Creative Activities For Seniors With Dementia
Tailoring activities based on a seniors talents and interests is helpful, says Niki Gewirtz, a Senior Living Advisor at A Place for Mom and former executive director of a memory care community. She enjoyed getting to know residents hobbies before they came to memory care and using that information to personalize activities.
Think back or ask relatives and friends about your loved ones passions and strengths. Then, encourage them to do similar things.
How The Disease Affects The Brain
Physiologically, dementia and/or Alzheimers affects various parts of the brain, specifically, it affects the brain in such a way that people have a difficult time learning new information. This is why, for a long time into the disease, patients and/or loved ones can remember things that happened a long time ago. They can remember wedding dates, the war they fought in, where they went to high schoolbut they can’t remember the visit that they had with their daughter yesterday. This is because the disease affects certain parts of the brainthe temporal lobeswhich are responsible for helping us learn new things.
The reason theyre able to hold onto the memories that happened a long time ago is that those memories are represented throughout the brain. Long-term memories don’t require just one or two areas of the brainthey’re probably represented in multiple systemsso the disease has to be quite advanced before patients and/or loved ones start losing those memories.
In the brain of someone with dementia and/or Alzheimer’s, there are actual holes in the brain that form. In an image of an Alzheimer’s brain, one can see where many of the brain cells have diedand it affects every area of the brain.
Allow An Emotional Outlet
For many people, music or contact with babies, children or animals provides positive feelings. Excellent memories of past events are often kept and looking through old photos, memorabilia and books enables the recall of earlier times. The opportunity to relive treasured moments can be deeply satisfying. If reading skills have deteriorated make individual audiotapes. Locate picture books and magazines in the persons areas of interest.
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Ten Tips For Communicating With A Person With Dementia
We arenât born knowing how to communicate with a person with dementiaâbut we can learn. Improving your communication skills will help make caregiving less stressful and will likely improve the quality of your relationship with your loved one. Good communication skills will also enhance your ability to handle the difficult behavior you may encounter as you care for a person with a dementing illness.
Be Patient While Trying To Help Someonewith Dementia Not Eating
Trying to convince a person living with dementia who is at the point of not eating, that they must eat is counterproductive. Trying to explain why is also detrimental.
You need to be the food guide. Your role as the guide is to show this person how to eat each and every bite, just like its the first time they have ever eaten. Keep using strong eye contact and a nice big smile and not disrupt the person by talking.
It can be frustrating when you are trying to help someone and it is not working as effectively as you may hope. Its like teaching a child to tie their shoelaces, or of course, to eat their vegetables!
They will watch how you do it and slowly copy, but if you dont show them a demonstration they are not going to be able to learn. If you find yourself becoming agitated, take a deep breathe, and have another try.
If your relative with dementia becomes agitated or frustrated in the afternoon and evening, this may be due to ‘sundowning’. Find out more about what it is and how you can manage it from our sundowning guide.
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Should You Tell The Person They Have Alzheimer’s
Families may frequently ask, Should I tell the person that he/she has Alzheimer’s? Keep in mind that the patient and/or loved one can’t reason. They don’t have enough memory to remember the question, then think it through to form a conclusion. Caregivers and/or family members may often think if they tell the person with memory loss that he/she has Alzheimer’s, then he/she will understand and cooperate. You cant get cooperation by explaining that he/she has the disease and expect him/her to remember and use that information.
Dont Ask A Person With Short
A patient and/or loved one can construe even the simplest of conversation starters as a real question, but they honestly dont know the answer to it. This can be embarrassing and can send them back into a fogthey try their best to give an answer that makes sense to them and often produce immediate physical concerns: I’m having a lot of pain, for example. A caregiver and/or family member might ask, What did you have for breakfast? and the person with memory loss doesn’t remember at all. They might say earnestly, I haven’t had anything to eat for weeks, . So these are questions to avoid because it causes fear for the person, that they have failed. But there are things you can talk about
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Tips For A Healthy And Active Lifestyle For People With Dementia
Eating healthy and staying active is good for everyone and is especially important for people with Alzheimers and related dementias. As the disease progresses, finding ways for the person to eat healthy foods and stay active may be increasingly challenging. Here are some tips that may help:
- Consider different activities the person can do to stay active, such as household chores, cooking and baking, exercise, and gardening. Match the activity to what the person can do.
- Help get an activity started or join in to make the activity more fun. People with dementia may lack interest or initiative and can have trouble starting activities. But, if others do the planning, they may join in.
- Add music to exercises or activities if it helps motivate the person. Dance to the music if possible.
- Be realistic about how much activity can be done at one time. Several short mini-workouts may be best.
- Take a walk together each day. Exercise is good for caregivers, too!
- Buy a variety of healthy foods, but consider food that is easy to prepare, such as premade salads and single portions.
- Give the person choices about what to eat, for example, Would you like yogurt or cottage cheese?
Supporting A Person With Dementia
The way a person with dementia feels and experiences life is down to more than just having the condition.
There are many other factors aside from the symptoms of dementia that play a huge role in shaping someone’s experience. These include the relationships the person has, their environment and the support they receive.
Personal relationships and someone’s social environment are central to life, regardless of age or mental ability. People can recognise this by being as supportive as possible. Carers, friends and family, can help a person with dementia to feel valued and included. Support should be sensitive to the person as an individual, and focus on promoting their wellbeing and meeting their needs.
When supporting a person with dementia, it can be helpful for carers to have an understanding of the impact the condition has on that person. This includes understanding how the person might think and feel, as these things will affect how they behave.
