People with Alzheimer’s disease have difficulty connecting with others because of cognitive decline and memory loss. However, they still have the same emotional needs as everyone else. They can experience boredom and frustration as well as happiness and excitement. In fact, studies have shown that the emotions a person with Alzheimer’s experiences during an activity last even after the person does not recall having done the activity. In one study, Alzheimer’s patients were shown clips from movies that evoked an emotional response, such as laughter or sadness. After seeing the clips, patients were asked questions about what they had seen. While many of them did not remember what they had seen in the clip, further questioning revealed their emotional state mirrored the emotions evoked by the movie clip they had seen.
Because evidence indicates that activities can affect the emotional state of people with Alzheimer’s, it’s important for family caregivers and elder care providers to try to connect with Alzheimer’s patients. One way to do this is through meaningful activities that help make a connection to the person’s past or that draw on things they once enjoyed. Below are some activities that may help you and elder care providers better connect with your loved one living with Alzheimer’s disease.
#1 Make Old Hobbies Easier
Think about the hobbies your parent enjoyed before Alzheimer’s and determine if there is a way to make them easier. For example, if your mom loved big, complicated jigsaw puzzles, try offering her simple puzzles with large pieces. Or, if your dad liked wood carving, try engaging him in carving soap. Soap carving can be done safely with a popsicle stick.
#2 Read a Good Book
Did your loved one have a passion for reading? Although they may be unable to read to themselves anymore, you or an elder care provider can read to them aloud. Let your parent hold the book and touch the pages while you read. Choose favorite books and authors to help deepen a connection with the past.
#3 Enjoy Some Music
Music can be a great way to connect with someone who has Alzheimer’s. Research shows that even people in the late stages of Alzheimer’s still process music the same way as they did before the disease. Play some music from your loved one’s past. If your loved one likes to dance, get up and dance with them. The physical activity provides an added health benefit!
#4 Let Them Help
Ask your loved one to help you with simple tasks. Doing so can give them a sense of purpose and help them to feel useful. Remember to give clear, simple instructions. If you need to go grocery shopping, give your loved one a list of things to help you look for. Pictures from ads can make this easier.
#5 Do Some Baking
While someone with Alzheimer’s may not be able to follow a recipe, they can still do things like stir batter. Try making cupcakes or cookies and let your loved one help you frost and decorate them.
If you or an aging loved one are considering elder care in San Clemente, CA, please contact the caring staff at Canaan Home Care today! 1-844-CANAAN-1 (1-844-226-2261)