Struggling to find activities - any suggestions please?

Discussion in 'I care for a person with dementia' started by looviloo, Sep 10, 2015.

  1. looviloo

    looviloo Registered User

    May 3, 2015
    #1 looviloo, Sep 10, 2015
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2015
    Dad has always loved technology (he was a computer engineer / radio ham etc) but because of age and dementia he struggles with even simple gadgets. For instance, he has a large button mobile phone that is specially made for the elderly but spends hours fiddling with it, pressing buttons, and then complaining that it doesn't work. It's frustrating for him (and me!) but I daren't take it off him because he still gets some pleasure from it, and still does manage to make calls from time to time.

    I can see him getting bored in his care home despite regular walks and morning activities run by the home. The trouble is he still wants to be 'doing' and 'thinking' but just doesn't have the capacity anymore... he won't read (just the occasional magazine), not interested in jigsaws or anything like that... just sits and watches TV or fiddles with the phone.

    So my question is, does anyone have any suggestions for a suitable activity that might appeal to him? He's constantly saying he wants a smartphone, but I know he couldn't handle one. So I'm wondering if a simple tablet might be ok, if such a thing exists? It has to be simple though. Or a digital photo frame? He's always liked cameras and wants to take photos but again, he couldn't manage anything with lots of buttons. Plus, I'm not sure the care home would like him wandering around taking photos all over the place!

    I'd be grateful for suggestions because I'm struggling to come up with anything!
  2. rhubarbtree

    rhubarbtree Registered User

    Jan 7, 2015
    North West
    Agree about the photos - could cause problems. I'm still using the first type of Apple ipad. Must be about five/six years old now. It is very robust and doesn't have a camera. Wonder if you could get one secondhand. You could put some free apps on, some photos and Facebook. I have been looking at "Suvien" a free app for Dementia patients but it will not work on the earlier ipads. Feel we should be able to harness the technology available to help patients.
  3. Cat27

    Cat27 Volunteer Moderator

    Feb 27, 2015
    I've seen posts on here about fidget boxes that have things like batteries, cards or buttons in so that they can literally fidget with the contents.
  4. looviloo

    looviloo Registered User

    May 3, 2015
    Thanks rhubarb tree :). We have an older iPad that dad borrowed a while back, but he asked me to take it away again because he found it confusing. I think I might try it again, though, and load up some photos that he can flick through... he doesn't have internet access at the moment so there's not that complication. He could possibly manage a simple card game app.

    I'll check out 'suvien' - it might give me some ideas :)
  5. looviloo

    looviloo Registered User

    May 3, 2015
    Something like that might work! At the moment, dad would need to think it was actually doing something, but it's definitely worth checking out and might be useful in the future :)
  6. jeany123

    jeany123 Registered User

    Mar 24, 2012
  7. Beate

    Beate Registered User

    May 21, 2014
    I find it an absolute scandal what some of these things can cost. The one thing that occupies OH's time more than anything else is a simple set of playing cards. He can spend hours sorting and resorting them into an order only he understands.
  8. jeany123

    jeany123 Registered User

    Mar 24, 2012
    I agree Beate, Allen likes to sort his boxes filled with wallet,money,batteries, little torches magnets, pens,pencils, rubbers, little books,watches packs of cards and box of dominoes he spends hours sorting them out and tidying them up,
  9. fizzie

    fizzie Registered User

    Jul 20, 2011
    This is probably a 'no go' but would he like a simple model aeroplane or something similar, for example

    I think there are quite a lot of fairly simple model making kits using all sorts of materials and they could be repackaged so that they didn't instantly look as though they were for youngsters.

    possibly a clock making kit

    just a thought
  10. Kevinl

    Kevinl Registered User

    Aug 24, 2013
    You could try Lego, if he like putting things together, it might sound odd but they do packs where you can assemble things like; cars, trains, buildings all sorts of stuff.
    The do adult kits too some of which are maybe a bit too complicated but there's a whole age range of kits some of which may be suitable.
  11. fizzie

    fizzie Registered User

    Jul 20, 2011
  12. Weary

    Weary Registered User

    Aug 1, 2014
    What about a childs meccano set? He could construct things with it that might keep him busy :)
  13. looviloo

    looviloo Registered User

    May 3, 2015
    Many thanks for all the suggestions! I love all of the ideas. Kevinl, the lego could work, why didn't I think of that?! And meccano too (thanks Weary), even if he's just sorting the bits out rather than 'building'. It's dad's birthday coming up so could be given as a fun present.

