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Rewarding Activities for People with Mild Cognitive Impairment

Spending time with your loved ones, especially if they live with mild cognitive issues, should be rewarding and relaxing for all. Some activities may not be appropriate for someone experiencing memory issues, while others may help make a deeper connection. There are a lot of activities for people with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) to enjoy.

Activities to Avoid with MCI

While spending time with a loved one or friend with mild cognitive impairment, it's essential to be mindful of activities that may cause frustration or distress. In many cases, the person with the cognitive impairment may be able to express what types of activity they dislike. Often, there’s a reason for this. Believe a person if they don't want to play or experience something.

Here are some types of activities that could be challenging:

  • Complex Games or Puzzles: Activities that require complex problem-solving or memory skills might frustrate a person. Don’t expect them to learn a new game. They may struggle to follow the rules.
  • Fast-Paced Activities: Fast-paced activities or conversations can be overwhelming and stressful for individuals with cognitive impairment, as they may have difficulty processing information quickly. This includes fast-paced television shows or movies.
  • Multitasking: Engaging in multiple activities simultaneously can be confusing and overwhelming for someone with cognitive impairment. It's better to focus on one activity at a time.
  • Unfamiliar Environments: Going to crowded or noisy places or environments they are not familiar with can lead to disorientation and anxiety.
  • Tasks Requiring High Concentration: Activities that demand high focus or sustained attention may become overwhelming.
  • Unstructured Activities: Having too many options or a lack of structure in activities may make it challenging for them to make decisions or feel accomplished.
  • Activities That Highlight Memory Loss: Engaging in activities that continually remind them of their memory difficulties can be disheartening and frustrating.

Feel-Good Activities for Loved Ones with Mild Cognitive Issues

Spending recreational time with a person with mild cognitive impairment is essential. Everyone needs people in their life! Many senior living homes structure time into the day to help people live more rewarding lives. However, friends and guests often wonder what kind of activities will help their loved ones.

Here are some excellent ways to engage and connect:

  • Nature Walks: Walking helps keep blood pressure low, reduces stress and anxiety, and can be calming and enjoyable. You can enjoy the outdoors, breathe fresh air, and appreciate nature together. Consider doing a guided mindfulness nature walk to help you both be more present. Make sure there are benches or seating along your walking path.
  • Music Therapy: Music has a positive impact on memory and mood. People with cognitive issues often find it jogs their memories and brings them back to a certain time. Listen to their favorite songs with them, and ask them about any stories of music experiences.
  • Cooking or Baking Together: Preparing simple recipes together can be fun – sometimes just cookies from a can! Even the grandkids can help - and also stimulate their senses. It can also bring back fond memories of past cooking experiences.
  • Social Outings: Organize outings to meet with friends or family members to promote social interactions and reduce feelings of isolation. Try to avoid crowded or unfamiliar places. Maybe you can start with a picnic.

Patience is key when you love somebody with mild cognitive impairment. Sometimes, your loved one may lose track of a conversation or time. Don’t take this personally – this is their chapter of life. Instead, embrace your time together and be understanding and adaptable.

Create a positive and supportive environment that promotes well-being and connection. By spending time with your loved one, you’re also making precious new memories for your family and yourself. (Don't forget the selfies!)

Learn More About Present Moments Senior Living

If you or a loved one need help making decisions about independent living or have questions about our homes, we’re here to help every step of the way. Give us a call at 442-232-2824.


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Mark Gladden
Driven by a desire to enable seniors to age gracefully in a place they can call home, Mark founded Present Moments Senior Living. From programming activities to hiring capable staff to overseeing day-to-day operations, Mark strives to make Present Moments a nurturing environment where residents can live meaningfully.