When a family member is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or another type of progressive dementia, daily life can feel as though it’s a puzzle to be figured out. Considering that there are different stages of the disease, it’s not uncommon to come up with an assortment of activities that are soothing and enjoyable for the older person in one stage, which can abruptly become less effective and even upsetting for the senior.
- First of all, keep in mind that activities “with no right or wrong” are often most rewarding. This includes anything that brings satisfaction simply through participating in the activity, without a designated completed outcome or result.
- Also note that pastimes and interests the individual has previously enjoyed may now result in frustration or cause the senior to feel overwhelmed. Making modifications can help. For example, if the senior was a proficient pianist who is no longer able to play, he may find gratification in attending a concert or listening to favorite music on an iPod.
- Stimulating activities are particularly beneficial in providing opportunities for self-expression, social connectivity, and reduced anxiety and agitation. They can also offer a great occasion for reminiscing and stirring memories. We suggest the following:
- Experiment with an assortment of art mediums – water colors, clay, colored pencils, beads, etc.
- Make a small garden box (or take advantage of a larger outdoor space if manageable) and allow the senior to dig in the dirt with a trowel, plant seeds, and tend to the plants as they grow.
- Provide opportunities for meaningful duties around the residence, according to the individual’s ability level and desire. Folding laundry, wiping down the table, sorting buttons, nuts and bolts, or silverware, sweeping the floor, etc.
- Take out beloved family recipes and work together on preparing them; again, identifying tasks that are appropriate for the senior: rolling out cookie dough, stirring ingredients, and of course taste-testing!
- Reminisce over family photographs and movies.
Enjoying quality time with a senior loved one helps the family caregiver to relax as well, and provides the opportunity to create fond new memories together.
For further activity recommendations for seniors with dementia, and for the highly skilled and personalized in-home dementia care services that allow family members to take time to care for their own needs, contact Hearts at Home, providers of the trusted respite care Kansas City seniors need, at 913-440-4209.