8.2. Ensuring physical and emotional well-being

As people get older they experience many changes in their daily lives, health and social status. Staying active and involved is the key for the well-being of the elderly person. It is also providing the person with a sense of purpose - their life is still worth living.

Think of yourself - how do your social activities, family life, work, sports, hobbies make you feel? Can you imagine your life without them? How would that change how you feel about your life?

It is important to offer useful activities and encourage people to participate in them as dementia progresses. Performing different activities fill the day with positive emotions, offer socialization and stimulate cognitive functioning. For that they are crucial for people living with dementia. 

Even though you might not be responsible of organizing activities you should be able to recognize their importance and encourage people to join. However, sometimes people may be reluctant. Check what is the cause of such behavior. Maybe there are other underlying health conditions - are they wearing their prescribed eyeglasses or hearing aids; are they taking their medication? Maybe the activity is not appropriated for their current skill level and make them feel confused - what could be the alternatives? Maybe they are just having a bad mood - if so, respect their rights to express their feelings and come back later. If that continues even after repeated attempts, take notice and inform other specialists. 

What useful activities could be provided?

1. Provide picture magazines and children’s books when person’s reading ability diminishes.
Because it allows continuation of usual activities that the person with dementia can still enjoy; provides focus.  

2. Provide simple activities that allow exercise of large muscles.
Because exercise groups, dance groups, and walking provide socialization as well as increased circulation and maintenance of muscle tone.  

3. Encourage group activities that are familiar and simple to perform.
Because activities such as group singing, dancing, reminiscing, and working with clay and paint all help to increase socialization and minimize feelings of alienation. 

Some of other options include playing with Lego as it stimulates cognitive functioning. An activity blanket is another option that gives work to restless hands, minimizes anxiety and negative behavior for people in the later stages of dementia. You can organize movie nights, cooking or pottery classes, do gardening, go for walks, make collages of old photos and many more. Main thing to keep in mind - the activities should not cause stress, give plenty of time and offer positive feedback.

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