It is a day where loved ones will buy roses, chocolates or write letters to their loved ones. I got a Valentine’s wish from a friend. It felt so nice to see on my phone that I had received a message. I opened the message and lo and behold it was a wish from a lovely friend.
I hope everyone can show love to their loved one all year round and not only on 1 day a year. Don’t wait for the designated day, it might be too late. Say “I love you” everyday. Show your love everyday by caring and giving to the person you are caring for. Actions are great, but sometimes we also want to hear the words.
And don’t wait for that special occasion to say those important words. It might be too late and you will never ever get to say the words to that special person. Love everyday. Life is too short.
What does one give to someone with dementia to keep them busy and occupied? What is easier enough to keep the hands active?
I have tried and seen these activities to be effective for people with dementia.
If your Mother used to knit in her younger days, then try this activity:
Give the person thick brightly coloured wool to wind into a ball. If prefer you can wind it into a ball and let them unwind it. Ribbon or cord will be just as effective as wool. If you are able to knit a sample piece and leave it on the needles, give it to the person to ‘knit’ over your work or let them pull it all off. The activity is to keep the brain stimulated and the hands busy. It doesn’t matter if the work is messy or knotty, let them have a go at it.
For men who used to work with wood, on cars or in workshops: give them a box of unsorted odd nails and screws. Let them sort it for you into 2 or 3 containers. Let them know that they are doing you a great favour and that you need this to be done for them. Men need a little more encouragement than women as they need to feel that they are not doing something silly or insignificant. If the man used to work with paints let them paint. There is ‘safe’ paint on the market. Finger paint will be a great type to use. For severe dementia persons, the small items will become dangerous as it might be a choking hazard. So for those cases, try hitting a few nails, screwing down a few hinges or bolts onto a wooden panel and let them ‘fiddle’ with all the bits while sitting at a table.
Ladies who used to sew can be given something similar like for the men with a wooden panel, but in material with the ‘fiddly’ bits sewn on them. This will keep the hands and fingers busy.
There are a few more ideas that one can adapt for an adult with dementia. Just never make the person feel like they are playing with children’s ‘toys’. Always let them feel that they are important and that they are the helping you out with every task they attempt.
This article is based on my experiences with working with the dementia people. If you don’t find any of the above listed activities helpful or if you have ideas of your own, please let me know. I am always interested to learn more.
We all have our favourite music genres, artists, and bands. The elderly also have their favorites. They might have dementia or be frail, but don’t underestimate the power of music.
I have witnessed late stage dementia patients sing word for word of their favourite golden oldie song. It amazes me how they can remember all the words and even the tune to the song, but they can’t remember basic daily routines. It is amazing how the brain can still remember the music and it is able to put the words together with the tune to make the full song.
Play your parent’s or your charge’s favourite songs on regular occasions. Listen with them and sing along (if you know the words) to stimulate the brain.
Music tempos can also have an effect on a person. Playing upbeat songs will liven the mood. If the person is feeling down and sad, play light, happy music to encourage happy feelings. The music may or may not have lyrics, but that doesn’t affect the benefits of the music on the soul.
Instrumental music playing in the background daily can encourage positive feelings in all the people in the room.
When a person is struggling to fall asleep, play soft classic music in the background. This will help the brain to relax and the person will slowly drift off into a good sleep.
Go ahead and try experimenting with music. It can be instrumental, rock ‘n roll or anything that your elderly person likes. It will have amazing results.
I love the ocean. I enjoy swimming a few laps and then just lay in the water looking at the sky. Not everyone loves the ocean and not everyone can stand the cold water on their skin. The elderly are no different. Some may enjoy the cool water on their ankles and others may not. If your parent used to enjoy swimming, why not take them to beach? Let them enjoy the cool water on their skins. The benefits of ocean water will also benefit them. Note: One can mix their own salt and water at home and add a little epsom salt if you are too far from the ocean or landlocked.
Just be cautious and observant with your parent’s balance when walking on the sand. It is not a firm or solid ground and they might lose balance often and falling might result in twisted ankles or fractured hips.
But don’t let this fear stop your elderly parent from having fun. Let them also experience the benefits of ocean water on their skins. Just be careful with mobility.
The ocean has many benefits on the human body:
The salty ocean water provides minerals that benefit the skin. Here are a few minerals found in the water: magnesium, calcium, and potassium. These all help to treat skin infections, absorb toxins in and on the body, encourages the skin to heal and works to treat eczema.
Ocean water helps to soothe itchy, flaky or dry scalp.
The ocean sounds can help to reduce stress and encourages a person to relax. There is that calm quiet and peaceful feeling oceans bring to a person.
Ocean/sea air is very beneficial for the respiratory organs. The air causes the mucus in the lungs and bronchiole tracts to loosen and this makes coughing easier and it will encourage the airways to become clear. The sea air is also free of pollution and this makes it free from harmful particles.
Ocean air improves circulation in the body.
Ocean air improves sleeping habits.
One way that the ocean can indirectly benefit an elderly person, is that you get bonding time together. You have a chance to get a change of scenery and spend time together while you sit on the beach, or in the car. You both will benefit from the outing together.
I do understand that not everyone can get to the ocean or seaside, so if that is the case for you here is what you could do to set the ‘seaside’ scene. Play some ocean sounds on a ipad, tablet, laptop or CD, sit together and let the sounds flow over you. You can enjoy a cup of tea, or a cold beverage while listening to the ocean sounds. One can even get some builder’s ‘white’ sand and put your feet into it. There are a few ways to set up your own home beach. Don’t forget sunscreen if you sit outside.
