Keeping your memory impaired loved one engaged in meaningful activity throughout the course of Dementia is vital to their well-being. By encouraging your loved one to engage in a meaningful activity, you are helping them by stirring pleasant memories, developing a routine that includes some fun for both you- the caregiver and them, lessening depression, anxiety and maintaining physical and cognitive function.
The focus of any treatment for someone with a dementia diagnosis, whether it is pharmaceutical or non-pharmaceutical, should always be to maintain quality of life. By taking some time during the day to engage your loved one in a meaningful activity, you are providing the best possible quality of life for them and for you, the caregiver, by decreasing your level of stress.
I use the words “engage” and “meaningful” a lot when I am talking about activities! By using your loved one’s social history as a guide – their hobbies, what they did for a career, remembering where they lived when they grew up, considering family traditions; you’ll find it is quite easy to come up with a plan for an engaging and meaningful activity.
The activities that you chose for your loved one should be appropriate for their level of physical and cognitive abilities. For example, a person who loved to quilt, may not be able to sit down and make the fine stitches they did in the past, but you can sit with her, with a quilt she has made or a book or magazine filled with pictures of the assorted designs of quilts and strike up a conversation about patterns, how many quilts they’ve made, who helped them quilt, touch the quilt they’ve made with them and ask what type of fabric it is, where they got the fabric.
You don’t need an elaborate plan, you don’t need to spend hours working on an activity or project – engaging them in something that is or has been important to them is what matters, even if it only take 15 minutes to accomplish. You cannot create a perfect day for a person with dementia but you can create perfect moments.
by Karen Francis – Speaker, Educator and Caregiver Support