Filling the days with meaning can be a challenge for someone who has dementia. They may not know what they are supposed to do next. Your loved one may lose the ability to initiate activity, or to follow through on the sequence of steps necessary to complete a task. They may need your help to complete the activities of daily living, as well as the past-times and hobbies they have always enjoyed.
How do you step in and provide the stimulation that is important for your loved one’s quality of life? What can you do with a person who is living with brain changes, and has different abilities than they used to have?
Think about the person. What have they always enjoyed doing? What were their hobbies? What was their occupation? What was important to them? Make a list of everything you can think of that will help bring meaning to their day.
If the person always enjoyed a walk around the block, take them outside, for a short jaunt down the sidewalk, or to the local park to watch the children in the playground. If they were an avid reader, have lots of books around, even if they can no longer read. The feel of a book in their hands may be familiar and comforting to them. Were they a gourmet cook? Spend time with them in the kitchen looking at pictures in cookbooks, smelling the spices, and planning a grocery list. Assist them to complete simple recipes with your step-by-step guidance.
Here are some other ideas to consider:
Arts and crafts – Did your loved one have an artistic streak? Provide them with a creative outlet, and spend time together coloring or completing a simple craft. There is a wide variety of craft kits available at the dollar stores, as well as adult coloring books which are immensely popular, inexpensive, and available in a range of themes.
Puzzles – Puzzles are a popular past-time and it is easy to find options for different levels of abilities. There are even puzzles available online where you can drag and drop pieces into place, and websites where you can get custom puzzles made from photos of the person’s family or favorite place.
Reading the newspaper or magazines – Did your loved one always stay current with local news? Continue to have the daily newspaper delivered as part of the person’s routine. Read the headlines, show them the pictures, and create conversation around articles that will be of interest to them. Ask their opinion on matters.
Activity boxes – Many people with dementia like to rummage through the closet or dresser drawers. Provide them with a special box of items to sort through, look at and touch.
Filling the day with meaning doesn’t have to be overwhelming. It just requires a little effort and creativity on your part to help your loved one continue to enjoy the people, places, and things that have always brought them joy.
Questions? Need help? Takacs McGinnis Elder Care Law may be able to assist. Just give us a call at 615.824.2571.