Meaningful activities to engage with at home

1. Gardening 

Getting green-fingered can be a great way to alleviate stress, boredom and anxiety. Taking part in a physical activity like gardening can stimulate the senses and memory, and greatly improve well-being.

Gardening is a fantastic multi-sensory activity with smells and sights everywhere, whether you're pottering about, sowing and planting seeds or just sitting and enjoying the fresh air, the garden often has something to suit every interest. 

If you are fortunate to have an outside space, be it a garden, balcony or terrace, do make the most of it, the other benefit is Vitamin D absorption, sitting in the sun is a great way to top up your Vitamin D levels, vital to a robust immune system. 

2. Jigsaw Puzzles 

Puzzles are a great source of fun, fitting the pieces together takes a degree of manual dexterity and the act of deciding what goes where involves some pretty advanced cognitive processing power. 

Research has shown that mentally challenging activities such as doing a jigsaw puzzle stimulates thinking and memory, which increases feelings of well-being, helps improve communication and interaction.

For someone living with dementia, completing a jigsaw puzzle can give them the ‘feel-good’ effect, which is caused by the production of dopamine in the brain, leaving them feeling happy having enjoyed their time completing the puzzle.

Doing a jigsaw puzzle works both sides of the brain simultaneously and allows it to move from the Beta state (the wakeful mind) into the Alpha state, which is the same state experienced when dreaming.

There are jigsaw puzzles especially designed for people with dementia, which contain less pieces, so they’re easier to complete and also feature images to stimulate reminiscence.

See Active Minds 

3. Music

The power of music, especially singing, to unlock memories and kickstart the grey matter is an increasingly key feature of dementia care. It seems to reach parts of the damaged brain in ways other forms of communication cannot.

Music has proved itself to be incredibly therapeutic, especially benefitting people living with Dementia, Music transcends language and engages the long term memory as music plays a huge part in all of our lives, with many of us attributing songs to a time in our lives, a specific memory or place - the power of music is truly magical! 

'We know that the auditory system of the brain is the first to fully function at 16 weeks, which means that you are musically receptive long before anything else. So it’s a case of first in, last out when it comes to a dementia-type breakdown of memory.' - Professor Paul Robertson, a concert violinist and academic who has made a study of music in dementia care.

4. Baking

There is something inherently sweet about baking that goes beyond the reward of a tasty treat. The sensation of flour in the hands and the uplifting smell of freshly baked biscuits engages the senses in a way that can be particularly beneficial for those living with Dementia.

Interest in eating can diminish in those who have dementia. Baking, however, has proven to be an effective way to bolster relationships with food. 

Benefits often include:

  • Promotion of a sense of self and purpose
  • Reduced stress and irritability
  • Maintenance of dignity and self-worth
  • Contributing towards positive feelings such as joy and passion

5. Standing or seated Exercise 

Keeping fit and active is crucial to maintaining and improving mobility, over the last year this has been a challenge for many, restricting our ability to move freely outside has been disruptive to activities of daily life. 

If you are unsure of what to do, there are countless videos on YouTube of fitness classes, with something to cater for all ages and abilities. Movement can have profound benefits, from improving circulation to reducing chance of falls to an overall improved sense of wellbeing.