If your loved one is living with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, supporting their quality of life is sure to be one of your top priorities. Person-centered care can be a great contributor to this effort, as it allows each individual to remain as independent as possible and experience life in a way that is aligned with their personal needs and preferences.
In addition to care, personal relationships also greatly influence feelings of happiness and contentment. Discovering different ways to help those living with cognitive change remain connected encourages engagement with others, even if verbal communication becomes a challenge as symptoms progress.
Tips to Connect With Your Loved One
A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease doesn’t mean that joyful and meaningful days are no longer possible for your loved one. Life still holds many opportunities for growth and fulfillment. In fact, activities shared together can be a great way to add to the richness of life for someone experiencing the challenges of dementia.
Using a person-centered approach, you’ll find keeping the focus on the individual’s likes, dislikes, preferences and lifestyle will help you to create an enjoyable experience for your loved one. The core characteristics include the following:
- Respect and valuing the person as an individual
- Understanding and responding to their changing needs
- Providing opportunities for social engagement
- Supporting the person to make choices and have a voice in his or her daily life
If you’re looking for ways you can continue to share your loved one’s life, these general suggestions might be helpful to keep in mind:
1. Understanding the person behind the diagnosis
The Alzheimer’s Association offers a few insights to consider from the perspective of those living with the illness:
- Don’t make assumptions because of their diagnosis. Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia affect each person differently.
- Independence is important. Ask what they would like to do or need help with.
- It’s important to be engaged. Ask them to participate in activities they enjoy.
- It’s OK if you don’t know what to do or say. Your love and companionship is what’s most important.
2. Take your cues from your loved one
When preparing for a visit or an activity, it’s good to have a plan, but it’s even more important to be flexible. Pay close attention to how your loved one is responding. If they seem tired or would prefer to do something else, you might try a different activity or reschedule for another day.
3. What activities might they enjoy most?
Whenever possible, ask. You may also find inspiration from your loved one’s previous hobbies or career. Think about what they enjoyed, such as sports, being outside, driving or watching old movies. Try to match an activity to an interest and see if it seems to be enjoyable and appealing to them.
Alzheimer’s Activities to Try
There are a large variety of activities specifically designed for those living with cognitive change like Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. Here are five broad categories that can be easily adapted to meet the specific needs and preferences of your loved one.1. Spend time outdoors
Not only will you both benefit from the time spent together, you’ll also have the added advantage of being in the fresh air and sunshine.
Great outdoor Alzheimer’s activities might include taking a walk, observing children in the playground, feeding the birds, watching dogs play in their own park or working in a garden. You can also try sitting together on a swing and sipping lemonade, or taking a trip to the beach and walking on the sand.2. Reminisce together
Browse through an old photo album or memory book. Short-term memories may be difficult to recall for those living with cognitive change, but those from long ago are often retained during the earlier stages of Alzheimer’s disease.
Photos, objects or items from a scrap book may trigger some memories. Give your loved one the chance to reminisce and tell stories, if they’re able. Ask questions but don’t put the individual on the spot or make them feel uncomfortable if they can’t remember details. Your role is to be a good listener.3. Use the personal touch
Touch is a great way to connect with someone you care about, as it can communicate your feelings of empathy and compassion in ways that simple conversation can’t. If you think your loved one would enjoy this approach, try a few of these ideas:
- Give them a hand massage with lotion
- Provide a manicure with nail polish in a favorite color
- Offer a foot massage or pedicure
- Gently brush or comb their hair
- Sit together quietly and hold their hand
4. Bake or cook together
Not only can you share different activities together, but the kitchen provides the added opportunity to experience different smells and tastes. Start by considering favorite meals, snacks or signature dishes. If your loved one was the baker in the family, look for cookie or cake recipes.
If possible, plan a meal and shop for ingredients together. Find ways to include your loved one in the activity, whether preparing the meal, setting the table or helping with the dishes.5. Celebrate the holidays together
Was your family member the one in charge of the holidays? Were there certain celebrations that were favorites?
During the year, you’ll find several opportunities to come together as a family. You can help your loved one plan, decorate and honor the holidays. You can even expand this into celebrating birthdays, the first days of spring, summer, fall and winter or other times when your loved one could simply use a lift.
Life at Eskaton Communities
The word Eskaton means “dawn of a new day.” In our communities, we see each day as an opportunity to enhance the lives of our residents. We’ve been serving the Sacramento region and Northern California for over 50 years.
The Eskaton Difference starts with our life-enriching programs and collaborative partnerships. With a national reputation for innovation, we focus on creating communities that provide our residents everything they need for purposeful living. We invite you to visit one of our award-winning communities to discover some of the benefits we offer, such as:
- Private residences
- Delicious and nutritious meals
- Social opportunities to meet and make new friends
- Creative activities and therapies
- Fitness centers and exercise classes
- Housekeeping services
- Transportation services
- 24-hour staffing
- Free Wi-Fi
- And much, much more!
If you’re considering whether a memory care community could be the best choice for your loved one, we’re here to answer any questions that you may have. We also invite you to download our complimentary information, A Family Guide to Funding Senior Care & Housing.
To schedule a personalized tour, call us at 1-866-ESKATON or (1-866-375-2866) or visit eskaton.org.