A great activity to do together is to start a fish tank. It has been suggested that just watching fish in their habitat, their movements and their interactions with other fish can be a stress relieving and entertaining.
Allow the care recipient to make the decorative decisions with regards to what color rocks you will choose, what figurines you may put in the tank and what type of fish you would like to have. Selection of a fish bowl can be modified to a fish bowl to fit your budget. There are also mechanical fish for sale that are battery operated to swim about the tank (however, read reviews before you buy).
Sorting is a simple activity that can be done with a variety of materials. The person you care for can do this activity independently if they are not at risk of choking, and it can be done over and over again.
Sorting objects can include:
Ask your loved one to sort buttons, coins, silverware etc. You can ask them to sort by color, size, shape.
Like most Montessori activities, this is self-correcting so there is minimal need for the caregiver to be involved in the activity. Perfect to keep you loved one occupied if you need a moment of time to regroup.
Create a nut and bolt kit by supergluing bolts in place on a wooden board and place the nuts in a container next to the activity. The participant chooses from the container and guesses which ones fit until all nuts are on the correct bolt.
Many people grew up learning different skills using their hands. Skills could include woodworking, carpentry, crocheting, knitting, model building, and even daily chores. Manipulating every day objects like opening a door with a key takes them back to a more independent time.
Hardware, Locks, or other objects that can be disassembled and reassembled fairly easily.
If your care recipient appears restless, agitated or idle for long periods of time, try providing him or her with familiar hardware or objects that they can hold in their hands and manipulate. If you don't already have some supplies at home you can go to the local hardware store and pick up a variety of useful objects. The objective is to choose pieces that can be disassembled and reassembled fairly easily. Locks or PVC piping or another material that they worked with in their youth could work.
Can You Fix It? is an activity in which you ask your care recipient for some help repairing or restoring an item. The item could need to be reassembled or simply need batteries, but the focus is on asking the care recipient for help. You set a person up for success with this activity by knowing about their current abilities with regards to vision, dexterity and the ability to manipulate or manage tools.
Something that needs to be "fixed."
Ask your loved one if they can fix an item for you. Some individuals may need step by step directions or pictures to demonstrate the process. Be sure to make any necessary accommodations to the project so that they can participate on a level that matches their capacity.
Having a person with dementia work with buttoning and unbuttoning, zipping and unzipping, serves a number of meaningful goals. This activity aids maintaining fine motor skills, and it provides a sense of accomplishment. If a person can successfully button and unbutton, he or she can potentially put on their shirt independently.
Backpack with lots of zippers. and latches would be ideal.
A shirt for buttons.
Practice zipping and buttoning with your loved one.
Building and construction is an activity that most men have experience with. You can be creative with the track you create and where it would be best used. You can even create surrounding scenery with your loved one. Trains often provide a sense of nostalgia for those who may have used them as a young child. This is also an activity that engineers or mechanics may particularly enjoy.
Going to a museum is a great way to entertain a loved one that requires minimal effort on the part of the caregiver with the exception of travel. There are many different types of museums so whether it is art, history or a specific exhibit your loved one is interested in, there is much to explore.
Inquire about what your loved one is seeing or experiencing. Ask them what they like about the piece or to describe it to you.\nSome museums offer dementia-specific days where the collection and presentation is designed to accommodate those with memory care concerns. Check your local resources to find out if a museum near you offers this type of program. Local calendars such as this New England calendar, are available online.
If you are caring for someone who is a fishing enthusiast, setting up a tackle box can be a meaningful and fun activity. Depending on a person's stage of the illness it may be best not to include hooks or sharp objects in the box. However, plenty can still be done with colorful lures (hooks removed), bobbers, rubber fish, fishing line and sinkers.
Tackle Box or 2 Tray Tackle Box
Have your loved one organize the box by putting each item in separate compartments. Talk about the different types of fishing and what fish are found during what season and in what regions.
Choose a movie to watch together and set up the space with a special movie atmosphere.