Dementia patients are more prevalent to becoming bored, particularly if they have other illnesses or mobility issues which may leave them housebound and as communication skills diminish as the disease progresses. Behaviours which suggest the dementia patient may be bored include restlessness, wandering, difficult behaviours associated with dementia, ‘sundowning’, anxiety and so on. If a dementia patient is left, without social engagement and something stimulating to do, this can exacerbate their symptoms as well as contribute to them feeling more isolated and disconnected. This can lead to a never ending spiral and could result in the patient becoming locked in, or unable or uninterested in communication and socialising.
How to avoid boredom
As an individual’s dementia advances, it becomes apparent that there are skills that the dementia patient can no longer carry out or that they struggle to complete. As they become less independent and more reliant on support to help them achieve tasks the risk or boredom increase. There are many activities that dementia patients can still take part in and feel themselves again. Focus on what it is that they enjoy, possibly activities that they used to carry out or things that they are interested in.
It is important that whenever people come to see the patient, or if family gathers, it is important to include the dementia patient, either in the conversation or the activity that is taking place. There are sensory activities which involve taking part in sessions such as making music or listening to music that may link to their past or hold a special meaning for them. They could take part in art and painting, including art kits which don’t actually use paint, but by running a wet brush over a picture, it will activate a colour and replicate a picture painting.
They might also have had a love of dancing but can no longer stand for very long, allow them to participate in the activity by just watching will still capture their imagination and stir some memories. They can still enjoy moving along, or watching others enjoy the activity.
It is also important to encourage communication whether verbal or non, particularly as the disease progresses, this will also help to reduce the risk of loneliness.
Introducing them to new exercises
Remember that patients have good and bad days, so they may not always want to get involved in the process and try to be as accommodating as you can. Be prepared that it might not work and look for clues if they are getting tired or even overwhelmed.
Anxiety and dementia care
Finally, individuals in dementia care frequently think that it’s valuable to think back about the past. Assist them with the trip by having talking about those memories, use photos, music, films, smells, sounds or food to bring the events and past to life.
Read more about ideas to calm a dementia patient in our blog here.