How People Can Live Self-Directed, High-Quality Lives in Mid- to Late-Stage Dementia

Senior woman embracing daughter on the couch

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Each person has a unique story and a variety of interests, no matter how far the symptoms of dementia have progressed. Many people living with mid- to late-stage dementia still have the drive and desire to pursue the activities and hobbies they once loved. 

So if you want to help your loved one live a high-quality, self-directed life by keeping them engaged with you and their environment, look at this list of activities for people living with dementia, put together by our experts at The Ridge Senior Living. 

Activities for Seniors with Mid-Stage Dementia 

Activities that involve creativity and art are especially useful for someone in the middle stages of dementia, but there are many other activities they can enjoy. In fact, most seniors can continue all their favorite activities by simply changing the activity to match their abilities. 

These are a few activities a person with mid-stage dementia can still enjoy:

Cooking. You can create something fresh to eat by giving your loved one tasks like snapping beans, tearing lettuce, washing produce, or helping you clean up. Plus, you’re helping them lead a more self-directed life by giving them the opportunity to complete a task required to enjoy a healthy meal together.

Gardening. This is a great tactile activity for seniors in mid-stage dementia, and it gives your loved one a moderate amount of exercise. Have them pull weeds, plant seeds, or even lightly rake leaves. 

Senior woman gardening

Reading. There are several outstanding books for people living with dementia. Some of the most notable titles are “What the Wind Showed to Me” by Emma Rose Sparrow, “The Sunshine on My Face: A Read-Aloud Book for Memory-Challenged Adults” by Lydia Burdick, and “Simple Pleasures for Simple Seniors” by Dan Koffman.

Swimming. Swimming under supervision is a wonderful activity for those in the early to middle stages dementia. Many seniors enjoy the calming sensation of being in water. Some studies have even shown that spending time in water improves balance and reduces the risk of falls.

Walking. There’s a common misconception that seniors with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia just like to sit around all day. Walking is the perfect way to get your loved one moving, and it’s suitable for all abilities. Give them the opportunity to get social by joining a walking group.

The most effective way to keep a person with dementia interested in their hobbies is through encouragement. A self-directed lifestyle stems from a sense of self-worth, so make sure you’re always there to give them the confidence they need, and help only when they need it, so they can remain as independent as possible. 

Activities for Seniors Living with Late-Stage Dementia

There is a full range of activities you can do with people living in the late stages of dementia. The most important aspect of engaging with your loved one is allowing ample time to sit with them. Many people living with dementia can still sense when someone isn’t fully present, and are less likely to find a connection with the person trying to engage them. 

Here are just a few ways you can spend time with your loved one and engage their senses:

Get in the rhythm. Tapping and patting to a rhythm together using a stick or spoon is great way to make music and put a smile on your family member’s face.

Feel the love. Massaging your loved one’s hands with a lightly scented cream while they listen to their favorite song or calmly sit outside is relaxing and helps you feel an extra-close bond. You can even give them the chance to do the same to you!

Have fun with stamps. Pressing is a great tactile activity for seniors in the late-stage dementia. You can use block stamps or glue paper to cardboard. Experts recommend placing paper in your loved one’s hand and helping them glue. However, be sure to stop if you notice they become uncomfortable.

Folding. While they may not make perfect squares, your loved one will still feel a sense of comfort and confidence when they perform a daily task like folding towels, blankets or clothing. 

Simple Knitting. You can buy your loved one chunky yarn for simple knitting, or make a yarn card for them to pull colorful yarn through. 

Senior woman knitting at home

Wrapping. Who doesn’t like to receive presents? Find something like a hatbox or decorative bottle and wrap it. Not only will your loved one like picking at the paper; they’ll also delight at the small prize inside.

Remember, there will be satisfying moments and frustrating moments with your loved one, but as long as you stay patient and keep trying, you’ll both benefit from spending special time together. 

Spark Memories and Find Movement with Music Therapy

Research has shown that a person’s music memory can remain intact, even when they’re in mid- or late-stage dementia. Several studies have shown music improves mood, behavior and communication in seniors with dementia

Residents with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia at The Ridge are given personalized playlists on digital devices that are created with input from caregivers, family, friends and themselves.  

Senior man listening to music

Our care team receives specialized training from MUSIC & MEMORY® to curate personalized  playlists that activate cognition, boost spirits, and help residents in our memory care neighborhood  tap deep memories that let them feel like themselves again.  

What Is the Montessori Method for Seniors with Dementia?

The Montessori Method is an approach that targets a person’s interests with specialized programs and activities for people with dementia. It stimulates all five senses and activates their minds with person-centered care, instead of merely focusing on their disease. 

The principal focus of the Montessori Approach for Dementia at The Ridge Pinehurst is preserving a person’s individuality, which can be a source of comfort for people with dementia and caregivers alike.

These are the primary goals of the Montessori Method:

  • Help those with dementia discover what brings them joy.
  • Promote a sense of independence. 
  • Change the environment to suit the individual.
  • Respect and showcase a person’s history and personality.
  • Offer personalized care through tailored activities.

The Montessori Method helps seniors find their own joy, reignite their passions and feel a sense of accomplishment.

See How Your Loved One With Dementia Can Thrive at The Ridge Senior Living Communities 

To find out more about our whole-person approach to memory care, MUSIC & MEMORY® or the Montessori Method, contact The Ridge online or call us at 801-261-3153, and we’ll be in touch shortly.