If you’ve ever been sick in bed for several days with a bad cold, flu, or COVID-19, you know that it doesn’t take long before you start to feel weak, sore, and even restless. Now imagine how older adults with dementia may feel during a hospital stay, and what effects those days lying in bed can have on their function, mobility and cognition.
Lack of physical activity and cognitive stimulation can lead to significant functional decline, and it can do so quickly. But if your patients with dementia engage in regular physical activity during their hospital stay, they can benefit from reduced arthritis pain, improved mood, and less chance of becoming bored or agitated (which could lead to challenging behaviors that you and staff would have to address), among other things.
So how can you and your staff engage patients in activities on your busy hospital unit? Who will take the lead? We have some ideas:
- Educate and engage student nurses, new hires, and visitors in function focused care and ask them to lead activities to avert boredom and functional decline among patients with dementia.
- Set up an activity room where one staff can monitor and engage cohorted patients in stimulating activities. Just getting patients to walk to the room is a great start and can help them maintain mobility during their stay! Create a schedule and rotate staff to monitor the room and engage the patients in simple activities like stretches, horse shoes (they make foam or plastic sets!), dancing to music, and balloon volleyball. Patients with more moderate to severe dementia might enjoy doing chores such as sweeping the room, folding towels, or dusting. These are common activities in many long term care facilities, so they may already be familiar to them, and therefore easier to engage. (Provide infection control guidelines for cleaning activity resources.)
- For cognitive stimulation activities, check out these fun ideas from DailyCaring.com: https://dailycaring.com/4-busy-bag-activities-for-seniors-with-dementia/?utm_source=DailyCaring&utm_campaign=2650c2e937-DC_Email_2019-07-15&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_57c250b62e-2650c2e937-123152321
- This handout has tips for increasing engagement in preferred activities: https://epassonline.files.wordpress.com/2015/07/engagement-handout.pdf
Have a great week and Happy Mother’s Day!