The elderly can become dehydrated a lot quicker than younger people. In my days working with the elderly, I noticed that the elderly don’t enjoy drinking water. I have a past article on the dementia person and their difficulty in seeing water. I know that they aren’t able to see water like us and this might be the reason that they don’t drink as must water as their bodies need. You can put a glass of water down in front of the person, and it won’t all be drunk, or only a little if the water will be drunk.
If you are concerned that your parent or elderly charge might be dehydrated these are a few signs to look out for…
There might be an increase in confusion. So if the person seems to be more confused than he/she is already, it might be dehydration.
The person will have a dry mouth.
The eyes will become sunken.
Skin will not lie flat down when a little is pinched. It will stay in the ‘ pinched’ state.
The pulse will become rapid.
The blood pressure will drop to a low reading.
As there isn’t enough water in the body, urine output will be very little or not at all.
There might be temperature, but this might not always be the case as the elderly can sometimes have no change in their temperature readings, or they can have naturally very low temperatures. ( I will do an article on the elderly and body temperatures.)
When an elderly person becomes dehydrated or when you suspect that the person is dehydrated, don’t hesitate to call the doctor. Dehydration is very serious and can result in death. In some cases the dehydrated person will be admitted to hospital where fluids will be given intravenousely. But sometimes it’s a simpler solution: just increase the daily fluid intake.
We sometimes we might say something to the elderly and it may be heard wrong by them. We need to be a bit more careful what and how we say something.
‘You just said that…”
When your elderly parent starts talking about the same story that they just spoke on or spoke about all day, try and change the subject to something else that they remember. Don’t try and shush them or if you are unable to change the subject, be careful on what your body language is saying. The elderly are very perceptive and they are remarkably good at picking up on the vibes you give off.
“You are too old to drive.”
All of us will be too old to drive one day, and when that happens we will become house bound. Imagine not being able to go where and when you like. Try and make arrangements for 2 days a week outing for the elderly charge in your life. Uber assist is suited for the person with nursing aids, like walking frames, wheelchairs and more. Or if you are not comfortable to use them, make a set times and take them to the places that they want to go to.
“You are unable to live alone anymore.”
This is a hard one. There will come a time where a person can’t live alone anymore and will need 24 hour assistance. It is not fair to keep reminding the elderly that they are incapable to live alone anymore. They won’t be able to make the decision to change that. It is not fair to expect that of them. Rather try and tell them in a nice way of all the benefits of not living alone. Many people can’t always accommodate the elderly in their homes and will put the elderly into a nursing home. I don’t condemn a person for doing that, but I am not for it either. I believe that having the elderly at home or with family to be the best option for them. They thrive under love and great care. Family is the best way to provide that for them. Move in with the elderly person/s. Or move them into your home. They will disrupt a bit of your daily life, but you will be in that same position one day. Each person is to decide what works best for them.
“Where is your walking frame?”
Most of the elderly people I have worked with forget to use the walking aids they have. I sometimes wonder if they do it on purpose or if they are genuinely forgetting. They don’t like to be reminded that they can’t do what they used to do when they were younger. Put the walking aid near by them when they are sitting down, so they have easy access to it when standing up. Something I like to do when I notice that the elderly person is walking unaided, I just walk along side them with the aid, they will look at it, look at me and then take the aid and use it. I don’t let on that it is a big issue. Just a simple slip of the mind. I am not trying to say that I don’t see it as an important equipment to use, rather I am mindful of the embarresment or humble feelings that the walking aid might bring. Do tell them in the beginning of the importance of the aid and the importance of them using it. Be careful not to make them feel like a child.
“Why do you complain so much?”
They are old. They feel the cold more than us. They have medical problems. Let them complain. You can try change the subject, but be gentle.
“You forgot your appointment!”
Don’t we all forget something in our everyday lives? If there is an appointment made, make a note and stick it on the refrigerator for the elderly to see it clearly. Call them up on the appointment day and remind them or ever offer to take them to that appointment. That is a good way to bond amidst all the hustle and bustle of our busy lives.
“It’s not cold today.”
The elderly feel the cold more intensely than we do. With age, our capillaries become hardened and slow to react to weather or climate changes. And the elderly are less active so they tend to feel the cold a lot more. If the elderly is cold and it’s a warm day out, advise on a lighter jacket to the one that they were planning to wear. The elderly also suffer from heat strokes a lot quicker than the younger people. So they need to wear clothing that keeps the body temperature at a balance.
I hope that you all enjoyed reading this post. I don’t mean to offend anyone and I am not saying your way is the wrong way. We all have different circumstances and act on them in the ways we think are best. I have mentioned some ideas and I hope you will be able to use them or that they will spark an idea you never thought of.
Hello to everyone. How are you all doing? How are the elderly people in your life doing? I am sure that you are giving them the best care and love they need. They might never say ‘thank you’ or ‘I love you’ but I know they do love you and if they could they will thank you.
Sometimes we do everything possible for the elderly person and at the end of the day no appreciative words come. The elderly person might have hit you, spat on you, and shouted insults at you. They aren’t able to always express themselves in the way that they would like. It is frustrating for them at times. The brain is failing them. They are scared as they might be feeling alone. Try and see it from their point of view.
I am not saying that one should just take abuse, but sometimes it is the only way they know how to express a feeling.
Even though it might look like you aren’t appreciated, you are. The elderly person in your life will come to you first if any problem should arise. They will look at you and trust you will make it all go away. You are the rock in their failing world. You are the familiar face they need.
You are needed in a way that no one else can be. There is no substitute for you.
Thank you for caring for me like you do.
Thank you for all the time and effort you put into making my day pleasant.
Thank you for timeously answering my repetitive questions with a gentle answer.
Thank you for your comfort.
Thank you for not leaving me alone.
Thank you for putting your life on hold so that I can be given the best care.
Thank you for all the little things you do for me.