hobbies to keep dementia pts happy?

  1. 2
    It is so difficult to keep bored and dementia related pts content. Many have had busy full lives and here they are with nothing to do and confused about it all. I have given ladies towels to fold, and that works sometimes. One lady laughed at me when I gave her some to fold. Once I gave a bored male pt a damp washcloth and told him we needed all the handrails in the hall wiped down. Our OT department does not seem to address this yet. Can you think of any toys, etc that might work? Thanks.
    RaeiRN and core34 like this.

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  2. 40 Comments...

  3. 2
    Great question! I would love to hear what other people are doing out there!

    I currently work on a Geri-psych unit and I struggle with this daily. We have a basket of clothes to fold as well. We also have a bin of nail stuff for the ladies. Some of the women would be preoccupied with their nails for hours. We have a wide range of patients and I never feel like we successfully address dementia patients' needs. A lot of the activities are geared towards oriented patients -- and most of them can't tolerate/comprehend group activities.

    I've tried looking stuff up online -- but I haven't turned up much! Hope this thread will shed some light for us!
    S.N. Visit and makes needs known like this.
  4. 3
    These are made in Australia, but I'm sure a similar product or concept is available elsewhere.


    The nursing home my son works in has something similar that goes by the nickname of "fiddle mats".
    AgriWoman, achot chavi, and core34 like this.
  5. 2
    At a place I worked at, years ago, we got them all together in the dining room and gave them fresh green beans to "snap". It worked so well that another time we gave them ears of corn to shuck. The activity dept. arranged it. A local farmer whose relative was a resident donated the veggies. What the dietary dept. couldn't cook was placed into Zip-Lock bags and sold to staff. It took very little supervision and they all seemed to enjoy it. This was years ago before we got soooo bogged down with paperwork and med passes from hell. Would love to have time to do something like that where I work now.
    NocturneNrse and achot chavi like this.
  6. 1
    Crayons and coloring books work for some of our dementia residents.
    tayloramaRN2be likes this.
  7. 0
    I second the folding towels, we used to guve one woman a heap of files and papers (meaningless), wiping down the banisters is a great one.
  8. 0
    Please remember that these are ADULTS not big children. Crayons and coloring books?? One thing we've found that works with almost everyone and costs nothing is singing. Even people who can't remember the day of the week can remember songs from years ago. Not only is it free, not only can everyone participate, singing is great for expanding the lungs and keeping healthy. Gotta say I loved the beans and corn idea. One place I worked had the demented residents counting packages of sterile 2x2's and 4x4's into bundles to fit into the pixus machine....sounded like a good idea until I saw 1/2 of them licking their fingers and touching the packaging to count them....eeeewwww.
  9. 6
    One of my more demented patients can get quite agitated and verges on the boarder of becoming violent at times. When I see her agitation rising, I park my med cart next to where she sits by the nurses station while I do med pass and I softly being to hum or sing a song. She ALWAYS picks up on it and starts singing away. She actually has a lovely voice and I enjoy seeing her smiling and singing. She gets quite loud while singing but I'd rather the volume of her voice be loud and singing than just loud and screaming. She has her favorite song that she and I will sing together..over and over and over and over....LOL

    A basket full of clothes/wash clothes towels etc for our lady residents who are worried about getting home to their families works most times.

    A stack of papers to sort, write on etc for our gentleman residents who always speak of busines meetings etc they must attend.

    A deck of cards for those who seem to have a repetitive behavior that keeps them calm...a few sit for quite a while, quietly sorting cards, looking at them, arranging them into patterns etc.

    I have one resident that is like our "sentry". I will ask her to "keep an eye" on my cart. She will shooo away residents who are known to take all the cups, straws etc. If she hears a chair alarm going off, she will gently say to the resident "its ok, Jane, sit down now" and Jane always listens to her. My "sentry" will sound the alarm so to speak if residents she knows aren't supposed to try to go out the door and into the elevator. she will divert their attention until a staff member gets to the escapee.

    What I have found in my many years working in LTC (both as a nurse and CNA) is most of them just want a "purpose", something that they feel is a needed "service" even if they are a bit demented or confused.

    I had one lady who would never fold towels/wash cloths if you gave them to her and asked her to do it, but if you walked by with a stack of them and "accidentaly" dropped them near her and gave a heavy sigh and said more to yourself but loud enough for her to hear "ohhh brother, i just folded these, I have so much to do and now I have to refold these towels again..I am going to be so late" she would graciously offer to do it for you. when she was done, I'd pick them up, thank her profusely and take a step or two and "drop" them again, because she was so confused, she didn't catch on to my little ploy.
    NJayne17, tewdles, Forever Sunshine, and 3 others like this.
  10. 2
    Making decorations for holiday times and birthdays..cards for people to sign and give on birthdays (can just use a blank folded piece of paper with crayons/pens ). Dusting, emptying trash in garbage sack, depending on the extent of dementia.. "visitor greeters" to welcome them to the area. Find something you "lost" such as a favorite pen you think you dropped on the floor somewhere or a card, cutting out coupons in the paper, using the rest of the paper to make paper dolls, planting something in a pot then taking care of the plant as it grows, watering plants. Even dementia patients, if they have a lifetime background of doing something, are likely to do it well. A good idea is to find out what they used to do for work or hobby and make a variation of it they will be able to do now. For instance my Mom used to love planting cactus gardens...she wouldn't be able to now with the spines on the cactus, but still enjoys just planting regular plants in pots.

    I am thinking mainly of single activities that can be done on the spur of the moment and not group ones planned....yet things like bingo, making friendship bracelets, a group effort to cook such as making a cake with different people getting ingredients and others stirring, bringing animals as allowed for them to pet, singing etc. would require more supervision.
    GHGoonette and makes needs known like this.
  11. 17
    I am a memory care coordinator for a dementia unit and I deal with this all day! Purpose is the biggest thing! I made several activity kits that can be done with one or 2 residents. I put them in shoebox sized rubbermaid containers and label the front with what they are so that the CNAs can easily identify what they are supposed to do. I have a lot of info on this and would be happy to email it to anyone that wants it. THe biggest thing that works well for men is to give them a block of wood and a piece of sandpaper and ask them to sand it down for you. They will work on it for HOURS!!! We havev to remember that the activity staff cannot reach every resident at every minute. We have to support them. Be low is a list of some of the boxes I have made. PM me if you need more suggestions or an explanantion of some of the boxes.
    1.Shape Sorting Board
    2.Flower Box
    3.Beads and Pattern Cards
    4.Sensory Soother
    5.Sewing Cards
    6.Sorting Colors and Letters
    7.Sock Sorting and Folding Box
    8.Pat Mats
    9.Sewing Cards
    10.Beach Balls
    11.Music Trivia Ball
    12.Name 3 Ball
    13.Simple Puzzles
    14.Yarn Box
    15.Activity Aprons
    18.Sing a long/Music Time
    19.Ribbon Box
    20.PVC Pipes Box
    21.Play-Doh Box
    23.Short Stories
    24.Watering Plants
    25.Patio Time
    26.Group Walk
    27.Spa Box
    28.Current Events
    29.Baby Doll box
    30.Fill up the bird feeders
    31.Looking at magazines
    32.Sanding Blocks box
    LisaLittle, nursinmama921, MommaRN86, and 14 others like this.

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