A recent article from the Dementia Services Development Centre caught my eye and made me think about how we spend our time. I was particularly taken with its emphasis on meaningful activities for someone with dementia and have copied an extract below:
‘There has been a growing awareness in the UK of the important role of meaningful activity when supporting someone living with dementia, but the efforts to address the need for meaningful activity often slide into time filling activity rather than activity that helps the individual to connect to themselves, their connections and the larger world around them.
So how do we tell a meaningless activity from an activity that meets a need for someone? There are three basic questions to ask of a planned activity:
1. How does the process of the activity and being involved make the participant feel? Well-designed meaningful activities produce feelings of well-being, accomplishment, or connectedness.
2. How does the activity help the participant to stay connected with the person they have always been? Maintaining connections with past interests, networks and roles is especially important as someone living with more advanced dementia may struggle to maintain that sense of connection with their past that most of us take for granted.
3. How does the activity help the participant to feel like they have something to contribute? Not all activity has to be about contributing to the greater good, but feeling as though your efforts matter to someone else is what helps most of us get out of bed in the morning’.
The article has made me think about activities that have fallen by the wayside here and could be resurrected to good effect:
- Solving crosswords together
- Moving our dancing sessions from the kitchen to the lounge and further
- Attending meditation classes together
- Shopping expeditions to find Maureen suitable clothing
- Swimming at the local Leisure Centre
- Returning to Short Mat Bowls
- Travelling to meet family and friends together
- Exploring opportunities for joint voluntary work
- Discussing the possibilities of short breaks and Winter Holidays
Drawing up lists is easy: making activities meaningful is the challenge!