Posts Tagged ‘games’

Entertaining People With Early – to Mid-Stage Alzheimer’s

Sunday, April 6th, 2014

At the early stage of Alzheimer’s you can often entertain patients by engaging them in whatever fun activities they enjoyed before developing Alzheimer’s.

Some games may need to be adjusted, however, to accommodate your loved one’s diminishing mental capacity. For example, you may need to play a child’s card game instead of bridge; checkers instead of chess. Or, if the person previously enjoyed jigsaw puzzles, you may need to find ones with fewer and larger pieces (see below for a source of these).

At the mid stage of the disease, people with Alzheimer’s may have more or less the mental and social skills of a toddler. While it’s excellent to do the standbys – things like looking at old pictures or watching movies together, those are somewhat passive.

With a little thought you can find more active ways to spend time together, such as giving your loved one toys or other “props” that the two of you play with together. The key words here are “play” and “together.”

Some people with Alzheimer’s cannot be reached by any means, but try experimenting with the ideas mentioned here.

Note: You can find puzzles designed especially for Alzheimer’s patients at Max Wallack’s website, www.Puzzles to Remember. They come in various sizes and number of pieces to accommodate the skills of early or middle stage patient and they have scenes that are appealing to people with Alzheimer’s.

Do any of you have any other methods for entertaining people with early- to mid-stage Alzheimer’s?

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?

 

 

 

 

 

Puppy’s Magical Visit to a Memory Care Facility

Wednesday, January 15th, 2014

I’ve always heard that pets can reach people with Alzheimer’s on a level we cannot. But I was not at all prepared for the profound reaction my little puppy was going to bring about last Thursday. Here’s what happened:

 

“Oh, my sakes,” Ruth said. “Isn’t she adorable! She’s so tiny. Look at that cute little face!”

That’s what Ruth (one of “My Ladies” with dementia I visit each week), said when I arrived with my itsy bitsy Shih Tzu puppy, Christina.

Christina, ten weeks old and weighing in at just two and a half pounds, hasn’t yet had her first haircut and is a little ball of fuzz. Her eyes peek out from beneath a broad tuft of fur; her tail never stops wagging.

“Thank you so much for bringing her. I love her!”

Then we played a game with Christina. Ruth sat in her well-worn easy chair at one end of her room and I stood at the other end just in front of the door.

Ruth clapped her hands and called Christina, who went racing toward her, then dive-bombed her feet like Babe Ruth sliding into home plate head first.

The second Christina arrived Ruth flung both arms straight up in the air and shouted, “Whee!”

Then I called Christina and she shot back to me like a mighty Hereford in a stampede.

We both laughed so hard we had tears running down our cheeks.

“Thank you so much for bringing her,” Ruth said for the second time.

Given Ruth’s memory, I thought I could probably bring Christina frequently, and every time would be like the first time. What a wonderful gift that would be. So much pleasure for Ruth and so easy for me to do.

Finally, and reluctantly, I told Ruth I had to leave. She walked me to the door. Then we hugged, as always.

“Thank you so much for bringing her,” Ruth said for the third time.

Then she added, “This is my best day since I’ve lived here!”

 

 

 

Entertaining Alzheimer’s Patients in the Early- and Mid-Stages

Sunday, June 17th, 2012

At the early stage you can often share in whatever fun activities the person enjoyed before developing Alzheimer’s. Some games may need to be adjusted, however, to accommodate your loved one’s diminishing mental capacity. For example, you may need to play a child’s card game instead of bridge; checkers instead of chess. Or, if the person previously enjoyed jigsaw puzzles, you may need to find ones with fewer and larger pieces.

At the mid stage of the disease, people with Alzheimer’s may have more or less the mental and social skills of a toddler. While it’s excellent to do the standbys – things like looking at old pictures or watching movies together, those are somewhat passive.

With a little thought you can find more active ways to spend time together, such as giving your loved one toys or other “props” that the two of you play with together. The key words here are “play” and “together.”  If you find some item the person really likes, you can use your imagination to invent simple games to play together with it.

Some people with Alzheimer’s cannot be reached by any means, but try experimenting with the ideas mentioned here. You may be amazed to find your loved one can suddenly function at a higher level and become happier when involved in these types of activities. And that can bring joy to both of you.

Note: You can find puzzles designed especially for Alzheimer’s patients at Puzzles to Remember. They come in various sizes and number of pieces to accommodate the skills of early or middle stage patient. Other sources for entertainment can be found at Best Alzheimer’s Products, an online store that features games for those with Alzheimer’s.