Through the various stages of Alzheimer’s, life can be greatly enhanced with stimulation, activity, and socialization. People suffering from Alzheimer’s can do much more than most people believe. Their quality of life can be determined by the sum of the special moments created for them. Simple activities and interaction can bring happiness and joy.
The rule of thumb with Alzheimer’s disease is “first in, last out.” Memories from early in life fade away last, so activities, conversation or music that correlate to the past may benefit someone with memory impairment because they trigger thoughts of long-ago experiences and stimulate the brain.
The old saying, “use it or lose it” is true for brains and muscles. Memory loss can sometimes be associated with loneliness, hearing loss, isolation, and depression. When someone is moving, both physically and mentally, it increases a person’s sense of well-being which can help with memory. This provides a sense of purpose for life when there are meaningful and purposeful activities in which to participate and anticipate.
Studies indicate that moderate activity allowed seniors with Alzheimer’s who were living in a nursing home to boost stamina and better carry out everyday activities. They showed slower physical deterioration than sedentary peers and performed better on tests measuring walking, strength, balance and flexibility.
Everything from gardening, poetry readings and horseshoes or arm chair aerobics, pet therapy and puzzles. Whatever activities the Alzheimer’s patient enjoyed prior to the onset of the disease, can often still be enjoyed in some limited fashion. Find out what your loved one or patient did for fun. Perhaps they played intramural sports and would enjoy ‘attending’ and watching the same types of events. How about painting? I had a patient who was a very accomplished artist with many beautiful oils about her home. While she could no longer paint stunning sceneries, she still enjoyed putting brush to canvas and creating! There is no limit – as long as the Alzheimer’s patient remains safe.
Alzheimer’s patients also enjoy activities involving music and rhythm. A familiar tune can get them clapping their hands, singing out loud and dancing around the room! No matter what kind of music they grew up with, they can enjoy it again. Music can open pathways to thinking.
Something that we all can do is to make those with memory impairment feel better is to touch them. Holding your loved one’s hands or massaging his or her feet, legs or arms can ease anxiety, depression and agitation and alleviate feelings of loneliness or abandonment that often accompany Alzheimer’s Disease. Even if the one suffering from Alzheimer’s can’t recognize you or communicate verbally, your touch is a means of love and reassurance to their soul that grounds them in present time and space.
So, we see socialization as a positive and necessary aspect of Alzheimer’s caregiving. I hope this has been helpful and given you some ideas of how to go about adding more socialization activities to your caregivers plan. Please feel free to contact us with questions or for more help. And have a GREAT caregivers day! YOU are special!