Memories hold the key to our most treasured experiences, and if you have known someone with Dementia or Alzheimer’s, you know how heartbreaking and confusing it can be. It is hard to understand why your loved one doesn’t remember all of the things you cherished together.

These are cruel diseases and are still being studied and examined by medical professionals. When you are spending time with a loved one with these diseases, you should keep simple tasks in mind and aim at producing a pleasurable experience.

Play music

Music is a very powerful tool even for people not suffering from Dementia or Alzheimer’s. Hearing a song from the past can trigger many memories and uncover emotions from that time of life.

A patient with memory loss may not fully comprehend the lyrics and meaning of the songs you play for them, they will associate with the melody. If you play songs from their childhood, there’s a chance it may trigger some happy memories. Try to choose happy upbeat songs to prevent bad memories from resurfacing.

 

Watch cartoons

Try watching simple cartoons with your loved ones with Dementia or Alzheimer’s. They will enjoy your company more than anything, so why not sit silently and watch bright and spunky cartoons? If you can, find cartoons from their childhood.

Even if you’re not engaging in conversation, seeing brightly lit colors and comedic characters will bring a spark to their eyes. The key is to bring enjoyment for that certain moment. Enjoy what’s going on in front of you instead of focusing on what they may or may not remember.

 

Do simple crafts

Take a moment to do a simple craft with them. This could include finger painting or simply coloring in a coloring book.

If you decide to achieve a more complex craft such as molding or tracing, have your supplies prepared ahead of time so you’ll only have to pull them out and get going. If you decide to use a coloring book, mark pages in the book you think they will enjoy coloring and display the colors for them in a box.

Try not to let them see any sort of frustrations you have. This is likely to cause negative emotions for them. Smile and enjoy this time, and don’t worry about mistakes they might make.

 

Bring healthy snacks

If their place of residence allows for outside food to be brought in, bring them a healthy snack. Make a fruit basket and allow them to pick the snack they want. Wash the items beforehand so they can eat without hassle. Obviously, keep in mind any medical concerns, but try to showcase a variety of healthy options for them.

Peel and cut apples, oranges, kiwi, and pears which will allow them to simply grab and enjoy. It’s possible some of these foods might trigger memories which would allow you to engage in precious conversation. If the patient isn’t sure of what certain food types are, explain it to them in a fun way. Let them know the things you’ve bought are healthy and safe for them to eat.

Depending on the progress of Alzheimer’s, take it a step further and explain to them how they grow naturally.  Begin with a sentence such as,  “Can you believe these grow on trees?!” or “Did you know a tomato is actually a fruit?” this will spark curiosity but yet a meaningful conversation. The key is to peak their interest with just the smallest facts.

 

Read books to Alzheimer’s patients

Read books to your loved one.  This doesn’t necessarily mean it has to be a huge novel, but even small children’s books can be sufficient if they have advanced Alzheimer’s. Keep in mind, this depends on your personal relationship and progression of this person’s disease.

If they ask to read a book which has more words and fewer pictures, let them know you can retrieve one and bring it in for your next visit, or you can ask them if there is a specific book they would like to read. This way, it may spark some sort of past memories and they might even remember the last request they gave for you bring it. If they do not remember this, don’t get discouraged and read it aloud anyway.

The idea of bringing immediate joy to a loved one with Dementia or Alzheimer’s is helpful with their treatment and will bring you joy. Whether you are visiting a relative or acting as a professional in this line of work, these ideas can keep the patient engaged and happy.

Do you need help caring for your aging parent? At McCortney Home Hospice, we can give you the chance to be their daughter or son and not just their caregiver. Give us a call at 405-360-2400 or in Ada at (580) 332-6900.