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  • Sharon Daltrey

How do activities enrich the lives of people with dementia?

It’s widely understood that people with dementia experience short term memory loss. It’s very often the first symptom to arrive and never returns. So it may seem reasonable to question the value of interacting and participating in activities with them, as they won’t remember afterwards. However, taking the time to engage in activities with those who have dementia has much value.

The reason lies in the basic nature of our brain function, instinctive behaviours and systems. One such system is the pleasure/reward cycle. When we achieve something, our brain rewards us with a pleasurable feeling. Current scientific understanding suggests that for those with dementia, similar to the general population, the positive feelings and sense of accomplishment experienced during an activity persists beyond the activity itself.  Though this effect is temporary, as it is for all of us, it still has the power to boost mood, focus, motivation and happiness for them in those moments, and can then easily be repeated.

It's important to recognize the variability in individual responses and understand that the effects of activities can differ and that more research is needed for a more complete understanding. However, the effects of engaging in activities and activating this reward system may also help counterbalance challenging behaviours, like a refusal to participate in self-care, or repeated requests to go home, while the positive effects are still present.

This is the foundation on which Timeless Presents is built. Designing activities that present as familiar and achievable to those with dementia. By adapting classic and vintage activities so they are easy for anyone to use and are, importantly, accessible by those with dementia, and by making them affordable. We’re aiming for nothing less than changing the lives of all those currently living with dementia.

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