Alzheimer’s patients are still capable of laughing and thoroughly enjoying themselves if it is the right atmosphere.
When playing a game or doing an activity, we make accommodations for individuals who are mentally or physically challenged and for youngsters in our families. So too with our Alzheimer’s and dementia patients. Many times when someone is just learning a new game, we will adjust the rules until the person is comfortable with new game.
Your Dad probably won’t be able to play Checkers, Bridge or Scrabble the way he used to play. But by modifying the rules and providing assistance during play he can have a good time and enjoy himself. Making small adjustments or playing with partners allows your Dad to be successful. The goal is to provide him with an activity so he can feel good about himself and maybe even be victorious.
Our family attends NCAA basketball games and I am truly amazed how comfortable the youngsters are at getting up in front of the cameras and several thousand strangers to dance and move to music during time-outs. They are totally uninhibited.
I sometimes think adult caregivers forget how to be uninhibited or cheerful; perhaps they don’t think they have time to do so with all of the stress and responsibility they have on their shoulders. Taking the time to plan fun or meaningful activities every few days, or every day if possible, will make life much more enjoyable for your loved one and yourself.
Helping your Mom to feel good about herself, when she has lost so much, can be difficult but not impossible. Many people have never been into playing board games or cards. But, if you can organize activities or tasks that your Mom used to enjoy doing, she can feel productive and her self-esteem will be enhanced.
For example, your Mom may want to wash the dishes after supper at night in the sink, even though you have a dishwasher. Let Mom wash the dishes….she’s done it all of her life. You can sing along with each other, reminisce about the “good old days” or talk about things that your Mom will remember from her childhood. When Mom is occupied with something else, the dishes can be slipped into the dishwasher without her knowledge, if necessary. Many times she will do a great job and you won’t even have to use the dishwasher.
If your Dad wants to paint a wall, give him the opportunity to do it. If his strokes aren’t even or he misses spots, they can always be covered up when Dad is occupied with something else or has gone to bed for the evening. The main goal is for your Dad to not only enjoy himself, but to feel he is productive and assisting the family in a positive way.
Photo Credit: fun.familyeducation.com