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Unique and Immersive Activities for Elderly People with Dementia

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There are many activities that elderly people with dementia can do at home to keep their brains active and engaged, as well as have fun.

Effective activities include cooking, knitting, gardening, painting, playing an instrument, and reading – to name a few.

However, more unique activities have been proven to improve cognitive development in elderly people with dementia, including video games and virtual reality.

Managing director at Baycroft Care Homes, Stewart Mcginn, shares his expert knowledge with four examples of immersive and unique activities.

Video games

A brand new study from Samsung revealed that over a third (36%) of over 65-year-olds in the UK are gaming daily.

Unbeknown to some, video games can greatly benefit a dementia resident’s cognitive abilities. Some video games can be customised specifically to improve these cognitive abilities, such as memory and reasoning. 

There are many genres of video games for the elderly to choose from to suit their preferences, such as action games, simulation games, strategy games, sports games and puzzle games.

Many brands offer different products, such as handheld or remote-control-compatible devices. Elderly gamers can choose what they prefer and what suits their physical capabilities.

According to research from 2020, where early-stage and middle-stage dementia patients used serious video games, it was observed that they were able to improve a wide variety of cognitive abilities, including short-term memory, reaction time, problem-solving, logical reasoning, and communication.

However, Samsung’s report states that only 22% of those over 65 are playing video games to stimulate their minds, which arguably highlights the lack of knowledge surrounding how beneficial video games, and games in general, are to people with dementia.

Virtual reality

Virtual reality has been proven to help seniors with dementia with memory recall, reduce anxiety and depression through better quality of life and sense of meaning, and increase social interaction.

Virtual reality helps residents recall happy memories while distracting them from any pain they may experience, thus, reducing the need for PRN medication.

Virtual reality allows dementia residents to change scenery and engaging experiences from the comfort of their homes, which is extremely beneficial for residents with lower physical capabilities.

Interactive play

Interactive games are beneficial for stimulating more physical activity, social interaction, and mental stimulation in residents suffering from dementia.

Certain brands specialise in interactive play for the elderly, such as Tover’s Tovertafel, designed specifically for people with dementia.

The Tovertafel is mounted to the ceiling and uses infrared lights to detect hand movements. A series of interactive games are projected onto a table, and residents can play with light individually or in a larger group. 

The Tovertafel’s interactive games are proven effective for all physical, cognitive, social, and sensory levels. In fact, on Tovertafel’s games selection, there are star ratings to reflect how beneficial the games are for each need. You can see the table in action here.

Doll therapy

People with dementia, particularly in later stages, can be comfortable holding a doll or similar toys, such as stuffed animals. Such products aren’t merely used to be played with, and they are used as a form of therapy, as holding them can provide people with dementia with feelings of pleasure and relaxation.

Doll therapy can be particularly beneficial for people who are more restless and withdrawn or those who often suffer feelings of distress or anxiousness.

Doll therapy can sometimes allow people with dementia to reminisce on when they cared for young children or pets. ‘Caring’ for a stuffed animal or doll can also provide people with dementia with a sense of purpose.

Overall, doll therapy can help improve well-being, mood, energy levels and communication ability.

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