Oftentimes in life, the “little” things are actually the most important. Small, consistent changes in routines can have a lasting impact on the lives of those in your care. Here are a few easy ways to easily enhance their lives through love and joy.
Stay one step ahead of their concerns: If you’ve been caring for someone with memory impairment for a while, you have likely noticed that patterns of worry have come up. It’s not uncommon for someone with dementia symptoms to focus on the same source of anxiety and ask the same questions surrounding it. Some examples of this is how meals are being paid for, concerns about their own safety and questions about specific family members. Make a board that can be easily seen when you aren’t there, to answers some of these questions before the cycle of worry begins.
Tap into the power of music: Music is a powerful tool, and one that often gets overlooked when creating a care plan for dementia. There have been many studies conducted about the role of music in not only healing, but in creating joyful moments that boost feel-good chemicals in the brain. Fill an iPod with your loved one’s favorite songs from throughout their life and make it easily accessible to them.
Set and keep a routine: Routines alleviate stress and uncertainty for not only the person experiencing memory impairment, but also the one who is caring for them. Set a schedule and put routines into place that your loved one can rely on and even look forward to. This includes mealtimes, favorite foods and drinks and visits with family and friends. While some variances in schedules are unavoidable, such as medical appointments, maintaining a schedule the majority of the time will alleviate stress and confusion that can come with a schedule that regularly changes.
Establish arts and craft time: Arts and craft projects stimulate brain activity by inspiring creative thought processes and requiring the use of hand-eye coordination. Establish a day and time that is reserved for creating and keep activities simple to minimize any chance of frustration or discouragement. Some ideas are painting, card-making, coloring and crafts that involve beautiful elements of nature like flowers.
Put special activities into place: While routines are so important to helping someone with dementia or Alzheimer’s thrive, so are special activities that they can look forward to. Whether you’re caring for someone professionally or are unexpectedly caring for a family member, you likely have learned about the things they enjoy. Make a list of these as they come up, consulting their family members if needed, and do one of these activities at a set time each week.
Positive action statements: A common issue caregivers run into is when they begin asking people with dementia symptoms questions. Because those with dementia have trouble processing information, questions force them to think and make them anxious. It is better to go with a positive action statement. Instead of asking, “How are you today?”, try, “You seem happy today, let’s go play a game.”
These are just some of the many ways that you can bring joy into the lives of those in your care. We can’t cure Alzheimer’s disease or dementia yet, but we can combat the symptoms by providing loving spaces and experiences.