If your loved one enjoys spending time at the Me2U Centre, but only gets to spend one or two days a week with us, there are lots of things you can do in the meantime to ensure they are getting the stimulation and entertainment they deserve at home.
Perhaps you’re not craft-minded and you have no idea where to begin, but the great news is it’s not hard to incorporate these activities into a daily routine.
1. Make paper flowers
A fantastic idea from this blog is to create paper flowers. Paper flowers are a beloved pastime for everyone, from art aficionados to primary school children. With minimal effort, you quickly get some fantastic results! The example, this Alzheimer’s Society article shows some fantastic cardboard templates, using glue to add on stamens to the petals and green stems to the flowerhead. But to make it even easier, you can buy tissue paper in assorted colours, cut out contrasting squares and circles, overlap them, fold them into quarters, twist them at the bottom and stick them into paper straws or wrap them in a sheet of thin card or thick paper to make a bouquet.
2. Use colouring books
Another great activity that has become increasingly popular over the last couple of years is colouring for adults. People report feelings of calm and mindfulness while simply colouring between the lines on a pre-drawn picture.
This activity is also enjoyable for people with dementia, so why not invest in some colouring books and coloured pencils to while away an hour or so in the afternoon?
3. Guided painting
Some art therapists use painting as part of reminiscence activities. They encourage the student to look at a picture of a beautiful scene of a landscape or the sea and ask them for a description or any memories associated with the image.
Then, using paint and paper, the person with dementia is encouraged to paint their own scene with the helping hand of the therapist.
This lost art had made something of a comeback in recent years, but most of us have grandmothers who were experts at this!
According to Adele Lacy, who set up a group in 2014 called Knit2gether, knitting is an automatic skill that never goes. While it may be hard for people with dementia to learn a new skill from scratch, skills learnt during childhood that use procedural memory can be retained and tapped into.
Using easy patterns, it is a great idea to include knitting during home time activities. If you know how to knit and your loved one was once a fan of knitting, why not spend time revisiting this old hobby?
5. Make a memory book using card and craft materials
Art can be incorporated into reminiscence activities. Creating a memory scrapbook with different-coloured card, scrapbook paper, glue and photographs and any other craft supplies you want to include not only helps stimulate muscles and cognition, but it also gives people a chance to look at revisiting happy times again and again.
This blog post shows an example of how a dementia memory book could look.
6. Collage creations
As an alternative to making a memory book or painting a landscape, you might encourage your loved one to create a scene using collage materials such as scraps of paper, pictures from magazine and paper flowers from activity one.
Using one or a combination of these activities at home ensures that the person you are caring for feels a sense of achievement, purpose and pride. As well as keeping them stimulated, they are waking up lots of motor functions and revisiting old memories at the same time, and it can create some calm and enjoyment in your own day.