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Top Strategies for Late Summer Sparkle with Those Who Have Dementia
There is plenty of summer left. Persons with dementia,deserve to go outdoors to enjoy the warm weather and outside activities.Several strategies will help you enjoy the rest of the summer with them.
Following these tips will ensure you and your loved one or client, with Alzheimer's disease or another dementia will have a pleasurable summer.
Structure and routine.
Try to follow regular predictable routines that include pleasant familiar activities. Remind the person that everything is going according to plan. Designate a certain time to go for a walk or sit in the backyard together.
Pleasant outdoor and indoor activities.
Make time for simple pleasant activities the person knows and enjoys---listening to music, watching a movie or sporting event, sorting coins, playing simple card games, walking the dog, playing catch,or dancing can all make a big difference.
Keep things simple.
Break down complex tasks into many small simple steps that the person can handle (e.g. stirring; folding towels while doing the laundry). Allow time for frequent rests.
Sometimes the simplest way to deal with agitated behavior is to get the person to do something else as a substitute. For example a person who is restless and fidgety can be asked to sweep rake or cut grass dust fold clothes or take a walk with the caregiver. Someone who is rummaging can be given a collection of items to sort and arrange. Have a box of items for outside too.
Sometimes it is enough to offer a snack or put on a favorite videotape or some familiar music to interrupt behaviors that are becoming difficult.
Your loved one might want to do some activity or behave in a way that at first troubles you or may refuse to do something you have planned like taking a bath. Before trying to interfere with a particular behavior, it is important to ask yourself if it is important to do so. Even if the behavior is bizarre, it may not be a problem especially in the privacy of your own home
When the person is agitated it may help to do simple repetitive activities such as a massage or hair-brushing.
Keep crowds or confusion to a minimum.
Sit in the backyard. Take short trips. Go to less traveled areas. Go at off peak times. Bring the outdoors indoors-open windows Let the sunshine in.
Help the person with tasks that are too demanding. Don't put the person in a position where demands will be made that he or she cannot handle.
Let the person know that you are there and will keep him or her safe. Try to understand that fear and insecurity are the reasons the person may shadow you around and ask for constant reassurance It is understandable that you may feel angry; but showing your anger can make the agitation worse. If you are about to lose you temper try counting to ten remembering that the person has a disease and is not deliberately trying to make things difficult for you.
Try to talk about feelings rather than arguing over facts.
For example, if the person with dementia thinks it is 1960 and she is 60 years old, go along with her. Have a discussion about the sixties
Identify yourself by name and call the person by name.
The person may not always remember who you are. Never ask Don’t you remember me?
Approach the person slowly from the front.
Give him or her time to get used to your presence. Maintain eye contact. A gentle touch may help.
Speak slowly and distinctly.
Use familiar words and short sentences.
Keep things positive.
Offer positive choices like: Lets go out now, or Would you like to wear your green or orange coat?
Ask simple questions
If the person seems frustrated and you don’t know what he or she wants. Ask simple questions that can be answered with yes or no or one-word answers.
Use gestures, visual cues, and verbal prompts to help. Try to break up complicated tasks into simple segments; physically start doing what you want to happen. For example, before going for a walk get out the coats open the door and say, that it is time for a walk. Set up needed supplies in advance for tasks such as bathing and getting dressed. Have a special signal for needing to go to the bathroom.
Do not correct the dementia person unnecessarily.
If a subject of conversation makes a person more agitated or frustrated, it may help more if you drop the issue rather than keep on trying to correct a specific misunderstanding. He or she will probably forget the issue and be able to relax in a short while.
Take care of yourself.
Look into adult day care, respite care, or have a trusted friend or relative stay with your loved one for a while so you can do something for yourself.
Eat healthy foods and encourage your loved one to do the same.
During the summer season many fresh fruits and vegetables are available. Visit local markets during off peak hours. After buying some fresh produce make some old family recipes. However, do not start an argument over food.
Make sure to attend a support group.
There is one in your area. Contact your local Alzheimer’s Association if you need help finding one.
Join an online support group.
Yahoo and MSN have them. Here is one you can join http://health.groups.yahoo.com/
If you have a loved one with dementia following these tips will make your summer more pleasant and less stressful.
Have a great rest of the summer!
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Alzheimer's ideas,features Susan Berg author of Adorable Photographs of Our Baby-Meaningful Mind Stimulating Activities and More,a book for those with dementia and an excellent resource for caregivers and healthcare professionals. Free information given