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Are you running out of ways to keep the person you love busy and entertained? Here’s some simple ideas that could help you keep boredom at bay

Boredom can be difficult to cope with, so how can you help a loved one with dementia to feel  useful and fulfilled, particularly if former hobbies have become too tricky to manage? Read on and find out

Why keeping busy is good for the brain

Everyone likes to be busy, and people with dementia are no different. Without enough to do, they can become depressed, lonely and start behaving in a distressing way. But there are many things you can do to bring back their enthusiasm and zest for life.

1. Play a game

Puzzles and games can be very absorbing. Pick puzzles that have an interesting picture and are made from strong, durable materials (plastic rather than cardboard). Games such as dominoes and bingo or rolling dice games can also be great fun.

Puzzles exercise both sides of the brain simultaneously, allowing the brain to move from what’s known as the Beta state (the wakeful mind) into an Alpha state, which is the same mental state you experience when you’re dreaming. This means that puzzles can have a meditative and therapeutic effect on the brain. This, in turn, has an effect on general health, lowering breathing rate, slowing the heart rate and reducing blood pressure. All of this is particularly beneficial to a person with dementia especially if they’re feeling restless or agitated. Completing puzzles requires their full concentration and so provides a focus for excess energy.

Tip: Take a look at these lovely jigsaws for more inspiration

2. Be creative

They may never have been an ‘arty’ person, but don’t let that put you off trying some simple art and craft activities with the person you care about. Art projects have many benefits for people with dementia, they can also re-store dignity, ease anxiety and foster a sense of control which helps them to feel calmer and happier.

Did you know?
Research suggests that artistic ability is often preserved in spite of the degeneration of the brain and the loss of day to day memory.

3. Accentuate the positive

Try not to dwell on what your loved one can’t do. Instead, focus on what might still be possible. This may mean scaling down your expectations and using your imagination but it could be well worth the effort. Don’t underestimate the satisfaction that can be brought from simply being able to complete a task. Even household chores such as folding laundry or setting a table can become a source of achievement and absorption.

Did you know?
People with dementia don’t always sit staring into space when they’re bored. Other signs of boredom include sleeping more during the day or seem agitated and restless, maybe pacing around the house or walking up and down stairs.

4. Keep moving

A gentle walk outdoors or even seated exercises can be good. Whilst it may seem contradictory, regular exercise at an appropriate level can actually help boost energy, and reduce daytime tiredness. Try using descriptive themes or imagery to encourage movement. For example, ‘move your legs like bicycle’ or ‘reach for the stars with each hand.’

5. Fuel the senses

Whether it’s stroking a soft cushion,  fiddle muff,  or therapeutic pet, or simply enjoying the scent of a favourite perfume, activities that tap into all the different senses can be remarkably stimulating and pleasurable, even in the later stages of dementia.