Dementia is a loss of cognitive function ranging from impairments in thinking, remembering, and reasoning to an extent that negatively affects an individual’s daily life and activities. Emotions in an individual with dementia can be difficult to control and their personalities are prone to change. Below are some tips to help make your desired activity more engaging and effective.
- For any activity in any of the interaction types, consider repeating steps and/or instructions for an activity more than once as the audience member(s) may not feel comfortable proceeding depending on their memory capabilities. The activity instructions should be simple and clear. Allow the audience member(s) to create as much as possible and communicate as much as possible. Creating and communicating are two strong indicators of engagement on their behalf.
- Depending on the age of the individual with dementia, consider not using too many activities that require movement as their movement may be limited. If you previously had movement as part of your presentation, an alternative may be drawing and/or using hands to create rhythms, and express emotion. There will more than likely be moments in which the audience member(s) connect their personal experiences to the music that is part of the activity. Should this happen, do not try to stop them from walking through these memories or thoughts as this will only frustrate them. Acknowledge the memory and/or thought and continue with the activity.
- Consider helping their environment be as distraction free as possible while they are engaging in an activity.
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Gilma M. Somarriba
B.A. in Psychology Florida International University
M.S. in Educational Psychology/Learning & Cognition with a specialization in Autism Spectrum Disorder Florida State University
Registered Behavior Therapist licensed by Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB)