Engaging and retaining the attention of someone suffering dementia or Alzheimerâ€™s can be a challenging task for caregivers at home. One of the main tips experts offer is to create a standard routine to follow on a daily basis.
Here are some ideas that have proven to be beneficial for people with Alzheimerâ€™s in a community setting and may be helpful at home:
Play music: radio, TV, CDs, sing along with your loved one, play music videos. Music is stored on a side of the brain that never goes away, but it is also often linked to specific memories. Classical music can also be very soothing when someone is having a difficult time.
Usually children (ages 6 to 10) can be a great motivation to older adults with dementia. You can engage children on reading to the person, playing a card game or just talking about things. Little babies and toddlers can take a great amount of stress, but they can be overwhelming at some times, limiting their visits to about 30 minutes can be helpful.
Many seniors grew up and raised their kids going to church. If this activity is no longer accessible, you can read Bible stories to the senior or still sing some church songs that they may remember.
Stimulating senses is very important. Drinking chamomile tea, spraying a little lavender mist on their pillow can be relaxing and help someone sleep better. Rub lotion, put warm soft socks on their feet, a warm towel around their neck — think spa-like activities.
Artmaking can help them express themselves as well as entertain for a bit. Craft stores like Michaelâ€™s have pre-traced canvas that seniors and children together can color. There are also many adult coloring books out there in the market.
Here are some tips to implement when trying to do activities with seniors:
* Encourage, not force someone to participate in activities.
* Activities must be initiated by others.
* Activities should stimulate all five senses.
* Activities should be adult nature and preserve their dignity.
*Activities can be short.
* Activities you think will never work on your loved one sometimes do.
Doing something is better than doing nothing Most communities with memory care offer short term, respite stays and day stay. If doing these activities are difficult for you at home, a community can help you engage your loved one and give them great quality of life.
Sandra Cook, who wrote this article, is the community liaison for Aegis Lodge in Kirkland.