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Aug 17, 2023

What are the best activities for late-stage dementia?

Why activities for late-stage dementia still matter

Typically, there are three stages to dementia – the early stage, where symptoms are still quite mild, moderate symptoms appear in the middle-stage and by the time a person gets to late-stage dementia, their symptoms are quite severe, with observable behaviour changes such as a reduced ability to speak to either a minimal level or where speech is no longer possible, impaired walking or rigidity, a greater lack of focus or concentration and generally a risk of an increase in things like agitation, restlessness and isolation.   

With this in mind, once a person reaches the late stages of dementia, it might feel increasingly difficult to find activities that provide a sense of wellbeing because the degree to which they can respond to these activities or show engagement or even engage at all are difficult to gauge. In other words, it gets increasingly difficult to know whether what care staff are doing is leading to a positive outcome.  

But there is a common misconception that activities become less relevant for people living with late-stage dementia; in reality, they are even more relevant. Despite how severe the symptoms of late-stage dementia might be, a person living with it can still experience a range of emotions, such as boredom, frustration and loneliness, which is why providing meaningful activities are essential.  

There are many activity ideas to explore that can potentially provide stimulation and ultimately provide a meaningful connection and the best quality of life possible, which for people late-stage dementia, is the most important thing.

Read more here for top 10 activities for people with dementia

Determining the appropriate activities for late-stage dementia

When a person reaches the later stages of dementia, the most important things are preserving dignity, making sure they are content and comfortable, and have as much quality of life as possible. Because engagement from their point of view can be minimal at this stage, care staff should think more broadly about stimulating the five senses: touch, smell, hearing, sight, and taste. 

An approach like this is most effective when thinking about activities for late-stage dementia because of a lack of verbal communication and the degree of cognitive decline; the activities should not be challenging, but should provide an outlet for the person to feel a connection either to the care staff member spending time with them or to something else, like an object, a noise or a smell. 

Ideas for the best indoor activities 

Trying to foster a meaningful connection is very important when it comes to providing care and thinking about activities for people with late-stage dementia, and if they cannot go outside, or if they are confined to their beds, activities such as looking through photo albums or utilising sensory books are good options to not only stimulate their senses but also possibly help to recall fond memories. Playing them music will also help to provide a sense of contentment, as well as inviting a furry friend from a pet therapy group to the care home to spend some time with them.  

Other activities for people with late-stage dementia to consider are reading aloud to them, watching their favourite movies or TV shows with them, utilising sensory bean bags or maintaining a physical connection by doing something like holding their hand, giving them a hand massage or brushing their hair.  

Ideas for outdoor activities

If the person being cared for is able to go outdoors, then there are a multitude of opportunities to provide sensory stimulation, as well as a meaningful connection to the world around them. Sitting with them in the garden will give them the chance to enjoy some fresh air and sunshine if the weather is nice, as well as getting some vitamin D.  

They can also enjoy to the sights and sounds of being outside, such as the birds chirping or wind rustling through the trees. It can also potentially help to rekindle fond memories of similar situations from their life. 

Activities for better quality of life with Oomph! OnDemand

Caring for someone with dementia, whether it’s in the early or late stages, can present challenges. Care staff always strive to provide the best possible person-centred care, and a significant component of that is providing activities to allow for a sense of engagement, happiness and community interaction. 

The Oomph! OnDemand Platform gives care staff access to more than 1,000 activity ideas that can be used to build uniquely tailored activity plans, so that residents can enjoy a full life for life. The platform offers a multitude of filters to choose from, meaning that there are many dementia-friendly activities and suggestions on how to alter activities to suit people with dementia. And even if someone not able to leave their bed, the vast majority of the activities are printable, so you can bring the activities to them and take the time to establish a meaningful connection with those you care for. 

Click here for more information on the Oomph! Wellbeing and Activities Platform

August 17, 2023

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