If a family member is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or another kind of progressive dementia, everyday life can feel as though it’s a riddle to be figured out. Given that there are various stages of the disease, it’s common to find a variety of activities that are relaxing and meaningful for the senior in one stage, which can abruptly become less effective and even frustrating for the senior in later stages.
- First of all, keep in mind that activities “with no right or wrong” are in many instances most rewarding. This can consist of anything that brings gratification simply through engagement, without a desired completed outcome or result.
- Also be aware that pastimes and interests the individual has previously enjoyed may now result in aggravation or cause the senior to feel overwhelmed. Making modifications can help. For instance, if the senior was a gifted pianist who is now unable to play, she may find enjoyment in attending a piano recital or listening to favorite music on an iPod.
- Stimulating activities are especially useful 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 advise the following:
- Experiment with a number of art forms – water colors, clay, colored pencils, beads, etc.
- Make a small garden box (or utilize a larger outdoor space if possible) 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 purposeful jobs around the house, according to the senior’s ability level and interest. Folding clothing, wiping off the table, sorting buttons, nuts and bolts, or silverware, sweeping the floor, etc.
- Take out popular family recipes and work together on preparing them; as mentioned above, choosing tasks that are suitable for the senior: rolling out cookie dough, mixing ingredients, and of course taste-testing!
- Reminisce over family pictures and movies.
Spending quality time with a senior loved one helps the family caregiver to unwind as well, and provides the opportunity to create fond new memories together.
For further activity ideas for seniors with dementia, and for the highly skilled and personalized in-home dementia care services that allow family care providers to take time to care for their own needs, contact Compassionate Nursing Services, providers of trusted in home health care in St. Louis, at 314-432-4312.