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La Vie Care

For individuals living with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, maintaining cognitive function and engagement is crucial. Busy bag activities, filled with simple yet stimulating tasks, can provide a fun and effective way to keep minds active and spirits lifted. These activities are not only beneficial for those in assisted living or frail care environments but also for individuals receiving palliative care at home.

While medication plays a vital role in managing dementia symptoms, complementary therapies like busy bags can offer significant benefits. They can:

  • Promote cognitive stimulation: Engaging activities can help to maintain memory, focus, and problem-solving skills.
  • Reduce anxiety and agitation: Busy bags provide a sense of accomplishment and a distraction from negative emotions.
  • Improve mood and well-being: Engaging in enjoyable activities can boost mood and promote a sense of purpose.
  • Encourage social interaction: Working on busy bags together can be a fun way for residents in assisted living or La Vie Care communities to connect and socialize.

Here are four engaging busy bag ideas specifically designed for individuals with dementia:

  1. Textured Sorting

This activity appeals to the sense of touch and provides a calming sensory experience.

Materials:

  • Small container (plastic bin, shoebox)
  • Fabric scraps in various textures (velvet, satin, cotton, corduroy)
  • Buttons of different sizes and textures
  • Natural objects like pinecones, smooth stones, or dried beans

Instructions:

Place the fabric scraps, buttons, and natural objects inside the container. The person with dementia can reach in and identify the items by touch, sorting them by texture or category (soft/hard, smooth/rough).

Adaptations:

  • Label the container with pictures or words to represent different textures (soft, rough, smooth).
  • Include only a few items at a time to avoid overwhelming the person.
  1. Scented Treasure Hunt

This activity engages the sense of smell and memory while promoting a sense of accomplishment.

Materials:

  • Small container (plastic bin, shoebox)
  • Cotton balls
  • Essential oils (lavender, lemon, peppermint – diluted with a carrier oil)
  • Small trinkets or candies (optional)

 

Instructions:

Place a few cotton balls inside the container. Add a couple of drops of diluted essential oil to each cotton ball, creating different scents. Hide small trinkets or candies around the room with a corresponding scent (e.g., a lavender cotton ball paired with a lavender-scented sachet). The person with dementia can use their sense of smell to locate the hidden items.

 

Adaptations:

  • Use familiar scents like spices (cinnamon, cloves) or household items (soap, coffee grounds).
  • If the person struggles with mobility, place the hidden items within easy reach.

 

  1. Pattern Matching

This activity challenges visual processing and problem-solving skills in a fun way.

 

Materials:

  • Construction paper cut into squares or circles
  • Markers or crayons
  • Felt pieces in various colours and shapes (circles, squares, triangles)

 

Instructions:

Create simple geometric patterns on the construction paper squares using markers or crayons. Provide a selection of felt pieces in different colours and shapes. The person with dementia can match the felt pieces to the corresponding pattern on the paper squares.

 

Adaptations:

  • Start with simple patterns using only two or three colours.
  • Use larger felt pieces or pre-cut shapes to make it easier to match.
  1. Button Sorting and Stringing

This activity promotes fine motor skills and coordination while providing a sense of accomplishment.

 

Materials:

  • Yarn or string (cut into manageable lengths)
  • Buttons with large holes (in various colours and sizes)
  • Large bowl or container

 

Instructions:

Provide a bowl filled with buttons of different colours and sizes. Thread the yarn through a large needle (plastic safety needles work well). The person with dementia can string the buttons onto the yarn, creating a colourful necklace or bracelet.

 

Adaptations:

  • Use large buttons with extra-large holes to make threading easier.
  • Start with a short length of yarn and gradually increase the length as dexterity improves.

 

Busy bag activities are a simple yet powerful tool for promoting cognitive stimulation and well-being in individuals with dementia. By incorporating these activities into daily routines, caregivers in assisted living, frail care, or palliative care settings can help residents maintain a sense of purpose, reduce anxiety, and improve overall