Alzheimer’s disease, or dementia, is a disorder that gradually causes a decline in a person’s ability to perform their daily tasks appropriately. The initial signs of Alzheimer’s include failing to retain the memory of recent events and social interactions. Patients with Alzheimer’s may face severe signs of forgetfulness as the disease progresses and this may hinder their ability to carry out everyday activities.
Alzheimer’s disease is not completely curable. The signs can only be managed with proper medications. Patients with Alzheimer’s need to be given constant care and attention to ward off any social withdrawal symptoms that happen as a result of the disease. Involvement in activities and interactions by the caregivers and close relatives may help to reduce the effects of memory impairment. We have created a list of a few fun and healthy activities that may help you in developing a stronger bond and a happier environment for your loved one dealing with dementia.
Let them talk:
Everyone loves recalling memories from the past! Good or bad, talking about the past is a way of self-expression very vital when it comes to people with Alzheimer’s. Ask them about what they loved doing the most in life; ask them about their cherishable memory, favorite pastime or their interests and hobbies. Let them express themselves in the manner they see fit.
Go out on a walk with them:
A walk along with talk has always been a good therapy in any illness. According to a study exhibited at the 96th Scientific Assembly and Annual Meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA), “Walking five miles per week protects the brain structure over 10 years in people with Alzheimer’s disease and MCI (Mild Cognitive Impairment), especially in areas of the brain’s key memory and learning centers,” said Cyrus Raji, PhD. “We also found that these people had a slower decline in memory loss over five years.” Dr Raji is from the Department of Radiology at the University of Pittsburgh. Set a time in the day to take them out on a stroll and also, utilize this time to delve into a conversation with them. Help them to be more open to you regarding their interests and hobbies.
Working out/Doing yoga:
Researchers say that regular exercise can slow down the further weakening in people who have already started showing signs of cognitive impairment. Get them enrolled in a workout program suitable for their age. Yoga, on the other hand, is also known to promote calmness and it can be helpful for people living with dementia. Yoga also incorporates breathing exercises that are known to reduce anxiety, improve concentration and relax body and mind.
Bake or cook:
Cooking can make patients with Alzheimer’s disease feel more engaged with life. Setting up cooking or baking activities can help them relive their past life. Alzheimer patients tend to give up on things that once made them happy such as cooking, involving them in such activities will bring about a sense of self and purpose. Cooking is also a basic need of daily living and keeping patients in touch with it can make sure a prolonged independent life for them.
Take up knitting:
Knitting has been an interest of today’s older generation. It is also a ‘cognitive activity’. Cognitive skills are used to comprehend process, remember and apply information received; hence, knitting can help sharpen the slowing down mental cognition of dementia patients.
Get them a pet:
People with Alzheimer’s are known to develop depression and animal-assisted therapy is known to alleviate mood in such patients. Buying them a pet and assisting them in taking care of it is a fun activity to alleviate their moods!
Board games or puzzles:
Cognitively challenging games provide the mental stimulation needed to slow down the depletion of brain cells in Alzheimer patients. Puzzles specifically made for dementia patients can be very helpful in bettering their cognitive skills and also, in bringing back their lost interest in life. Board games provide an opportunity for a fun interactive session that can also help reduce further deterioration of the patient’s brain.
Tending to the lawn has long been known to be a therapeutic activity for a healthy brain. Plants release oxygen which helps in the better functioning of the brain. Time spent in gardening can give the patients an enjoyable activity to look forward to, alleviate their mood and push away any feelings of anxiety and depression.
Invite them to social gatherings:
The diagnosis of Alzheimer’s can result in people staying aloof and becoming socially distant. One way to make them feel accepted and loved is to make them a part of social gatherings where they feel understood and are not embarrassed by their condition. Having children and grand-children around them can make elderly patients very happy!
What is better than to have something to keep notes of your activities when you are so prone to forgetting things as minute as the last conversation? Journaling helps people with dementia keep a record of what they did, what they plan to do etc. It gives them a device to store any information their brain might fail to retain. Daily journaling can also be used to encourage such patients to express their feelings by writing them down.
Make the home/residence dementia friendly:
Keeping things simple and hassle-free around a house for a dementia patient creates a safe space for easy moving. Labeling cupboards and cabinets for what is inside them, putting tags of what is where could be very helpful in reducing their dependence when carrying out daily tasks. A friendly environment with independent life will create a sense of self-worth and reduce the agitation and frustration that builds up by having to depend on caregivers for mere simple tasks.
Conclusion: Most importantly, patients with Alzheimer’s or dementia need acceptance and love. Inclusion is of the utmost importance when dealing with an Alzheimer’s patient. Countering their behavior of social aloofness and making them feel comfortable in their surroundings by giving them a sense of acceptance is basically what creates a happier and healthier Alzheimer’s patient.