Activities to engage those with dementia
With dementia rising, caregivers need all the ideas they can to continue to engage their carers and stimulate their minds.
Caregivers taking care of those with dementia are often in need of activities to better engage their carers. With the number of dementia patients growing – last year, there were about 40,000 dementia patients here and this is projected to reach 53,000 by 2020, and 187,000 by 2050, any ideas could be useful.
Ageless Online speaks to KYDZ International, currently the only local company that brings in as well as produces toys and/or helping aids for those with dementia, on what are 20 activities/items they have which caregivers can consider:
1) Spices pack – This is great tool to stimulate the senses of those with dementia, from the fragrance of turmeric and the textures of the star anise. It is also a great way for them to reminisce of their past as the familiar smell of the different spices will help bring back many memories of their younger selves. Each pack comes with 14 different types of spices and each sachet is about 20gm.
2) Parachute game – This game encourages social interaction and cooperation, as well as develops coordination and encourages exercise. It is available in different sizes ranging from 2m (eight handles) to 6m (16 handles) and can be played with eight to 16 people.
Each player takes hold of two handles on the parachute and participates by doing activities such as passing balls around on top and not letting them fall off the edge. Or they can make small, medium or large movements to make various types of “waves”.
3) Jumbo playing cards – The cards are larger than the standard playing cards, and the suits and numbers are easier to read. Playing cards are a fantastic way to encourage players to maintain social interaction and communication skills, concentration, cognitive skills, dexterity and coordination. Jumbo playing cards can be used to play from a two-player card games to fun card games for three and multi-player card games allowing plenty of choices for everyone such as bluff, blackjack, and contract bridge that requires thinking.
4) Dominoes – This is a wonderful traditional game, which seniors are familiar with. Dominoes can also be used for simple matching and sorting activities for those with Alzheimer’s. These dominoes can also be used to play as a game to promote tactile visual recognition. It is an excellent opportunity to maintain social and communication skills, dexterity and coordination.
The dominoes are available in a wide range of materials and sizes from wooden to foam to textured to jumbo-sized to traditional and with pictures.
5) Musical instruments – Music is a popular activity among seniors. Music encourages interaction with one another and allows them to reminisce through music and song. The musical instruments can be sold both individually or as a set. KYDZ has a range of instruments such as maracas, castanet, tambourine, triangle, claves, rhythm-clapper, güiro, finger cymbals, wooden shaker, jingle stick and xylophone.
6) Lock box – This is a fun box with locks, bolts and latches to lock and unlock 10 different doors. It is made from wood and comes with a convenient handle. It is perfect for strengthening problem-solving, memory building, and fine motor skills and dexterity, or just for sheer enjoyment. Furthermore, this is something familiar to seniors because they get to engage in an activity that they have been doing in their everyday lives. The lock box features separate compartments with various kinds of doors, latches and hooks, that develops hand control and muscle strength, and encourages a sense of order.
7) Nuts and bolts construction set – This unique fiddle toy is usually loved by a man. This is something that makes him feel handy around the house. It gives him a familiar feeling and a sense of pride when he tinkers and builds! Any time when he is building with this set, he is strengthening his fine motor skills, problem-solving skills, and hand-eye coordination. In this set, he can recreate various colours and shapes sequences by screwing the assorted shape nuts onto the bolt in the correct colour sequence. The game is excellent for developing colour/shape awareness. The set features nuts, bolts in different colours and shapes as well as a wooden storage box.
8) Puzzles – KYDZ has a range of fun and beautiful puzzles that provide a calming and enjoyable stimulation for the seniors. Its Puzzles For Seniors are made of large pieces, which are easier to see and pick up. A puzzle activity requires no pre-planning, and at the same time, it offers opportunities for reminiscing and cognitive challenge.
9) Threading activity – This activity can be a very effective therapeutic activity for seniors. It relies on using well-learnt hand skills from the past which seniors can relate well with. Threading also promotes hand-eye coordination, fine motor, cognitive and visual perception skills. The senior can thread the laces through the holes on the various beads, blocks or boards provided.
10) Doll therapy – A doll can give someone with dementia the opportunity to take on a familiar role, which they may identify strongly with and a role which may have been rewarding to them in their earlier lives. It can also provide the chance to care for someone and to fulfil a natural maternal instinct and need. Caring for the doll is a meaningful activity, which can provide a sense of purpose.
11) Activity apron – This activity apron is great for persons with dementia. This apron has proven successful as a distraction for persons prone to disrobing. It helps to keep fidgety fingers purposefully occupied with familiar actions such as zipping a colourful zipper, opening a hook-and-loop flap, buttoning a colourful pocket, buckling a ribbon belt, and tying a large tie. There is a large terry flap as well as a flannel patch which provides tactile stimulation. Hook-and-loop closures at the neck and waist also make for easy closing and allows for quick removal by the senior.
12) Labyrinth board – A person with dementia can simply enjoy moving the knobs around the board. This type of activity helps improve dexterity, hand-eye coordination and concentration.
13) Geoform – There are 41 magnetised geometric pieces and 20 puzzle cards packed in a convenient wooden case that is easy to carry around. The senior can reproduce the designs on the included picture cards or create their own masterpieces. The wooden game pieces are magnetic, making this set ideal for travelling. It encourages seniors to brainstorm and create different figures with the shapes provided.
14) Sensorial balls – There are a wide range of tactile balls of various diameters like 6cm, 10cm, 16cm and 20cm and different textures like soft, spiky and firm that are designed to help strengthen dexterity, coordination and mobility. Through exercises and games with gentle resistance, these balls provide great opportunities to keep those with dementia active and healthy.
15) Exercise resistance band – Resistance training involves exercising muscles against an external force that provides resistance to the movement. The benefits of strength training include increased muscle, tendon and ligament strength, bone density, flexibility, tone, metabolic rate and postural support. Using elastic resistance bands help seniors regain strength. They are coloured so you know how they rank in resistance with green being light, while the red being heavy. This band will require caregiver assistance.
16) Stax stacking chair – Build a tower of wooden chairs! This activity gives the senior hours of fun and laughter, while providing opportunities for fine motor skills and tactile stimulation. Stack them upside down, right way up, sideways or hook them on – the possibilities are endless! Seniors can also colour-match the chairs to help with hand manipulation.
17) Bead coaster maze – This is a very tactile and visual tabletop activity with beads in various colours and shapes. The seniors can swoop and slide along the coaster wires. This activity provides opportunities for seniors to identify the different colours and patterns, count the shapes and sizes, and more. It also helps them to retain their manual dexterity skills and hand-eye coordination.
18) Pipe connectors – This can be a great activity for seniors. The pipes are fun and practical, and allow seniors to build all kinds of 3D structures and colourful mazes. They are ideal for visual and tactile stimulation, and helps develop motor skills and spatial awareness. It also promotes creativity in the seniors, as there are no rules.
19) Traditional games – These include marbles (or what is called goli) and five stones and it is a great way for seniors to reminisce about the good old days.
20) Floor basketball game – This light exercise activity is designed to be played while sitting. This freestanding and lightweight portable frame can be placed anywhere and is ideal for those who are unable to stand.
If interested or to check the pricing, please go to KYDZ International’s website at www.kydzedu.com.