Renae Diggles

October 29, 2020

Creative Arts Activities for People with Dementia

Renae Diggles

October 29, 2020

How Creative Arts Can Help People With Dementia

There are around fifty million people living with dementia globally. Rather than only looking at pharmaceutical options to manage dementia, health professionals are looking at non-pharmaceutical options for treatment and for improving quality of life. There are several activities for people with dementia that are both creative and recreational. These activities can help people who have dementia. Activities range from memory games, self-esteem exercises, and social interactions to name a few.

Current Programs and Activities For People With Dementia

There are an abundance of programs out there to help people with dementia. These programs are run in the community as well as in residential care facilities. One program is Art and Dementia Program. It’s run by The National Gallery of Australia (NGA). This program enables participants to socialise and gain social interaction. The interactions occur through participation, as well as mental stimulation while wandering through the gallery.The creation of the Art and Dementia Program came about as a result of a pilot program which ran for six weeks in 2007 at the National Gallery of Australia. This pilot built the foundations to which the program is based on today.

Other programs and activities that are offered to people living with dementia are of a less formal nature.  Nowadays, nursing homes and retirement communities offer creative arts activities such as crafts. They also offer singalongs, and dancing too.

There are many studies supporting the benefits of the Arts and Dementia Program. Additionally, there are studies demonstrating that people with dementia flourish when displaying their creativity. These people demonstrate their creativity in ways that loved ones and caregivers never imagined possible through the creative arts.


Promoting Engagement for People With Dementia

There are several activities that you can encourage your loved one to participate in. If they’re living in care, often aged care homes offer cooking classes. If cooking is something that your loved has expressed interest in this could be a great way to express their creativity, with support and encouragement. Simple cooking with a few ingredients is a great way to start.

Painting is a wonderful way for anybody to express themselves. Having the opportunity to paint can be liberating and expressive. If you’re going to enjoy painting with your loved one, have everything setup before you suggest the idea. And have some painting ideas on hand that you could suggest. If painting is not going to work, then maybe scrapbooking would be fun. Many of us love flicking though old photographs and letters. For those living with dementia, this can be emotional in a positive way, and prompt the recall of fond memories.

If your family member used to love knitting or crocheting, they may still be able to pick it up easily. Obviously don’t force something that is too difficult, but you could sit a ball of wall and some knitting needles nearby. You might even have an unfinished scarf sitting in the cupboard. If you participate with them, this might be a favourite pastime that they pick up and enjoy once again.

Another idea is venturing out to the local RSL or bowls club for some social time. This is especially a good idea if they have music and dancing on at the time. But if this isn’t going to work for your loved one, a quieter singalong at home or at the aged care home might be a good idea for some creative enjoyment.

Although gardening is not typically seen as a creative art, you can get creative in the garden. There are a lot of gardening lovers out there, and this activity may provoke fond memories for some. For example, pruning or planting perennials could be really joyous and help with recall for some people living with dementia.

Enjoy Reminiscing

These creative arts activities help our family members to reminisce. Don’t ignore the importance of reminiscing for the elderly. Reminiscing creates moments in time that being about memories from the past. If your loved one has dementia and you’re considering an aged care facility, be sure to look for one that offers creative and interactive activities. Everybody should have the opportunity to enjoy the arts at all stages of life.

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