Planning outings or activities for our loved ones that live with Alzheimer’s and Dementia can seem like a challenging task. Although it can present its own set of obstacles, living with dementia does not mean one no longer has preferences or interests, likes or dislikes. It just means we have another chance to understand what our loved one might enjoy at this point in their life, which although they may experience it differently, still might be similar to things they’ve enjoyed before.
The first step to planning activities for our loved one is to listen and communicate with them. You can read more about effective communication for dementia on our blog. Below, we discuss tactics to keep in mind when planning so you can show up fresh and have a good time that you will both enjoy.
Being patient and seeking to understand our loved one at this point in their life is the first, and most important step to effective planning.
Setting the environment
Be sure to minimize any distractions that may make it hard for them to focus; TV, radio, etc. But even in setting a good environment, it’s still possible they may get confused or begin repeating themselves. Do your best to be patient with them, their behavior isn’t intended and they are probably equally as frustrated as you are. Be kind, clear, respectful and keep eye contact. Utilizing humor and positivity is always a plus!
Although having Alzheimer’s and Dementia makes it hard to recall recent memories or events, it’s often easier for them to recall long-term memories. Bringing items, photos, or scrapbooks, to remind them of memories from their past they are fond can bring them great joy. Go through the items and discuss the significances and memories of them.
In addition to nostalgia - activities, hobbies, and skills that they used to enjoy (again, longer term) can also be a great way to enjoy time with your loved one.
Listening to their favorite songs or albums, favorite books, sewing or knitting, building something, or playing specific games like cards, bingo, checkers, or chess are all just a few ideas.
Bringing old cookbooks or recipes is also another way to jog their memory and bring past joy to your loved one. Cooking a recipe or meal they used to love is another great activity option.
Going out for a walk, getting fresh air, and being in nature is another great way to spend time with your loved one. Walking often sparks conversations, but could also be a way to just be one with nature; listening to birds, looking at flowers and trees, getting a breath of fresh air, and soaking up some good Vitamin D.
There are plenty of ways to spend quality time together, but most importantly, remember this isn’t easy for anyone. Continue to practice patience, effective communication, and taking care of your own health.
If you think memory care assisted living may be the next step, do not hesitate to speak with one of our eldercare advisors: 573-544-0756.