Please join us at the Senior Health and Wellness Expo on April 6th from 10am-2pm at the Langdon Place of Dover. There will be many great vendors offering freebees, refreshments, offers, and great information on goods and services available to Seniors. Stop by and see our booth, meet some of our staff, take a moment to do our free Alzheimer's and Dementia Screening Test, and enter for a chance to win our beautiful gift bag! See you there!
Connecting with others is at the core of being human - and it's something that doesn't change when a person has dementia. We're often asked what are good activities for dementia patients. It's important to know that there are many ways you can continue to form connections and strengthen bonds with your loved one during this time.
12 WAYS TO MAKE A CONNECTION
People with dementia often return to long-term memories of childhood. Their minds seem to only recall their younger years, and this is often where connections can be made. The next time you visit with your loved one, try one or more of the following activities to create a connection with them:
- Create a Memory Bag
- Fill the bag with items reminiscent of their late teens/early twenties. Scented products work well for this, as scents are strongly tied to memory. Try including soap, perfumes and aftershave, or holiday scents like gingerbread, pine and peppermint.
- Look Through Photo Albums
- Photo albums with pictures from their childhood or young adulthood are best for this. Old periodicals are another good option, particularly those that include many photos such as Life or Time magazines.
- Read Out Loud
- If your loved one has a favorite book, read it out loud to them and let them hold the book and feel the pages. Encourage them to enjoy the distinctive "old book smell." Reading aloud works especially well with poetry, as the cadence of the words are familiar and calming.
- Listen to a Playlist of Favorite Music
- Download songs or set up radio to stream that features music from their teenage years. Many internet radio stations include everything from classic rock to big band sounds, their favorite music should be easy to find.
- Sing Old Songs
- If they grew up going to church, sing old hymns with them. If it's around the holidays, sing holiday carols or other special songs. Class sing-a-longs and music classes were much more common in schools prior to the electronic age. You might be surprised at what songs your loved ones know and remember from elementary school.
- Watch Old Movies and TV Shows
- Did your parents grow up watching westerns like Gunsmoke or family dramas such as My Three Sons? Perhaps they were more interested in musicals like "The King and I" or "Singing in the Rain." You can find many favorite movies and shows from the 40s, 50s and 60s on Netflix or other streaming services.
- Go on a Nature Walk
- Use nature to integrate sensory experiences into conversation. Listen to birdsong, touch the wet grass, smell the roses and feel the sunshine on your shoulders. Ask what their favorite outdoor activities were during their youth and try to safely recreate similar scenarios if possible.
- Look Through Old Cookbooks
- In the past, women spent a great deal of their teenage years learning to cook and young adult years cooking for their families. Discuss origins and variations on old family recipes, or better yet, cook with those old family recipes and share the results with your loved ones.
- Enjoy Favorite Treats
- Look for candy or other indulgences that were commonplace when your loved one was young. Many companies specialize in nostalgic candy where you can buy old favorites like horehound candy and soft peppermint sticks. Even simple things, like an orange, can be a treat to someone who remembers when you only had them during holidays.
- Visit and Connect with Animals
- People who grew up on farms may enjoy an outing to a petting zoo or family farm where they can touch and talk to horses and other farm animals. Ask questions about animals, old pets, or what it was like to grow up on a farm. This is a great activity to involve grandchildren in, since many kids today are not familiar with farms.
- Reminisce Over Childhood Toys
- Nothing elicits childhood memories like familiar old toys. Erector sets, kewpie dolls, sock monkeys and marbles were some of the most popular toys during the 40s and 50s. There are many websites dedicated to antique toys. If you have any old toys available, bring them when you visit, ask questions about how they were played with, or, in the case of construction toys, build something together.
- Bring Back Old Skills
- Did your loved one quilt, crochet or knit? Put a homemade quilt or skein of yarn in their hands and let them feel the weight of the quilt and the scratchiness of the yarn. You may be surprised to find that your loved one can still crochet or knit a little bit, even though they have serious memory or cognitive deficits. Often, the muscles remember what the brain has forgotten.
Your loved one may be different than the person you have always known, but they still long for connection and companionship. You can encourage that connection by using these activities to enrich both of your lives.
Recognizing early signs of dementia is often difficult. Early diagnosis is important however, for the earlier dementia is diagnosed by a physician the more treatable it may be. The difficulty with diagnosing dementia is many of the early stage signs of dementia and Alzheimer’s are similar to normal aging. These signs can also be stress related or brought on by depression. To be familiar with the differences between normal memory loss associated with aging, and memory loss caused by dementia is important. While dementia is not a disease in itself, it describes a group of symptoms often associated with a disease or condition, such as Alzheimer’s disease.
A preliminary assessment can determine orientation to person, place, and time. Standard questions asked are: “What is your name?” “Where are you?” and “What time is it?” Although common in health care practice, these questions are not sufficient to determine dementia. Close family members, who know the loved one well, are often better equipped to determine if the persons’ orientation is “normal” for them. Sometimes family may be in denial, believing what is not normal to be normal aging. For these reasons we recommend family accompanying their loved ones to the physician. Below is a list to help you to recognize the early stage signs of dementia. Patience and a caring spirit are always best for you and your loved one.
If your loved one has any of these signs it is best to talk to your physician.
Memory loss is the most common sign of dementia. Occasional memory loss may be a normal part of aging, but memory loss that is frequent and disrupts normal living is not. For example; if someone cannot remember the names of those closest to them, or where common things are located.
Difficulty with familiar everyday tasks can be a sign of the early stages of dementia. This can include having trouble with personal care, cooking, cleaning, or using the telephone.
Language difficulties may develop as an early warning sign of dementia. Showing difficulty in finding the right words, participating less in conversations, and having difficulty saying what is meant can all be language and communication issues related to dementia.
Disorientation with familiar surroundings, such as in their own neighborhood or home, is often caused by a dementia related condition.
Abstract thinking and solving problems may become difficult or impossible with dementia. They may have trouble following a recipe or keeping track of monthly bills.
Poor decision making and lacking sound judgment even when the correct choice should be obvious is a sign. For example, choices such as lack of warm clothing in the snow.
Misplacing things by putting them in inappropriate places is a common sign. Such as putting the telephone in the refrigerator.
Changes in mood, behavior, or personality, is a common, and challenging sign of dementia. They may become depressed, anxious, frightened, irritable, or even aggressive.
Coffee and Conversation with Abundant Blessings Homecare
Here is a video we put together to help anyone who is trying to detect the early stages and signs of Dementia.