December 9, 2015

Senior couple stay active with JengaAs our loved ones move through the stages of Alzheimer’s disease (or any type of dementia), their abilities to perform everyday activities lessen, despite their need to keep busy and to feel useful or productive. As a result, finding ways to engage a frail, elderly loved one in enriching activities can be a challenge.

If you’re facing this now, you know that each stage of Alzheimer’s presents its own unique obstacles. The first obstacle may be keeping your loved one interested in an activity – even one that was a favorite hobby at one time. Another problem may be finding an activity that fits her physical ability. Reading, for example, may have been a passion when she was younger. But if her eyesight is failing and her comprehension limited, reading may become too difficult. This can be particularly frustrating if she remembers that this activity was something she enjoyed doing. And yet, activities are important, because they can help minimize disruptive behaviors and emotions.

Here are eight tips and suggestions that may increase the chances of successfully engaging your loved one with Alzheimer’s:

  • Keep his current abilities and limitations in mind when choosing an activity.
  • Be mindful of the time of day you want her to do the activity. Most people with Alzheimer’s react very differently to directions in the evening, as compared to the morning.
  • Keep the focus of the activity on the enjoyment of it. It’s the experience that’s important, not the end result.
  • Provide simple instructions one task at a time, and offer support as needed – but don’t take over.
  • Stress a sense of purpose in the activity, the reason why you’re doing it. For example, say that you’d like to send a special thank you card to someone and then invite him to join you.
  • Substitute an activity for a behavior. If she is rubbing her hand on a table, give her a cloth to hold and encourage her to wipe the table. Or, if he is moving his feet on the floor, play some music so he can tap them to the beat.
  • If something isn’t working, it may just be the wrong time of day or the activity may be too complicated. Try again later, or adapt the activity.
  • Be mindful of the time. Keep the activities short because his attention span may be limited.

Keeping your loved one active, even for short periods of time, is good for both of you, but at Continuum we understand that it isn’t always easy. We can help you. Our skilled and reliable caregivers provide in-home care services that range from companion care and personal care services to skilled nursing care. Our senior home care services team is specially trained in dementia care, and provides a wealth of resources to help families navigate the Alzheimer’s journey.

Call us at (314) 863-9912 or (636) 861-3336 or fill out our web form to learn about our home care services in St. Louis and St. Charles Counties.