Fall is a beautiful time of year when the air becomes crisp, and the leaves begin to change color. This is a season when loved ones want to be together and have fun!
However, when caring for a loved one who has dementia, it can be challenging to find activities to enjoy together. With this understanding, we’ve put together some information about dementia and provided a list of activities that families can enjoy with their senior loved one this season.
What is Dementia?
Dementia is a general term that applies to loss of memory, problem-solving, language, and other cognitive abilities. As it is a progressive condition, the loss is severe enough that a person’s daily life is affected. One of the most well-known forms of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease, but there are over 200 subtypes including vascular dementia, dementia with Lewy bodies, frontotemporal dementia, and mixed dementia.
Dementia is caused by damage to (or the loss) of nerve cells and connections in the brain. These changes can affect any part of the brain. For this reason, dementia affects each person differently and can cause different symptoms.
The overall outcome is a decline in cognitive ability that impairs a senior’s life and ability to make decisions and function independently. Feelings, relationships, and behaviors can also be impacted by dementia.
Why Is Memory Care Important for Seniors with Dementia?
Specialized memory care communities provide direct care focused on supporting a range of functional impairments in dementia patients. Trained, professional caregivers provide activities and programs for seniors to support cognition while addressing other needs like socialization, diet and exercise, and overall wellbeing.
If your loved one is not living in a memory care community in San Antonio, we’ve put together a list of activities family caregivers can do with their loved ones at home. These activities provide cognitive support and allow families to have fun together!
- Fall-Themed Coloring Pages
Coloring pages are a great activity that enhances memory care for seniors living with dementia. When you and your loved one color together, the activity becomes a form of social interaction. Social interaction is essential as it helps to prevent feelings of isolation.
Consider fall-themed coloring pages for you and your senior loved one to do together. You can find themed coloring books online or even free themed-coloring pages to print out. Choose a fall theme to go with this beautiful time of year.
When coloring with your loved one, talk about the family, anything related to the fall, and more. You’ll both have fun coloring, relaxing, and spending time together.
- Make Decorations Together
During the fall, you can also have fun making decorations with your loved one. Halloween and Thanksgiving are two widely celebrated holidays this time of year, and there are others to choose from, too.
Choose the holidays you and your senior celebrate and make decorations for these holidays. For instance, if you choose Thanksgiving, find craft projects for seniors that fit this holiday. You could decide to make a beautiful fall wreath that includes fall flowers or decorate a pumpkin. Making a garland of fall leaves from construction paper may also be a fun activity. Choose activities that are appropriate based on your loved one’s abilities and have a great time together!
- Work on a Fall-Themed Puzzle
Another fun fall memory care activity for seniors with dementia is jigsaw puzzles! You can find fall-themed jigsaw puzzles online or at the store. They usually feature beautiful scenes of colored leaves in the mountains or the country. Choosing puzzles that aren’t too difficult but provide enough activity to benefit your loved one is best.
The best puzzles for dementia patients contain between 100 to 500 pieces. However, if these are too challenging, you can find puzzles with fewer pieces. Puzzles are a fun way to interact with your senior loved one, and they offer other benefits too like improved concentration.
- Make Fall Treats Together!
One of the best parts of fall is making homemade treats. Your senior loved one may have once adored baking pies, cookies, and more for the holidays. While making treats like these may not be possible for them to do independently, you can consider making these delicious homemade treats together.
A few examples include making baked apples with streusel topping, a no-bake pumpkin cheesecake or cookies. Rather than mixing the cookie dough from scratch, buy the pre-made dough at the grocery store and add some toppings to create cute, decorated cookies!
Making fall treats with your loved one is a fun way to spend quality time together and provide the socialization they need as well as an activity that engages their mind and hands.
- Prepare Candy Treats for Trick-or-Treaters
Whether your loved one lives at home with you or is in a memory care facility in San Antonio, you may want to consider preparing treats for tricker-or-treaters. Intergenerational activities are not only a great way to support your loved one’s brain function, but they are also fun and engaging providing a sense of purpose as well as reducing feelings of isolation and loneliness. This is mutually beneficial for children as it helps them understand aging and how to interact with seniors.
You may consider creating individual goody bags filled with small toys and candy for this activity. Your senior loved one can work on sorting the toys and candy for each goody bag. They may also decorate the treat bags if they’re able. This is a great way to create activities that support cognition and are fun for your senior loved one. Additionally, your senior loved one will feel included in all fall festivities and holiday celebrations, too!
Fall is a beautiful season that aging seniors living with dementia can also enjoy. The activities in this article are suggestions for activities that offer stimulation and fun for those with cognitive conditions. It is also important to speak with your loved one’s physician to learn more about their changing brain and activities that can help support their needs and enhance their quality of life.
If you’d like to learn more about how to care for your elderly loved one living with dementia, contact us today or stop by for a tour of our residential care home. We’re here to support family caregivers and are happy to answer your questions.