    Fizzie, thanks for the links. I love the idea of getting the local radio group involved, if anyone was willing. It's definitely worth asking. His care home is high on a hillside so perfect for radio reception :).

    Beate, I'm going to buy some playing cards too, maybe the extra large ones. (I remember as a kid dad used to build those playing card towers with us ;-)).

    Jeany123, those latch boards look great, if a bit expensive... but I'm sure it'd be possible to make one.

    Thanks again!
  14. arielsmelody

    arielsmelody Registered User

    Jul 16, 2015
    It might be a bit too advanced, but how about a Nintendo DSi XL, with a simple card game loaded?
  15. JigJog

    JigJog Registered User

    Nov 6, 2013
    #15 JigJog, Sep 11, 2015
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2015

    Hey Arielsmelody, I was just going to post that! :D

    When my husband was diagnosed, the consultant said to get him a Nintendo DSi XL. I didn't have a clue what he was talking about and knew nothing of electronic, hand held games.

    I did a lot of research and bought one with a whole load of games from that well known auction site. You can get one for less than £30 with games. It has been fantastic and I really would recommend it. They are tougher than a tablet and there is less to go wrong. Very easy. He plays a number of games; Solitaire, making words out of letters (he can still do three letter words) and matching tiles/jewels three in a row. He uses it every day and we take it with us if we need to go for medical appointments and wait etc. Well worth a try. If it doesn't work for him, you can always pop it back on the auction site and sell it again. Nothing lost.

    We have also bought a tablet recently. You may want to look at this thread here:

    This took some time for him to learn but he has done it. :) Again he uses this a great deal. He checks the weather each morning and looks at the BBC News, which you can set to My News, selecting things which will interest him. He plays Solitaire, matching games. He loves Tour de France and when that was on, I downloaded an app which gave us the maps to follow the routes. We also have downloaded an app for the Rugby World Cup. He is getting so much more from it than I ever thought. It is certainly worth a try.

    With regard to a phone he had an old BB with a keyboard at the bottom. He cracked the screen and I replaced it with a BB Smartphone. It was a disaster; far too complicated. Just that one mistake caused so much anxiety and stress for him. It was a real worry that he couldn't answer the phone if I rang him or ring/text me if needed. I tried a Nokia 215 which was just text and call but by this point he was so confused, he still tries to swipe the screen. :( He now has an OWNFONE which just has the four names of folks he contacts most. It does the job nicely but it has all been a bit of a nightmare for him.

    I hope you might read something of use here. Let us know what you decide.

    JigJog xxx
  16. DMac

    DMac Registered User

    Jul 18, 2015
    Surrey, UK
    I'm trying out colouring with my mum-in-law. We tried this at an art group last week, with a mixed response, tbh. She found it difficult to follow the pattern in places.

    I know that colouring has become popular quite recently, as it's meant to be quite therapeutic. I have seen colouring books and crayons/ pens on sale in the shops. Some of the colouring-in templates can be quite busy-looking and confusing, though, so I'm on the lookout for some simpler, clearer designs.
  17. jugglingmum

    jugglingmum Registered User

    Jan 5, 2014
    I think there are 2 types of adult colouring books, with simpler ones being available for dementia patients and the more complex aimed at the general population. I have seen friends 'grown up ' children posting about them on FB.
  18. LadyA

    LadyA Registered User

    Oct 19, 2009
    There's a website called Active Minds that do a range of stuff for people with dementia, including colouring materials and other arts and crafts stuff. Their painting and colouring pictures, like their jigsaw puzzles, are simple, but not child- like. They are grown up pictures - nature pictures etc. - but simply done. If you can't find it, I have the link on my laptop, but can't figure out how to post links from my phone!

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