Guest Post Author: Ben Atkinson-Willes | Active Minds
Globally, the numbers of people living with dementia are predicted to increase from 50 million in 2017 to over 125 million in 2050. Activities such as painting have been proven to help people reconnect with their surroundings and can reduce isolation and depression, but why not try taking part in these activities with your loved one? There is a huge benefit from spending quality time with those living with dementia.
42% of people falsely believe that after someone with dementia stops recognizing individuals, then there is no advantage when it comes to making visits. But 64% of those with dementia felt isolated from friends and family once they were diagnosed. As you can see, it is vital for people to understand how important it is to spend quality time with those living with dementia, for both them and you.
Maintaining your connection with someone with dementia will benefit them hugely and help build their confidence and self-esteem.
There are various activities that you can both enjoy such as gentle walks or read newspapers together, but just being in their company may be all that is required.
It’s true that as dementia progresses, a person may start to find it difficult to recognize people close to them, but this does not mean that they won’t hugely benefit from spending regular time with you. They still hold an emotional memory which means that they will still experience feelings of comfort and happiness when you visit, and for a while after, even if they may not recognize you.
However, it is understandable that for some, communication with a person with dementia can seem daunting. Here are some tips:
- Make sure to include them in conversations and try to stay away from finishing their sentences or speaking for them.
- Listen to what they are saying, be sure to give them enough time to think and try to make a relaxing environment by limiting distractions like background noise.
- Be mindful of personal space and do not stand too close as this can feel intimidating.
- For those who find verbal communication tricky, talk clearly, slowly and use short, simple words and sentences. It is also a good idea to make sure you are conscious of eye contact and the tone you are using when speaking.
- It is also important to be aware of non-verbal communication, as they may notice gestures and expressions. Try to avoid sudden movements or tense facial expressions as this could cause distress.
Keeping someone busy and engaged who has dementia will slowly become harder as their dementia progresses. However, carers, friends, and family can encourage a person with dementia to feel included and valued by participating in regular activities.
Active Minds have recently launched seasonally themed, and easy-to-do activity guides that people living with dementia, family, and carers can all participate in. These activities focus on spending quality time with your loved one, as well as including elements or materials that will encourage reminiscence, proven to help engage and uplift a person living with dementia.
You can download the free Spring Active Minds activity guide here.
About the Author
Ben Atkinson-Willes’ drive was born out of the experience of caring for his Grandfather who lived with dementia for 16 years. Ben and his family found it challenging to find things to keep his Grandfather occupied, they were often forced to use children’s toys which were extremely patronizing.
This inspired Ben to create Active Minds, a successful business designing activities for those with dementia.