Meaningful activity and dementia


There are various activities that take place to support people living with dementia, provide them with stimulation and give some often well needed respite to their carers for a few hours.  I have been lucky to have been advised of some of the research that has been done into these activities to know which are effective and which are less valuable.


In terms of respite, if the carer gets some time off, this has value, unless their loved one comes back to their company so much worse off than they left.  So from one perspective, even poor quality care can still have some value.


For the person with dementia though, the activity and place that they spend their time needs to be effective for the experience to have value, which means that it needs to be meaningful and relevant to them.  Cognitive Stimulation Therapy is known to have benefits, so that activities that include this are wonderful for the participants.


The other kinds of day programmes that have generic value to lots of different people with different backgrounds is those that get people to participate in music.  And music of all kinds, not just very old tunes, as some places to play music for a generation that is now 90 years old, but for a 70 year old, they want to hear something very different.  Whereas a variety of music from all eras, including modern music can stimulate people, who leave those events feel happy and rejuvenated and their loved ones feel that the “old them” is back for a while!


Themed activities have been shown to be really effective for those people whom that theme is relevant for.  Locally we have a football café, hosted by the football club, for former players, referees and fans.  They discuss past matches, take part in physical activity and discuss all aspects of the sport, that they are all passionate about.  Locally, as we have a number of military bases in the city, we also have a veterans group, who are able to feel that they are back with their band of brother / sisters!  The group is fortunate to have serving members of the armed forces volunteer to attend, which I am told they thoroughly enjoy.  Serving in the armed forces is a fairly unique experience, that can be difficult to explain to civvies, yet when they get together with others who have an understanding of their experience, they can feel relaxed and again, “like their old selves”.


There are many different activities for people with dementia, what is key to the success of the event is making it meaningful for the people taking part.