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Attention Span & Concentration


If your loved one is suffering from dementia, you may notice that focusing on a certain task is challenging — a loud noise may completely dismantle the completion of a household chore, such as making the bed, or focusing on completing a puzzle may simply not be in the cards. The following exercises may help your loved one increase the cognitive function required to maintain some level of attention span and concentration:

Exercise #1: Create a set of opposite cards. For example, one would have an image of fire, the other with ice. One the image of a dog, the other, a cat — and so on. Shuffle the cards and lay the images out on a table, ensuring the opposite sets are visible. Ask your loved one to physically match the sets based on opposites. Next, re-shuffle the cards, and hold one up at a time (for example, the fire card). Make a statement like, “If this is hot, the opposite would be what?” Ask your loved one to choose the correct opposite card from the deck of remaining cards.

Exercise #2: Create a set of color and shape cards, and begin a homemade game of Concentration. Lay out the set of cards, face up, in front of your loved one, and have him or her study the location of the cards for about one minute. Turn the cards face down, and then ask your loved one to find the matches based on their memory of the card locations.

As you’re working with your loved one on these exercises, carefully monitor the amount of time s/he spends on each activity before becoming distracted and requiring redirection. The goal is to have your loved one maintain, if not improve, their time over the course of your sessions. If you must redirect your loved one in order to help them remain on task, simply restate the original directions, or offer to demonstrate the activity for clarification. Remember to use clear and positive communication skills, and work within your loved one’s abilities and tolerance levels — while watching for signs of overwhelm or exhaustion.

Go Back to Dementia Care Tip Catalog

Let Our Family of Caregivers Support Yours

Pathways to Memory, offered exclusively by Homewatch CareGivers, is comprised of two distinct service options: Specialized Dementia Care and Focused Memory Training. All Pathways to Memory services are provided by specially trained individuals that bring patience and compassion to an emotionally charged family dynamic. As a neutral third party, our caregivers are able to focus on what’s best for the client today, without the emotional history that comes with a lifetime of knowing someone.

Specialized Dementia Care is personal and companion care provided by intensively trained and tested caregivers. Through our Specialized Dementia Care services we strive to increase the quality of life and provide a more interactive care experience in our clients’ lives — every day.

Focused Memory Training cultivates self-sufficiency, competency and self-worth — while promoting a sense of purpose and the memory skills needed for life’s daily activities. Because memory translates to ability, participants experience a boost in confidence and renew their outlook on life.