Posts Tagged ‘entertainment’

Entertaining People With Alzheimer’s – The Simpler, the Better

Sunday, June 29th, 2014

Simple pleasures can indeed bring great joy to people living with Alzheimer’s. Often the activities can be based on something that brought pleasure to the person before getting Alzheimer’s. Here’s a little story that can serve as an example.

When I went to visit Ed one day, I realized I’d forgotten to bring any ‘props’ for the visit. Usually I brought something to amuse Ed such as a new stuffed animal, a book with colorful pictures, some of my photographs, a CD with classical music or something like that.

Those things engaged his mind, to the extent that was still possible, and gave us a focal point for interacting.

Suddenly I realized I was wearing a coat with numerous pockets I was sure he would love to explore. I thought the fact that he enjoyed exploring pockets and compartments in clothing, purses or brief cases so much was somehow related to his life-long fixation on ‘luggages’ and his love of exploring all their different compartments.

He spent 30 minutes gleefully exploring all the pockets in the coat. Then he smiled at me and told me twice how happy he was that I had such a wonderful coat. I was touched that that wonderful demented man was happy for me.

That was so typical of Ed. Instead of saying how happy he was to play with the coat, he said how happy he was that I had it. As I left I felt loved. I also felt deeply gratified I’d been able to bring him so much happiness with a simple coat. Just a simple coat with a few pockets.

 

Is Alzheimer’s Always Depressing? I Think Not

Saturday, March 29th, 2014

Alzheimer’s is considered a deadly serious disease and deservedly so. But I ask this: Does being ‘serious’ mean that it is horrible and depressing? Yes, it can be horrible and depressing. But is it always that way? I think not. I think to some extent at some times it depends on the attitude of the beholder. Let me illustrate with two hypothetical vignettes.

John is distraught when he visits his wife, Jean. First of all, he finds the facility per se depressing. While walking to his wife’s room, he passes several residents sitting in wheel chairs. Most are either staring into space or else their heads are hanging down and they appear to be dozing. What a waste of human life, he thinks.

Worse still is his wife’s condition. She can’t bathe or dress herself. She needs help eating. She carries a baby doll around with her everywhere she goes. She acts as though it’s a real baby. He has tried and tried to convince her it’s just a doll, and he’s tried to get her to give it up. All to no avail.

Jill is another regular visitor to the facility. Her mother, the past president of a major university, is in a wheel chair and can often be found playing Bingo, which she can’t play unless one of the aids helps her. Her mother’s other favorite activity is the sing-alongs held every Tuesday and Thursday. Most days she doesn’t even recognize Jill.

Jill’s reaction to the situation, however, is very different from that of John. Sometimes Jill arrives during the Bingo game and sits beside her mother as she’s playing. Instead of thinking how much her mother’s mental capacity has declined, she notes that her mother has a smile on her face. Jill is so happy that there are still things her mother enjoys.

Although her mother usually doesn’t recognize her, it’s obvious that she enjoys Jill’s visits. As far as the diapers her mother wears, Jill isn’t upset by them. There’s nothing inherently distressing about diapers. All babies wear them and that isn’t depressing to anyone.

To a great extent, our attitudes about long-term care facilities and people with dementia influence how we view them.

If we are in denial and try to insist that our love one talk and behave like a ‘normal’ person, we will be miserable every time we see the person.

If we focus on what our loved one can’t do rather than what they still can do, visiting will be painful. If we focus on comparing the person’s current mental state to their previous one, we will suffer.

If we think about our own unhappiness rather than on our loved one’s reaction to the same issue, we will never be able to accept the person’s illness. We will never be at peace with the situation.

Sometimes the best thing to do when something upsets us is to ask whether our loved one is upset by it. You may be distressed, for example, because the aids don’t style your mother’s hair very well. But ask yourself is my mother upset by it? If not, then let it go.

Jill enjoys her visits because she accepts her mother just as she is. She doesn’t try to change her. She interacts with her at her level – not her previous level.

No, Alzheimer’s doesn’t always have to be depressing all the time.

Would anyone like to share a positive experience with a loved one living with Alzheimer’s?

 

 

 

 

 

Puzzles to Remember

Thursday, October 31st, 2013

PUZZLES TO REMEMBER is a 501(c)3 organization that provides puzzles to nursing homes, veterans facilities, and other facilities that care for Alzheimer’s and dementia patients. Puzzles To Remember was founded in 2008 by Max Wallack, now a student at Boston University Academy in Massachusetts. Max recognized the calming effect of puzzles and many other benefits on people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.

Puzzles To Remember has already distributed 8,412 puzzles to over 900 Alzheimer’s caregiving facilities in all 50 states and in Canada and Mexico. Many similar programs are being launched in the United States, Portugal, and Australia. All donations are tax deductible. To make a donation go to: http://www.puzzlestoremember.org/.

Teepa Snow on Activities for People With Dementia

Saturday, June 22nd, 2013

Planning Activities to Enrich the Lives of People With Dementia

I recently interviewed Teepa Snow, nationally renowned dementia care expert, about how to plan activities to engage people with dementia.

According to Teepa, the single most important thing for family and professional caregivers to keep in mind is to “Provide more than just entertainment. It’s important to balance the day, also including productive activities, leisure time, fitness activities and, finally, rest and relaxation.”

Productive Activities: These could be as simple as making, sorting, or fixing things.

Leisure Time: Examples include things such as participating in sports, games, dancing, singing, and working on hobbies.

Self-care and Wellness: These include activities such as walking and tasks focused on strengthening, coordination, balance, and flexibility.

Restorative Activities: These would be activities such as taking naps, rocking in a chair, or stroking a pet.”

When I asked Teepa what people should avoid when planning activities she told me, “It’s crucial to be sure the activities are not too hard or, at the other extreme, too boring.” She also advises against mixing people at different stages of the disease because their behaviors may bother each other.

In addition she stresses that your expectations need to change as the person progresses through the stages of dementia. Activities that work well with those in the early stages will not necessarily be successful for those in the mid- to later-stages.

Resources for Caregivers

I asked Teepa to name the single best resource for people planning activities for those with dementia. After some thought she said that for family caregivers she would recommend Best Friends Approach to Alzheimer’s Care by Virginia Bell and David Troxel (available on Amazon).This duo has published numerous books on their “Best Friends” approach, and this is a good one to start with.

Alzheimer’s Patients and Jigsaw Puzzles

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011

PUZZLES TO REMEMBER is a 501(c)3 organization that provides puzzles to nursing homes, veterans facilities, and other facilities that care for Alzheimer’s and dementia patients. Puzzles To Remember was founded in 2008 by Max Wallack, now a student at Boston University Academy in Massachusetts. Max recognized the calming effect of puzzles and many other benefits on people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.

Puzzles To Remember has already distributed 8,412 puzzles to over 900 Alzheimer’s caregiving facilities in all 50 states and in Canada and Mexico. Many similar programs are being launched in the United States, Portugal, and Australia. All donations are tax deductible. To make a donation go to: www.puzzlestoremember.org/.