Keeping the brain and body active well into old age can be extremely beneficial to anyone – especially those suffering from Alzheimer’s. As a consequence of the damage wrought by the condition, however, many patients can become withdrawn and lack in self-motivation.
Research published in the “Better at Home” report shows that 86 % of patients with a live-in carer are able to leave their home to pursue other activities, compared to around half of those in residential care. Part of this discrepancy may be logistics – a carer taking their client out in their own car is a different matter to organising a trip from a care home – but much of it is to do with the nature of the support a one-to-one live-in carer is able to provide. You can find out more at the Live In Care Hub (www.liveincarehub.co.uk) and read the entire report. It may be of interest if you or a loved one is facing a future with Alzheimer’s.
Offering enticing pastimes is one way to encourage someone with Alzheimer’s, or other forms of dementia, to take a more active role in their life and here are five you could try yourself.
Baking or cooking
Maintaining independence can be important to many people as they age and those with Alzheimer’s are no different. Whilst the disease may rob them of their ability to follow a recipe, preparing ingredients, mixing and, of course, enjoying the fruits of their labours, may be still within their capabilities.
Many older people enjoy spending time in their gardens and nurturing plants to grow. Even if they have moved into a small apartment with limited or no outdoor space of their own, they can still enjoy being outdoors.
Keep on top of the weeds and lawn mowing so that the garden is safe for your loved one to use. Help them plant seeds and nurture them together. A kitchen windowsill is a good place to grow plants if there is no outdoor space available.
Perhaps walking the dog is difficult and maybe Alzheimer’s means someone else needs to make sure they get fed and watered, but having a familiar furry friend can be extremely beneficial to the elderly. A huge benefit of live-in care is that owners don’t have to be separated from their pets.
If you remind your loved one that their pet needs feeding or grooming there is no reason they cannot then carry out the task, with your support as required.
Puzzles and crafts
Many elderly people enjoy creating things and while activities may need to be simplified as the disease progresses there is no reason they cannot continue to enjoy crafting, puzzle solving or similar activities.
Even in the final stages of Alzheimer’s many sufferers gain a lot of enjoyment from listening to music, making music or singing. A good starting point is to choose favourite songs from their younger days and listen to them on CD – even singing along if you’re brave enough! Reminiscing can be calming for Alzheimer’s patients and songs from the 60s might conjure up some interesting memories.