Help someone with dementia feel stimulated and engaged

Are you struggling to find interesting activities for someone with dementia? Here’s some ideas which might help them feel more enthusiastic about life

Three signs the person you’re caring for is stimulated and energised

1. They enjoy getting involved with daily activities.
2. They take an active interest in getting out and about.
3. They seem happier and more confident in themselves after doing an activity.

Making sure that someone is stimulated and engaged is vital because it can help to prevent agitation, boredom and loneliness.

Spotting signs of a lack of stimulation

If someone with dementia isn’t stimulated enough, it can lead to a range of challenges which can include:

Boredom
Loneliness
Tiredness

If you spot any of these behaviours, there’s a chance that the person you’re caring for isn’t getting enough stimulation during the day. Of course, there’s a fine line between having enough to do to keep you happy and engaged, and giving you so much that you feel overwhelmed and exhausted. But there are things you can do to encourage someone to feel motivated about life.

Tips to help someone feel stimulated and energised

Activities
Ensuring that your loved one has a range of interesting activities to do each day will help them stay stimulated. Take a person-centred approach when choosing activities by picking things to do that the person may have an interest in already, such as specific puzzles, sports or games. However, don’t be afraid to try something new. They may not realise that they have an untapped ability and passion for art if they haven’t done it since they were at school.

Conversation
Sitting down for a chat with someone with dementia can be a great stimulation tool, and can also help them to feel connected and engaged. Even if their communication has deteriorated because they’re in the later stages of dementia, there are still ways to spark a chat which helps them feel stimulated.

Cognitive stimulation therapy
This combines the most effective elements of several therapies, including reminiscence therapy. It's a programme of themed activities, usually carried out over several weeks in small groups, led by a trained nurse, an occupational therapist or a carer. Each session covers a different topic and is designed to improve the mental abilities and memory of someone with dementia.

Exercise
Staying active is a great way for someone to feel energised. If the person you’re caring for isn’t as mobile as they used to be, that doesn’t mean they need to avoid all exercise. A gentle walk outdoors or even seated exercises can be good. And while it may seem contradictory, regular exercise at a level that’s suits them can actually help boost energy, and reduce tiredness during the day.

Fuel the senses
Whether it’s an interesting smell from scented dough, stroking a soft cushion or toy or listening to music, picking activities that tap into the senses can be very stimulating.