Has someone in your family or a friend been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia? As a progressive illness, you may be aware that behavior and abilities will continue to decline, requiring adaptation to stay connected.
It can be helpful to find different activities to try but you’ll also want to be flexible when you’re interacting with someone with Alzheimer’s. What they enjoyed one day may not work the next. But the importance of your relationship should always remain a priority.
It would be a mistake to assume that those living with dementia are no longer able to interact meaningfully with others or that they don’t recognize any of the benefits.
Among the advantages of social connection, the following advantages also may include:
Improved quality of life
Reduction in anxiety and agitation
Increased feelings of belonging
Creating joyful moments in their lives
Improved ability to relax
Increased feelings of acceptance from others
One of the hallmark symptoms of Alzheimer’s is the eventual loss of communication. Their challenge with memory and loss of words will increase as the illness progresses. Based on the individual and the level of illness they are experiencing, you may notice a few of these common difficulties:
Struggling to find the right words
Repeating familiar words
Describing familiar objects rather than calling them by name
Losing their train of thought more easily
Difficulty organizing words logically
Reverting to a native language
Speaking less often
Relying more on gestures than speaking
Source: Alzheimer’s Association
If your loved one is finding it more difficult to have a conversation, activities are a wonderful substitute. They can allow you to share time together without the pressure of needing to speak.
Being prepared is a great tip when planning a visit. Consider a few of these activity ideas and try a couple to see what might work best or which one your loved one might enjoy:
Start with a box that is light enough for your loved one to open on their own and bring in objects that are meaningful. You may want to consider having a theme. It could represent their family, career, sport preferences or favorite pastimes. You can also create more than one box.
Your loved one may enjoy working together on a puzzle. Make sure the pieces are large enough to easily pick up and that the picture is simple and not complicated. You might want to create your own puzzle with a family photo that you can have printed and laminated. Cut into a few pieces.
Looking through photos from the past can often trigger memories that your loved one may have. Although new memories are often inaccessible, those from long ago may still be retrieved in the earlier stages of Alzheimer’s. Share stories and ask simple questions but don’t put the individual on the spot.
Especially nice for those who loved planting vegetables or flowers in the springtime, you can encourage your loved one to get their hands dirty. A community may also have a small garden that residents can access. You can even bring in pots and flowers and give container gardening a try.
Music is powerful and also a great trigger to reach emotions or tap into old memories. A favorite song can help recall a treasured day or time in the past, person or a special occasion. Choose a quiet spot to listen together and encourage them if they loved to sing. You may be surprised that they still remember the lyrics.
Nature provides the perfect setting to relax and spend time together without needing words. If the weather is nice, go for a walk or sit outside in the sunshine. You can people-watch, stop and smell the flowers or just enjoy the fresh air. Being outside can have a calming or restorative effect.
A great way to convey how much your loved one means to you is by the simple act of touch. If this is something they would enjoy, try giving a hand or foot massage with lotion or oils. Manicures and pedicures are special. Even brushing someone’s hair can feel luxurious.
Memory care activities: keys for success
Choose activities that you think your loved one will enjoy.
Be flexible and attentive. If you notice any anxiety or agitation, try another activity.
Everyone has good and not-so-good days. If your loved one appears uncomfortable, you may need to try another day.
When possible, tie in the activity with a past interest or hobby
Keep the activity simple and not frustrating
We understand the importance of connection for those living with Alzheimer’s. As conversations may become more difficult or even if there are times when they may not remember family members, friends or special moments, they can still appreciate the feelings of being engaged and cared for.
If you’re caring for a loved one at home, the question of whether or when it may be time for memory care often surfaces as the illness progresses. If you find yourself searching for the right answer, we hope you’ll consider Ingleside at King Farm Memory Support Assisted Living.
We are a trusted resource and assure you that we are committed to providing the most compassionate care, while supporting and encouraging our residents’ quality of life and independence.
We provide a safe and loving environment for both your loved one and your family. Not only do we offer a whole-person approach to our residents, our services and amenities also include:
Intimate and secure residential neighborhoods
Individual therapy and wellness programs
Licensed nursing staff 24/7 educated in best practices in dementia care
All-day dining with chef-inspired meals and stocked kitchens
Social integration with others in the greater community
Family support and education
Please visit our website or call (240) 414-8557 if you have any questions or would like to schedule a personalized tour today.