Seeking purpose, meaning, and joy in the world all around us is extremely important for our wellbeing. For seniors with Alzheimer’s, that does not change even after a diagnosis of dementia. However, continuing to remain involved with hobbies and interests can become challenging, given that it’s quite common for many in the early stages of dementia to withdraw from routines that had been enjoyable.
For family caregivers, helping to reignite that spark and offering support to keep engaged is key. The following tips can help:
- Establish the older adult’s best time of day. If your loved one is an early riser but begins to lose energy later in the day, frame the day’s experiences around that schedule, such as taking an early morning walk and then working on a task together.
- Bring the past into the present. With long-term memory frequently stronger in those with Alzheimer’s than short-term memory, take advantage of what the older adult’s life was like during the course of a particular period, such as during his / her career, and personalize activities accordingly. For instance, a retired art teacher might want to paint a picture, while a homemaker may prefer sorting and folding laundry.
- Ask for help. Letting your loved one know that she or he is needed is an excellent confidence booster, and very important for self-worth. Ask your senior loved one to assist you in baking some cookies, in whatever means is appropriate in line with the stage of the dementia – even if it’s only mixing a bowl of flour and salt together. Or bring out a toolbox of assorted nuts and bolts and have the senior help you sort them.
Through the process of participating in activities, have the following in mind:
- Allow a lot of time for the senior to work at his or her own pace.
- Avoid “taking over,” but offer support and supervision as necessary and accepted.
- Give straight-forward instructions, one step at a time, in order to not overwhelm your loved one.
- Pay more attention to the activity itself, as opposed to an anticipated result.
- Continue being flexible, understanding the older adult may all of a sudden decide to change course.
Most importantly, focus on the high-quality time you’re spending together with a senior loved one. If a specific activity is not of great interest to the senior now, simply enjoy a conversation and reminiscing together, and try the activity again at another time.
The professional dementia care team at Hearts at Home In-Home Care is extensively trained and experienced in imaginative, effective approaches to helping older adults remain active and engaged in the world around them, and we’re always readily available to present helpful resources, tips, and the in-home care that families trust.