Toys are not just for children. Play offers great benefits for people with dementia.
When we think of toys we tend to associate them with children, however Bruno Bettelheim was an Austrian-born American child psychologist and writer who gained an international reputation for his work on Freud, psychoanalysis, and emotionally disturbed children.
He said once, “The child knows only that he engages in play because it is enjoyable. He isn’t aware of his need to play….”
The need to play or otherwise be active applies to adults as well, including people affected with dementia. The activity, the stimulation, a sense of accomplishment are all beneficial and therapeutic. It’s not inappropriate to give toys to people with Alzheimer’s. They might not be aware of the benefit they are getting from the play, but if you watch them I think you will see it.
When you choose a toy for a child you take into account the stage of the child’s development. You wouldn’t buy a bicycle for a baby and you wouldn’t give a 10 year old a rattle!
For someone with Dementia they go through a very similar stages cognitively as a growing child, but in reverse. Cognitive,and social abilities, are slowly lost as the disease progresses with the person regaining childlike (not childish) qualities which allow children see their world as a magical place with everything being new for them.
Many people with dementia benefit from using toys for entertainment, pleasure and comfort and here are some examples I particularly like. They are great for people who will benefit from entertaining fiddling fingers and bright and cheerful too.
This sort of toy can be cheaply purchased and they are available in a range of shapes, sizes and characters. They tend to have inflatable ball centres and rubber tentacles which are very fiddle-with- able !
Other toys that are ideal are widely featured on the multi award winning website Sensory Fun.com. Here they also have scented items and thing to chew. There is bound to be something to suit someones’ needs.