Dementia Care in the Time of COVID-19: 30 Activities That Can Be Done in 30 Seconds or Less
Every interaction can create a moment of connection. This coronavirus-sensitive list offers just a few ideas for maintaining critical socialization and engagement in this time of crisis.
- Greet the person by his or her first name – Helps the person feel known; sometimes a first name is best
- Make eye contact and smile – From 6 feet away you can briefly lower your mask
- Tell someone he or she is loved – Reassuring words always help
- Give a sincere compliment – It only takes a few seconds and lifts the person’s spirits
- Ask an opinion – Shows you value the person
- Blow up a balloon and enjoy a simple one-on-one balloon toss – Pop it when done for infection control
- Evoke a happy memory from the person’s Life Story – Even with dementia, the person often remembers special achievements or big life events
- Slip a little treat to someone – Chocolate almost always lifts the mood!
- Show off some family photos or photos of your pet – Children and pets are popular choices
- Look at or create a flower arrangement together – Admire the colors and textures
- Ask for advice on a recipe – You might learn some new techniques
- Tell a funny story or joke – Laughter reduces stress and builds connection
- Ask the person to mimic your dance moves to fun music playing in the background – Exercise and movement are good for the brain and body
- Play a song from your phone – Find out what type of music your resident likes best and play his or her favorite song or singer
- Try on some funny hats – It’s okay to be a bit silly, just be safe and don’t share the same hats
- Step onto a patio or enclosed courtyard for fresh air – Sunlight fights depression and the outdoors is life affirming for all
- Hum a tune – Music and song lyrics remain even when dementia impacts words and language
- Blow a kiss – This playful old ritual shows affection; you might get one back (from at least 6 feet away)
- Demonstrate a jumping jack – Guaranteed to add some fun to the day
- Recite a poem – Can evoke meaning and emotion
- Spell someone’s name – A very personal activity, and especially interesting if the person has an unusual name
- Model your collection of interesting scarves – Brainstorm different things you can do for fun with a scarf—a tug of war?
- Ask for help with a chore – People with dementia, like all of us, have a need to be needed
- Ask an open-ended question to promote conversation – “Tell me more about the people in this photograph”
- Comment on something interesting in a resident’s room – “Did you make this quilt?”
- Do some brain aerobics with simple word associations – Up and… down, top and… bottom, salt and… pepper, etc.
- Brainstorm desserts you are craving or comfort foods – “What’s better, mashed potatoes with gravy or macaroni and cheese?”
- Do some trivia about your hometown or city – Make lists of noted local stores or restaurants
- Do a survey or take a vote on a popular task – Who is a cat person? Dog person? Both? Neither?
- Make the heart sign with your fingers and hands – Who doesn’t benefit from being told he or she is loved?
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