When loved ones are living with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia, families are aware of the challenges. But they also understand that remaining connected to people is essential to achieve quality of life.
There are several advantages of encouraging social engagement, which can include the following benefits:
As the disease progresses, responses and interactions with your loved one may need to be modified. Based on abilities and preferences, what worked yesterday may not work tomorrow, so it’s best for families to be flexible and ready to adapt.
It’s helpful for families to prepare ahead of time when visiting a parent and to have several options available. If you sense your loved one is not enjoying an activity or is becoming anxious or frustrated, try another or wait until the next visit.
The following memory care activities and suggestions can help you successfully spend your time together in a meaningful way:
1. Ask your loved one first
Whenever possible, ask first what your loved one would like to do. You may want to provide a couple of options for them to select, but it’s best not to make it overwhelming. When individuals aren’t able to choose a favorite, consider their past interests or hobbies and try an activity that’s a close match.
2. Spend time outdoors
If the weather is nice, consider whether your loved one would enjoy going for a walk, working in a garden, visiting a park or bird watching. Even sitting quietly in the sun and fresh air can be a meaningful memory care activity.
3. Go for a drive
Would your loved one enjoy a drive through the old neighborhood? Or to witness firsthand the leaves shifting colors – or seeing the green grass and budding trees once the snow has melted? A change of scenery can do wonders for a person’s health and mood.
4. Browse through photo albums
This memory care activity can promote reminiscing as well as spark memories – and stories – from your parent while glimpsing through the past. Just remember not to put them on the spot. If they can’t remember a certain day or someone’s name, move on or fill in the blanks.
5. Offer the healing powers of touch
We all benefit from human touch. There are several ways you can convey feelings of compassion, love and belonging for your loved one. Consider a hand or foot massage with a favorite-scented lotion, a back rub or even simply holding hands.
6. Enjoy a favorite book
While your loved one may no longer be able to read, it can still be pleasant to hear others voice retelling a story from a favorite book. Another memory care activity could include looking through a magazine or other books for pictures of interest or that represent a happy memory.
7. Share the joy of music
Listening to a song from the past can trigger strong memories for many individuals who are living with Alzheimer’s disease. Arrange to play a selection of favorite tunes or play your own musical instrument. Encourage them to sing along and to share any memories that may surface.
8. Encourage stimulating activities
It’s key to make sure you consider the abilities of your loved one before beginning any memory care activity but if appropriate, share memory care activities that will stimulate the brain. You may try bringing in a puzzle with large pieces that you can work on together. Other options could include playing a board game, sorting objects or dancing.
9. Create a memory box
Gather several objects that represent meaningful elements from the past, along with the materials needed to create a memory box. Make it easy for them to open and browse through, even when you’re not there. They can share the contents – and their stories – with other residents or the staff.
10. Spark memories with scents
Another great memory care activity can include scents, which are powerful triggers. Think back to favorite smells from the past, the holidays or special events. Try bringing in herbs and spices, perfumes, scented soaps or lotions and if possible, the wonderful aroma of baking their favorite treats.
If your loved one is living with dementia and you’re searching for ways to provide support for quality of life, we hope you found this list of memory care activities useful.
We also invite you to visit one of our Ingleside communities if you’re searching for the right place to live your best life. We believe you’ll enjoy all the benefits that we offer, including:
We’re here to answer any questions that you may have and also invite you to download our complimentary information – Just the Facts: Your Guide to Memory Care.
For information on Ingleside’s Westminster at Lake Ridge senior living community located in Lake Ridge, Virginia, please call (703) 420-7105 with questions or to schedule a personalized tour today.
For information on Ingleside at King Farm senior living community located in Rockville, Maryland, please call (240) 414-8557 with questions or to schedule a personalized tour today.
For information on Ingleside at Rock Creek senior living community located in Washington, DC, please call (202) 846-2651 with questions or to schedule a personalized tour today.