When it comes to activities that an older adult will enjoy, there might be a bit of trial and error. Use their preferences and interests as a guideline, but don’t be afraid to try new things – dementia can change people’s interests.
Experiment with these ideas for older adults. Use them as a starting point and customize for each individual’s ability level and interests. It might be difficult to change interests, but don’t give up. Just try again in the future to see if there’s any difference.
What is Low Vision?
Low vision is a form of visual impairment that cannot be corrected with glasses, contact lenses, or surgery. The main cause is age-related macular degeneration, but there are also other causes of low vision, including glaucoma and diabetes.
CDC reports that 12 million people aged 40 and over have vision impairment, which includes one million who are blind, three million who have impaired vision after correction, and eight million who have impaired vision due to uncorrected refractive error.
Music is a great way to get the person in your life who has Alzheimer’s disease to engage with you. Try playing their favorite songs or albums, especially music from their youth. Or, tune the radio to a station that plays the type of music they like. You can also encourage them to sing along to songs they know. Check out an app that makes it easier to sing along to the lyrics of a song.
Memories are simply made of sound. Surprise your loved ones with their favorite song to make them feel special. They’ll thank you for it. Another way to make memories is to experiment with making their own music, like playing the harmonica or using a musical shaker.
Reading to the elderly is a great way to connect to them – especially when they can’t read for themselves. What are some good ways to start conversations with an older adult? Listen to the radio, watch TV, or find something that captures their interest – but is not too complicated.
Audiobooks are a great way to bring the joy of reading to older adults. Your local library has audiobooks available for borrowing, online retailers have them for purchase, and many books are available for free on the National Library Service website. Audiobooks have helped many older adults maintain their mental health by keeping their minds sharp.
Some older adults like to listen to radio broadcasts and podcasts. Radio stations often make these programs available for free to their listeners and they can be downloaded online.
Movement and exercise
Play your favorite music and encourage them to dance with you, sway in their seat, or tap hands and feet along with the beat. Doing so can boost mood, circulation, and overall health. If you’re not sure what to play, try upbeat, familiar songs that get people out of their seats.
Interact them with Nature
Wheelchair users deserve the same fresh air and sun exposure as everyone else. Take them outside to experience the world from a new perspective. Take them for a ride in the car so they can see the beautiful scenery. And involve them in an indoor windowsill garden on their level. They can feel the dirt, measure plant growth, smell herbs, and even taste tomatoes.
It is important for someone with dementia and low vision to feel involved and important in the household. One way to do this is by helping with household chores. For example, someone can peel or cut fruit or snap beans, shell peas or beans, pull off stems, etc.
When someone with low vision helps in the kitchen, they can do some simple tasks that don’t require a lot of movement, like helping to measure ingredients into a large pot or bowl. If you’re doing some laundry, they can help by folding smaller items like hand towels or socks. They’re also great for helping to sort silverware, which requires close attention to detail.
The sculpture is great for older adults with limited sight. Modeling clay or sculpting sand are two good mediums to try. Older adults with some vision can also enjoy making collages or covering boxes by gluing cut-out images. For those with little vision, expressive painting is another great way to express oneself. Use vivid colors to contrast against a contrasting background to make it easier to see what is being created.
Paper folding, sorting, and tactile activities are soothing for many people, including the blind or visually impaired. You can use crumpled paper or tissue paper to enjoy some sensory relief, for example. Anything from sorting mixed shapes of pasta to coins can be made easy enough to distinguish with different shapes. Fidget toys are also satisfying and engaging.
These are the best games for seniors with vision loss. These games are specially designed to make it easier for seniors to see without needing glasses or magnifiers. For example, go fish and war are games where players can see cards clearly because the cards are large and clear. They also provide games like matching shapes and matching occupations, which help train the eye to identify shapes and details that may be harder to see. For anyone with low vision, these games are perfect for you.
Giant dominoes are a unique way to play a variety of different games. Regular or matching games, where your older adult invents the rules. Raised dots on special dominoes make it easier to play for people with little to no vision.
Consult Low Vision Specialist Regularly
Visit your nearest Low Vision Clinic and consult a licensed Low Vision Specialist. These specialists have a vast knowledge of the examination and management of patients with visual impairments. You could find an ophthalmologist with additional training in low vision care, as well.