3 Smart Ways to Empower People Living with Dementia Through Activities

3 Smart Ways to Empower People Living with Dementia Through Activities post page


By Valerie FeurichMay 21st, 2019

3 Smart Ways to Empower People Living with Dementia Through Activities


Planning regular activities is challenging work. And creating truly meaningful activities for your loved one with dementia can be an increasingly difficult task. As fine-motor skills weaken and language slows, finding ways to connect can be a struggle.

Would you like to create truly engaging activities, but you’re not sure how?

Would you like to utilize projects to strengthen the bond between you and your loved one, but aren’t sure how to create the connection with them?

Here are Three Pieces to Consider:

1. A Person’s History is Key

What profession did your loved one choose?

Which roles did they have, and how can we preserve or re-imagine some of that?

Is he or she an extrovert or an introvert?

What were his or her hobbies before dementia?

All of these details need to be considered for determining which activities your loved one might enjoy.

While an extrovert is likely to enjoy group activities like Bingo, your introvert would probably much rather do something on their own like solve puzzles or organize coins (a great activity for former accountants).

Adapting the activity to your loved one’s natural disposition and likes is as important as the activity itself.

2. All People Need to be Needed

Dementia robs people of the roles and responsibilities that help define who they are. But the need to be needed, the desire for a purpose and wanting to contribute remains even into the later states.

Used correctly, activities can give a person just that.

A simple "Claire, you are so good at organizing. I could really use your help with this. Do you think you could sort these cards for me? It would make such a difference" can go a long way to making a person feel valued and appreciated. Ending with a genuine "Thank you so much for your help. I couldn’t have done it without you" will not only boost Claire’s sense of self-worth, but strengthens the bond between both of you.

3. GEMS® Level Matters

Teepa Snow’s GEMS classification model compares people and their changing abilities to the characteristics of gemstones, which with the right setting and care, can all shine.

What really separates the GEMS model apart from other classification models, is that it focuses on what a person is still able to do, where they will need support, and not simply what they have lost.

When creating activities, be careful not to include tasks that are beyond their capabilities without support from you. Not being able to complete an exercise could leave your loved one feeling bad about themselves. Instead, pick an activity that utilizes your loved one’s remaining skills and makes them shine like the jewel they are.

Want to find even more ways to enrich the lives of people living with dementia?

Do you work in a senior care setting and would love to know how to create engaging activities that will have your residents thriving and their families raving about your work?


Consider becoming a
Positive Approach to Care (PAC)
Certified Engagement Leader!

Join us on June 27th, 2019, in Boston, MA, and gain the necessary skills and knowledge to build a Living Well with Dementia support system in your community!

2 Comments on “3 Smart Ways to Empower People Living with Dementia Through Activities”

  1. Avatar

    I love your approach to our loved ones with Dementia. You have inspired me so much with my husband. Thanks so much.

    Jerri Manale
    Baton Rouge, Louisiana

  2. Avatar

    It’s so nice to have a place to run to when I am at a loss over a situation with my mom. The need to understand what I may have done better or just the input from another angle is so uplifting. Thank you for helping me to understand what she is going through!

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