Every CNA who works in a long-term facility knows there are days when your patients with dementia need to be distracted or engaged in something new. There are also times when a patient withdraws and refuses to participate. Helping people do activities that are interesting and meaningful--not just busy-work--can make everyone’s day satisfying.
As the primary direct caregiver, you may know your patients better than other team members. You may also have the chance to talk to their family and learn about the patient’s interests and hobbies prior to dementia. When you gain an understanding of the past, you can have a few tricks up your sleeve!
Here are six ideas for things to do with your dementia patients. You may need to demonstrate to get them started, but once patients recognize the activity, they can “work” for a long time, completely content.
1. Color: Adult coloring books are the #1 sellers on Amazon.com right now! Coloring causes people to focus and relax. Everyone grew up with coloring books--sitting quietly with crayons or pencils and a coloring book can be therapeutic.
2. Coupon clipping: This may work better with females, who spent years pinching pennies while feeding their families. Ask staff to bring in their Sunday or weekly flyers, give patients some blunt scissors and watch them go.
3. Newspapers: Today’s patients grew up reading a daily newspaper. The action of turning pages and reading the articles will keep patients occupied for a long time. Collect a stack of newspapers. Both males and females enjoy this.
4. Word games: If the patient enjoyed games such as crossword puzzles or word-search games, try giving him or her a puzzle book and pencil. The results may not be great, but the engagement in a favorite activity? Priceless!
5. Cleaning or gardening: Give the patient a dusting rag and an assignment. Ask the patient to water plants or to weed a patch. These skills are satisfying and useful. People want to help and see results, even in dementia.
6. Holiday decorations: Make paper chains in holiday colors! String popcorn, color pictures of spring tulips or autumn leaves--and hang them up. Then take them down.
There are endless ideas for your patients. Get together with your team members and build a supply of things for people to do when they are restless, agitated, or bored. When the occasion presents itself, you will be able to occupy your patients in a meaningful way. Everyone’s day will be happy and productive!
Try reviewing the course material on dementia and sundowners syndrome from our course library.
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