Continuing to be active and involved in meaningful pursuits is crucial for our mental health. Most of us need to feel both successful and needed. This feeling doesn’t change because of a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, although it may require some creativity to accomplish. In fact, engaging and satisfying activities can reduce difficult symptoms of dementia such as depression, agitation, anxiety, anger, as well as sundowning for Alzheimer’s patients.
The key is discovering activities that are good for the person’s level of cognitive functioning. It’s a matter of identifying what sparks engagement without creating unnecessary stress – something that might require a bit of experimenting.
Test out these suggestions to discover what works well for a senior you love with dementia.
- Go outdoors. Whenever weather permits, simply being outdoors can provide immediate satisfaction and gratification. Pick some fresh flowers and then take a stroll to deliver them to a friend. Read a book aloud or reminisce through a photo album together on the porch. Put up a table with pots, soil, and seedlings, and create a small garden.
- Fold laundry. There is nothing like the scent of laundry that has been hanging outside to dry! Provide the senior with freshly laundered shirts, pillow cases, hand towels, socks, etc. and ask for their assistance in folding.
- Build a memory box. A simple memory box can be created specific to the senior’s interests. For example, a retired carpenter’s box might include nuts, bolts, pieces of PVC pipe, blocks of wood, sandpaper, etc. Someone who loves baking may appreciate looking through a box containing a whisk, cups and spoons, recipe cards, etc. When completed, reminisce with the person about what it was like working with those items. You may be amazed at the stories they share.
- Create decorations. There are lots of hand-crafted decoration ideas during the holidays, but you don’t have to wait until December to start crafting. String big wooden beads or even dry penne pasta into necklaces or bracelets for the grandchildren. Make a scrapbook from photos – or, adorn picture frames to display favorite pictures in a prominent place in the house. The ideas are unlimited – but the purpose is to produce something useful or meaningful.
- Help another in need. If the older adult has been passionate about a certain cause, such as taking care of the homeless or volunteering at the children’s hospital, brainstorm ways that they can still have an impact in that area. Maybe you could collect gloves and scarves for a local shelter, enlisting the senior’s help in sorting and packing them into bags to deliver. Or, make cards together and drop them off for hospitalized children.
At-Home Care Company, providers of dementia care in Altoona and nearby areas, is loaded with all sorts of innovative strategies to help Alzheimer’s patients continue to live purposeful, fulfilling lives. Call us today at 515-292-2650 to schedule a free in-home consultation for more information on how we can help a senior you love.