The person may be experiencing a world that is very different to that of the people around them. It will help if the carer offers support while trying to see things from the perspective of the person with dementia, as far as possible.
Each person is unique, with their own life history, personality, likes and dislikes. It is very important to focus on what the person still does have, not on what they may have lost. It is also important to focus on what the person feels rather than what they remember.
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Helping A Person With Dementia
If you’re a carer or friend of a person with a dementia, there are different ways to support them in their everyday life.
You can help by:
- remembering they are still the person and friend you may have known for a long time
- including them in group conversations
- asking them their opinion and not assuming you know what they want
- offering your support, they may not feel confident enough to approach you and may need your help
- being sensitive, for example, understanding and supporting their approach to living with the condition
- remembering they can still do the same things as you with a little help
Avoid Arguing About Whether They Are Already Home’
For a person with dementia, the term ‘home’ may describe something more than the place they currently live. Often when a person with dementia asks to go home it refers to the sense of home rather than home itself.
Home may represent memories of a time or place that was comfortable and secure and where they felt relaxed and happier. It could also be an indefinable place that may not physically exist.
Its best not to disagree with the person or try to reason with them about wanting to go home.
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Try Diverting The Conversation
Keep a photograph album handy. Sometimes looking at pictures from their past and being given the chance to reminisce will ease feelings of anxiety. It might be best to avoid asking questions about the picture or the past, instead trying to make comments: ‘That looks like Uncle Fred. Granny told me about the time he….’
Alternatively, you could try diverting them with food, music, or other activities, such as a walk.
Remember: Your Needs As A Caregiver Matter Too
Dealing with dementia behaviors can quickly wear out a caregiver or family member, causing caregiver burnout.
If your loved ones dementia behaviors have progressed to the point where you cannot manage them alone, help is available. Senior care options like home care or memory care can help relieve some of the caregiving burden while also helping to keep your loved one safe.
If you are feeling resentment, anxiety, or depression, seek help. A caregiver support group, counselor, friend, or family member can offer camaraderie and advice.
Other families, other caregivers, are going through the same thing, Hashmi says. They have a lot of common challenges and common solutions to share. And often those are the most effective, because theyre going through exactly the same process.
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Exercise And Outdoor Activities
Support For Dementia Caregivers At The End Of Life
Caring for people with Alzheimers or other dementias at home can be demanding and stressful for the family caregiver. Depression is a problem for some family caregivers, as is fatigue, because many feel they are always on call. Family caregivers may have to cut back on work hours or leave work altogether because of their caregiving responsibilities.
Many family members taking care of a person with advanced dementia at home feel relief when death happensfor themselves and for the person who died. It is important to realize such feelings are normal. Hospicewhether used at home or in a facility gives family caregivers needed support near the end of life, as well as help with their grief, both before and after their family member dies.
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A Person With Dementia Doesnt Always Fit Into One Stage
Dementia affects each person in a unique way and changes different parts of the brain at different points in the disease progression.
Plus, different types of dementia tend to have different symptoms.
For example, someone with frontotemporal dementia may first show extreme behavior and personality changes. But someone with Alzheimers disease would first experience short-term memory loss and struggle with everyday tasks.
Researchers and doctors still dont know enough about how these diseases work to predict exactly what will happen.
Another common occurrence is for someone in the middle stages of dementia to suddenly have a clear moment, hour, or day and seem like theyre back to their pre-dementia abilities. They could be sharp for a little while and later, go back to having obvious cognitive impairment.
When this happens, some families may feel like their older adult is faking their symptoms or just isnt trying hard enough.
Its important to know that this isnt true, its truly the dementia thats causing their declining abilities as well as those strange moments of clarity theyre truly not doing it on purpose.
Do Not Try And Alter Undesirable Behavior
Lack of understanding may push one to try and change or stop any undesirable behavior from patients who have dementia. Keep in mind that it is almost impossible to teach new skills or even reason with the patient. Try instead to decrease frequency or intensity of the behavior. For instance, respond to emotion and not the changes in behavior. If a patient insists on always asking about a particular family member reassure them that he or she is safe and healthy as a way of keeping them calm and happy.
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Dont Stop Visiting Just Because You Think They Wont Remember
Do you sometimes feel like it’s not worth it to spend time visiting your loved one? Think again. Even if they aren’t able to remember that you visited, research shows that the feelings you create remain far longer than the duration of your visit.
Those feelings can shape the rest of their day by influencing how they respond to others, how they feel, even how they eat. Be encouraged that your visit has more lasting power than you think. Remember that there are times when you will be enriched by your time together as well.
How To Deal With Dementia Behavior Problems
- How to Deal with Dementia Behavior Problems: 19 Dos and Donts
Dementia is a disease that affects millions of people across the globe every year. It is often a highly misunderstood condition that is marred by numerous misconceptions, which make the condition difficult to understand and study.
You should know that dementia is not a name for an illness, rather it is a collective term that describes a broad range of symptoms that relate to declining of thinking, memory, and cognitive skills. These symptoms have deteriorating effects that usually affect how a patient acts and engages in the day-to-day activities.
In advanced dementia stages, affected persons may experience symptoms that bring out a decline in rational thought, intellect, social skills, memory, and normal emotional reactivity. It is something that can make them powerless when it comes to living normal, healthy lives.
Relatives, caregivers, spouses, siblings, children and anyone close to a person who has dementia need to know how to deal with behavioral problems that surface because of the illness. Examples of dementia problems may include aggressiveness, violence and oppositional behaviors. Find out some of the vital Do and Donts when dealing with a dementia patient.
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