Dementia is now part of your relationship with your loved one, learn how to cope with, deal with and live with it.
Final chapter from the information I learnt from the dementia workshop. Tomorrow I have a meeting for a demonstration of the Carers Watch (see link in prev post about Tracking), so I will be sure to update you all on that. Then all will return to normal and I shall be rambling about the things I find challenging at home, and what nan and I do to get round the challenging days.
Some of this I may have covered in the previous post, so apologies if it seems a little familiar. I seem to have got carried away in the last one.
Just to re-iterate a point made in the last post Don’t respond to anger, or bad behaviours, as it is more likely to become a memory and they will learn this as a way to get attention and interaction.
The final part of the workshop was about activities that can be done with the caree (thanks again @Ctrying). Activities are obviously extremely beneficial for every person, they give us stimulation and a purpose and this is heightened in dementia patients. If they can complete an activity they feel as though they have accomplished something, and will feel less anxious as a result. Activities can also be exceptionally fun and joyous, and everybody knows the benefits of a good laugh. Some activities can also build on physical fitness, as well as mental fitness. This can decrease risk of falls, and increase general well being, helping the comfort of your loved one. Activities can also reduce some of the behaviours mentioned in the previous post as doing an activity will reduce boredom which can cause frustration or depression which could lead to wandering.
There are three types of activities;
- mental-stimulate the mind
- physical-maintain co-ordination & strength
- social-interaction with others
It is important to remember that activities with people with dementia need to focus on the whole person for example keep in mind their likes/dislikes, triggers, general health. Again the life journal may come in handy here.
A simple activity that can be done by everybody is to share household chores, some may require gentle encouragement or a reminder of where to find objects needed etc but if they see you doing a chore first they may be more inclined to join in, especially if you offer them a duster. Or maybe turn the dressing routine into a discussion about fashion, the things we used to wear (dungarees and flurou tees anyone?!), this can help your task become less of a chore as your caree will be more relaxed.
As with all things dementia related activities will need to be personalised, I cannot just list them all here and let you pick some out (much as I would love to). Again creating the life journal, and just knowing your caree personally will help you to think of activities to encourage engagement, but this may make it hard to think on your feet. If you have a simple refer to list somewhere it may diffuse tensions much quicker. It is important to vary the length of activities done throughout the day, to keep engagement high and reduce boredom or frustration. As well as being personalised it is important to create activities that encourage use of the 5 senses, especially in the later stages of dementia.
- Touch-a person with dementia may not be able to recognise that are talking to them, but a small squeeze of the hand will reassure them of your presence. Different textures can also help stimulate the brain (There were activities we used when I worked in a nursery that I will discuss when I cover Montessori)
- Hearing-music is especially helpful. I often have the music on round the house, or sing while I am cleaning. And on a good day nan will name the band/song. However today, being a good day, nan joined in singing! It was great. (Consider Yourself from the Oliver! soundtrack in case anyone is wondering)
- Smell-A smell is often a strong trigger for memories, for example the smell of my moisturizer brings back memories of Florida. My nan recalled times she wore her favourite perfume when we found it hidden in a drawer the other day and spritzed it.
- Taste-By using the life journal you can find out information about a carees favourite meals as a child, or a meal from a special occasion. By cooking this meal for them you can help trigger the memory
- Sight-Something as simple as seeing a pet, or a photo of times gone by could trigger a memory. But if not looking at something colourful such as a bunch of flowers, could trigger comfort and happiness and delay feelings of anxiety.
I know I mentioned this in the previous post but offer simple choices, and drip feed information. For example if your caree does not want to bath
- Would you like to have a bath now OR later?
- Would you like a bath OR shower?
- Which smelly is the nicest A OR B?
This gives your caree the ability to make a decision, but can make it harder for them to refuse. By increasing detail gently you are capturing their interest gradually, hopefully making them more curious and more willing to participate.
There are ways to encourage engagement in your activities once you have an idea of ones you would like to try:
- Start the activity on your own
- Offer encouragement and instruction NEVER CRITICIZE/CORRECT
- Simplify or modify the task to your caree’s abilities
- Ask your caree to help you
Of course sometimes your caree will not want to participate in an activity, despite your many ways of asking (remember your toolbox!), that’s OK, we don’t all want to be doing something all the time. A quiet day is OK. Today I did the ironing and instead of nan sitting watching TV in the other room with no interaction I made her a cup of tea (she never refuses a tea) and set a newspaper on the table. Sure enough she came and sat with me and chatted about articles she found in the paper. I can ask her til I’m blue in the face if she’d like to join me in a different room of the house, but trick her there with a cup of tea and there was no stress at all! It was nice to see her doing something different to “watching” the TV, even something as small as changing room and reading a newspaper was enough to see a difference in her behaviour.
Thankyou once again for reading, I hope you found the information from the workshop as helpful as I did. And hope it will be beneficial to you during difficult times.