get the blood flowing. Chair exercises should never push a person so far that they are exhausted, but should be stimulating and energizing. Move the chair outside on milder days to get the benefits of sunshine and fresh air.
12. Go for a Walk
Is there a paved area in a local park? What about the landscaped areas of your memory care community? Most communities keep accessible, attractive outdoor areas for residents to enjoy during good weather. If your friend or relative is active or enjoys the outdoors, go for a walk when weather permits. If it’s too cold for a walk outside, considering walking around the common areas within the community. Areas with large windows can provide a great view of snow, sunsets and other outdoor scenery without making you brave the cold temperature.
13. Head to the Fitness Center
For those that enjoy physical activity, local recreation centers or the fitness center in a memory care community can be beneficial. They can allow for swimming, walking and stationary bike use inside, and many also offer fitness classes that cater to adults with different levels of mobility.
14. Move Gardening Indoors
Winter may limit gardening, but it doesn’t have to stop it. You can create an indoor garden with a number of smaller, easier to manage plants. Place them in a sunny area and encourage gardening. It’s possible to grow many plants, even edibles, in the winter months. For those in the later stages of dementia, choose plants that don’t require much care, such as succulents.
15. Seated Yoga
Yoga is an incredibly versatile activity. It can be done standing, seated or even laying down. Individuals with dementia often enjoy seated yoga, which allows them to be comfortable while doing stretches and poses that they enjoy. Every pose can be modified to fit what they can do, making this a great activity regardless of physical abilities.
Focus on Activities that are Simple and Enjoyable
Seniors with dementia may go about their day differently than other adults, but they enjoy many of the same activities. The best options for your friends or relatives with dementia are the activities they enjoyed at other points in their lives, adjusted to fit their current pace.
The activities above are a few ideas to get you started, but if you’re looking for something to do with a friend or relative with dementia, consider their interests as a good starting point. Whatever they enjoy that brings you together is a good option.
At the memory care community at The Brielle, we regularly incorporate these types of activities into our community calendar, providing customized options that maximize each resident’s abilities. If you’d like to stop by sometime to see how we use these activities to engage with community members, contact us online or by calling 929-256-3005 to set up a visit. Our team is here to help.