What does one give to someone with dementia to keep them busy and occupied? What is easier enough to keep the hands active?
I have tried and seen these activities to be effective for people with dementia.
If your Mother used to knit in her younger days, then try this activity:
Give the person thick brightly coloured wool to wind into a ball. If prefer you can wind it into a ball and let them unwind it. Ribbon or cord will be just as effective as wool. If you are able to knit a sample piece and leave it on the needles, give it to the person to ‘knit’ over your work or let them pull it all off. The activity is to keep the brain stimulated and the hands busy. It doesn’t matter if the work is messy or knotty, let them have a go at it.
For men who used to work with wood, on cars or in workshops: give them a box of unsorted odd nails and screws. Let them sort it for you into 2 or 3 containers. Let them know that they are doing you a great favour and that you need this to be done for them. Men need a little more encouragement than women as they need to feel that they are not doing something silly or insignificant. If the man used to work with paints let them paint. There is ‘safe’ paint on the market. Finger paint will be a great type to use. For severe dementia persons, the small items will become dangerous as it might be a choking hazard. So for those cases, try hitting a few nails, screwing down a few hinges or bolts onto a wooden panel and let them ‘fiddle’ with all the bits while sitting at a table.
Ladies who used to sew can be given something similar like for the men with a wooden panel, but in material with the ‘fiddly’ bits sewn on them. This will keep the hands and fingers busy.
There are a few more ideas that one can adapt for an adult with dementia. Just never make the person feel like they are playing with children’s ‘toys’. Always let them feel that they are important and that they are the helping you out with every task they attempt.
This article is based on my experiences with working with the dementia people. If you don’t find any of the above listed activities helpful or if you have ideas of your own, please let me know. I am always interested to learn more.