Alzheimer’s disease is known to be a neurodegenerative disease and not any one of us would want to face the reality that our loved one may be suffering from dementia and require Alzheimer’s care. Alzheimer’s is a form of dementia that affects the memory, speech, emotions and daily activities of our elderly loved ones. This disease is most commonly associated with memory loss, but it also leads to problems with judgment and basic day-to-day functions for that senior individual. Dementia can start as early as the age of 65 although symptoms may occur at an earlier or even later age.
When an elderly family member receives a diagnosis that their loved one may have Alzheimer’s and new or different level of care is required, many families respond with an urgent desire to spend more time with their elderly loved one. This may involve providing some level of care.
When providing elderly care for an Alzheimer’s patient it is important to find creative, healthy activities that also take into consideration their change in mood, thinking, memory, and behavior. This may take some creative thought but if done with an open mind the results can be rewarding for you and your loved one.
Listed below are activities to consider for different stages of care for the Alzheimer’s patient:
- Reminiscing through photos and crafting- In early stages of dementia, sit with your elderly companion and go through old photographs that may be tucked away in boxes. For family members, include the whole family, where each family member can share their own precious memory of the photos. Have your elderly loved one tell their story by cutting themselves from the photo from a crafting project.
Each family member can come up with a word or a phrase that best describes the memory and paste them into a scrap book photo album. You are making a story book of memories spent with your loved ones young and old. This can be used to assist our elderly family member to reconnect with treasured memories even if their health continues to decline. It also serves as being a fun and unforgettable activity spent with our elderly loved one, and provides family members a priceless memory to look back on after our loved one has passed. Crafting can have a meditative effect on someone suffering from dementia and taking part in this activity can be a wise choice.
- Doing puzzles and playing games – Sit down and engage the elderly companion in a large piece puzzle or a game of bingo. Sorting through puzzles pieces to find the right fit and watching the image appear is captivating. A game such as bingo, only involves the skill of identifying letters and numbers. Both a large piece puzzle and a game of bingo provide tangible and visual stimulation which in turn gives our elderly loved one a sense of accomplishment.
- Household tasks – When we are providing elderly care to Alzheimer’s patients we will see their symptoms progress. We need to understand it can be easier for them to engage their mind with sorting tasks. Involve the elderly in light household tasks and daily chores as this can enhance their self-esteem through involvement and participation. Have your elderly family member sort the socks from the laundry by color or assist with setting the table. Always brush off and let go of imperfect results and always offer praise for their efforts.
- Stimulate their senses – In the late stages of Alzheimer’s and the care that is involved, sensory activities will be more appropriate and you will want to reduce and tailor the elderly companion’s activities accordingly. Stimulate the five senses by starting with a casual walk, where they can hear sounds of birds chirping, or stopping by a rose bush and having them stop and smell the roses. Listening to music can be extremely calming or play a song with a catchy melody, as it can be uplifting and may stimulate dancing. Sitting on a soft blanket in the grass while feeling the breeze upon their face or petting the family dog will assist in stimulating their senses.
By providing sensory activities for individuals suffering from Alzheimer’s you are helping them build their self-esteem and creating an environment of and a sense of normalcy.
Family members are often faced with the choice of hiring care givers to provide Alzheimer’s care to their loved ones. By doing so, it can relieve the overwhelming emotional stress that Alzheimer’s or any level of dementia can put on family members caring for their loved ones.