Choosing activities to help a loved one stay focused and engaged
Memory problems can have a devastating impact on a person’s confidence. Frustration, loss of motivation, and anxiousness can all too quickly lead to people withdrawing from activities and social groups they previously enjoyed.
Yet it is at exactly this point that social engagement and activities to stimulate both mind and body become more important than ever to keep life purposeful and ward off depression.
Loved ones can play a vital role in providing not only encouragement, but also having a detailed knowledge of the person’s likes and dislikes, identification of which are likely to be the key to success.
Most activities can be modified to make them accessible in some shape or form. The Alzheimer’s Association in America has provided some tips which we hope will help.
In the early stages of dementia, the person may withdraw from activities he or she previously enjoyed. It is important to help the person remain engaged. Having an open discussion around any concerns and making slight adjustments can make a difference. For example, a large social gathering may be overwhelming, but the person may be able to interact more successfully in smaller groups.
As Alzheimer’s progresses, you may need to make other adjustments to the activity. Use the following tips:
- Keep the person’s skills and abilities in mind.
A person with dementia may be able to play simple songs learned on the piano years ago. Bring these types of skills into daily activities.
- Pay special attention to what the person enjoys.
- Take note when the person seems happy, anxious, distracted or irritable. Some people enjoy watching sports, while others may be frightened by the pace or noise.
- Consider if the person begins activities without direction.
Does he or she set the table before dinner or sweep the kitchen floor mid-morning? If so, you may wish to plan these activities as part of the daily routine.
- Be aware of physical problems.
Does he or she get tired quickly or have difficulty seeing, hearing or performing simple movements?
- Focus on enjoyment, not achievement.
Find activities that build on remaining skills and talents. A professional artist might become frustrated over the declining quality of work, but an amateur might enjoy a new opportunity for self expression.
- Encourage involvement in daily life.
Activities that help the individual feel like a valued part of the household — like setting the table — can provide a sense of success and accomplishment.
- Relate to past work life.
A former office worker might enjoy activities that involve organizing, like putting coins in a holder or making a to-do list. A farmer or gardener may take pleasure in working in the yard.
- Look for favourites.
The person who always enjoyed drinking coffee and reading the newspaper may still find these activities enjoyable, even if he or she is not able to completely understand what the newspaper says.
- Consider time of day.
Caregivers may find they have more success with certain activities at specific times of day, such as bathing and dressing in the morning.
- Adjust activities to disease stages.
As the disease progresses, you may want to introduce more repetitive tasks. Be prepared for the person to eventually take a less active role in activities.
These tips were produced by the Alzheimer’s Association in the USA. For further information visit their website or click on the link here- www.alz.org/care/overview.asp