A hand massage using a little lotion with a favorite or relaxing scent is a simple way to connect and reduce tension.
Hand lotion. (An example of a complete Hand and Foot Lotion kit.)
Gently rub your loved one's hands. Be sure to be very soft in your pressure. Hand lotion can help.
Poems are a great way to engage your loved one and may help them remember stories and tales from when they were younger.
A poem or a book of poems.
With prompting, your loved one might remember a poem from long ago, or may simply enjoy hearing you recite to them.
If you are feeling particularly creative, can also recite a poem pretending you are a diffent person or using a different accent. Some people may know some poems or rhymes off the top of their heads. Others may need some resources. Ask your local librarian for assistance if you are having trouble finding a poem to share. Some suggestions include a Dr. Seuss book that they read to a child, "The Night Before Christmas," or a traditional poem that rhymes. A good example is this poem by Eugene Field:
Wynken, Blynken, and Nod one night
Sailed off in a wooden shoe —
Sailed on a river of crystal light,
Into a sea of dew.
"Where are you going, and what do you wish?
The old moon asked the three.
"We have come to fish for the herring fish
That live in this beautiful sea;
Nets of silver and gold have we!
Said Wynken, Blynken, and Nod.
The old moon laughed and sang a song,
As they rocked in the wooden shoe,
And the wind that sped them all night long
Ruffled the waves of dew.
The little stars were the herring fish
That lived in that beautiful sea —
"Now cast your nets wherever you wish —
Never afraid are we
So cried the stars to the fishermen three:
Wynken, Blynken, and Nod.
All night long their nets they threw
To the stars in the twinkling foam —
Then down from the skies came the wooden shoe,
Bringing the fishermen home;
'Twas all so pretty a sail
As if it could not be,
And some folks thought 'twas a dream they'd dreamed
Of sailing that beautiful sea —
But I shall name you the fishermen three:
Wynken and Blynken are two little eyes,
And Nod is a little head,
And the wooden shoe that sailed the skies
Is a wee one's trundle-bed.
So shut your eyes while mother sings
Of wonderful sights that be,\nAnd you shall see the beautiful things
As you rock in the misty sea,
Where the old shoe rocked the fishermen three:
Matching can be fun, and helps to engage your loved one in a mental activity.
Have your loved one match the different patterns or colors of fabric. Make piles out of each kind of fabric.
You can create your own matching game or purchase an already made one. If your loved one enjoys sewing and can still do some stitching, you can make the pieces yourself or have him or her help. For those who cannot sew, fabric choice and pattern tracing is a great way to help.
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.
Magazines and books are a great outside source of entertainment.
A book, magazine, or audiobook.
Either read a book or magazine aloud to your loved one, or let them flip through one on their own. If your loved one doesn't mind headphones, an audiobook, either on a smartphone or tablet, might be perfect. You can get audiobooks free from your local library or from Audible by Amazon when you purchase an Audible Membership.
Clay can keep people busy and give their hands something to do.
Clay or Dough
You can suggest simple objects such as a bowl or a face for your loved one to make, or encourage him or her to be creative. You can also select something in the room to copy as a model.
Small crossword puzzle books can keep everyone entertained. Large print ones might be easier.
Large Print Crossword Puzzles
Memory boxes can be a great way to link a person to what they love from their past, helping to restore a person's identity. Some reasons memory boxes are useful:
Help your loved one create a box of memories they can enjoy on a regular basis. When you search for keepsakes, you may find special items you did not realize the senior still had. You can put anything you like in a memory box. If your loved one is able, it is encouraged that he or she participates in the selection of items. You can use any style of box and even make an additional project out of decorating it.
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.
Putting something familiar or meaningful in the hands of someone with dementia can provide a great deal of comfort and help soothe restless energy.
Pick objects that are sentimental to your loved one. Have them hold the object, and describe to you what it means to them or why it's important.