There is nothing sweeter than the bond between a grandparent and grandchild. Many spend their whole lives looking forward to spoiling grandchildren, so a diagnosis of dementia in a family member can feel especially cruel.
But, dementia doesn’t have to ruin grandparents’ and grandchild relationships. By finding kid and dementia-friendly activities, you can ensure they keep their relationships, which leads to happier and more fulfilled lives for everyone.
Helping kids understand dementia and memory loss can help them feel less intimidated by the changes in their loved ones. Beyond that, it may even make them more willing to spend time with their grandparents. Once your child understands a little bit more about the effects of dementia, try out some of the activities below:
Spend Time in the Great Outdoors
Nature can ease anxiety and help you feel more connected to others. Little kids are full of energy and love time outside, too, so help seniors and kids enjoy time together with quality outdoor time. Try some of the following activities:
- Arrange flowers
- Tending to an herb or flower garden
- Catch bugs
- Birdwatch and draw pictures of what you see.
- Pack a picnic and go on a day hike in a park.
Even those with advanced dementia are sometimes capable of making simple recipes such as cookies or brownies. If your loved one is in the early stages of dementia, have them teach their grandchild to make a family recipe (with supervision).
Remember the time spent together making the recipe by taking a photo. If your child loves cooking, it could become a regular activity. Consider helping them work with their grandparents to make a book of family recipes.
Make Something Together
All children love to build block buildings and delight in knocking them down. So next time, take some blocks along to visit your loved ones. They’ll spend hours building endless towers with their grandchild.
When it comes to the older kids, they may enjoy doing arts and crafts with a grandparent. You’ll need to adapt the project to meet both participants’ skill levels, of course, but here are some ideas to get you started:
- Draw with sidewalk chalk.
- Paint self-portraits.
- Make a scrapbook.
- Make simple jewelry.
- Build a birdhouse.
Watch a Movie Together
Meaningful time together doesn’t have to be scheduled activities and ongoing projects. Grandkids love relaxing and watching a movie with their grandparents. Choose one film from the senior’s youth and one new movie that the child can share with their grandparent. Have kids bundle up and enjoy relaxing together.
Pick a favorite simple game and let the two make up their own rules, or choose an easy game from the senior’s youth. Some options are:
- Go fish
- Four square
Reading a favorite story to your loved one and your child is always a wonderful time. If the senior in your life can still read, encourage them to read out loud to their grandchild. Even the most uncomplicated pleasure of reading to a grandchild can help the grandparents feel like they’re contributing.
Play with Animals
Animals reduce the stressful effects of dementia and are great for kids too. They teach empathy and encourage gentleness. There are many options for spending time together with animals.
- Visit an animal shelter
- Going to a wildlife refuge
- Playing with a family pet
Dance and Sing
Everyone from young babies to those in the golden years loves clapping their hands, dancing, and singing together. Turn on some jiggy tunes and get up, and cut the rug. You older kids may love the chance to teach their grandparents the latest dance move. Seniors may also enjoy teaching their grandkids how to do the popular dances from their youth.
Yes, dementia and memory care is difficult to manage, but it is not the end of a meaningful life.
People in memory care have trouble finding the right words to express their feelings. This happens more and more the longer they live with dementia. Remember that hugs and smiles are just as good as words. Spending time together will help your child and your loved one in memory care feel loved.
Memory Care in Albuquerque, NM
At Avista Senior Living, we provide specially trained assistance for those with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease in memory care programs. We understand the importance of nurturing relationships and love to invite family and grandchildren to all of our activities. Please come by and see the difference for yourself.