A study published in the American journal of Geriatric Society demonstrated a significant decrease in challenging behaviors (such as sun downing, repetitive questioning, agitation, and argumentative interactions) when activities that were of interest and at the right skill level were offered to people with dementia. Many other studies have shown similar benefits of meaningful activities.
Self-esteem (how people feel about themselves) often takes a beating when someone has Alzheimer’s or other dementias. Especially in the early stages, when people are aware that they are having memory problems, feelings of incompetence, depression and anxiety are common. Offering someone an activity to do can be an encouragement by which they can experience success and enjoyment.
Engaging people with dementia in activities can reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety. Multiple studies have demonstrated and improvement in depression and anxiety through the provision of structured activity programs, and some have even shown that improvement to continue for up to six months after the study was concluded.
If the benefits listed above are not enough to convince you that meaningful activities are important, consider the benefit the caregiver experiences. If your loved one is actively engaged, you will spend less time responding to problematic behaviors and more time enjoying positive interactions with your family member.