Being an Alzheimer’s patient comes with several challenges. Imagine leading a life where you can see it only in bits and fragments. And gradually, even that disappears. Imagine having to start afresh every single day, not remembering the relationships you have made, the love and affection you have received, and other myriad experiences in your life.
This is what Alzheimer’s does. It strikes primarily in the middle to later stages of life, and then catches up on your world, turning it into a mere illusion. Depression and hopelessness are often seen in Alzheimer’s patients.
You will often see them staring at a blank space or staying isolated, confused and turning aggressive in seemingly trivial situations. Try to be strong, understanding and patient towards them at these times. More than anything else, try to keep them involved, interested, happy, and positive at most times. This prevents the complete hopelessness from sinking in and may also help in their overall mental and physical functioning.
Bring a smile on your loved one’s face who is suffering from Alzheimer’s with these activities:
1. Challenge Them with Games
Games, puzzles and mental exercises can benefit those in the early stages of Alzheimer’s and also keep them occupied, active, and interested. Jigsaw and crossword puzzles are a great way to keep them enlivened and prevent dullness and fatigue.
Moreover, an active brain usually gives a strong fight to Alzheimer’s. Besides, a puzzle solved or a victory at a game are all moments of happiness for an Alzheimer’s patient. Celebrate these small victories to make them feel special, cherished, and capable.
2. Set an Exercise Schedule
Being physically fit is an important part of being healthy. It also leads to the production of happy hormones (Endorphins) that trigger positivity and happiness in us. Physical exercise has the same effect on an Alzheimer’s patient as well, particularly if he/she is in the early stages of the disease. Make sure that they get some forms of physical exercise, whether it is a brisk walk, a jog, a sport, or simply some yoga.
3. Take Them on Short Trips
For those with Alzheimer’s, life is lived in moments and being confined within four walls does not help, especially when they’re trying to come to terms with a recent diagnosis. Taking Alzheimer’s patients out for drives and walks allows them to take in fresh air, as well as makes them wonder at a lot of things they see.
In the later stages of Alzheimer’s disease, patients forget the trails and roads they have traveled even a day before. As a result, every time they see the mountains or trees, they feel a sense of wonder and awe. Always work to keep this sense of wonder present in your loved one.
4. Allow Them to Contribute to Daily Chores
There is nothing more painful than feeling that your life has no meaning. Often, family members and caregivers perform all the activities for an Alzheimer’s patient in their attempt to restore their physical well-being. However, this may have the opposite effect.
If your loved one has just been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, let them do as much as they can on their own. If they are able to contribute to any of the household chores or help others in the mental care facility, don’t stop them from doing so.
Contributing to shared activities and daily chores reassures those with Alzheimer’s that they are still functional and can depend on themselves. It gives them a surge of hope and self-confidence.
5. Eat Out with Them
Alzheimer’s patients may be suffering from memory loss, but that does not mean that they do not enjoy the simple pleasures of life just like us. Eating out is one of these pleasures. A lot of family members and caregivers often don’t encourage Alzheimer’s patients to eat out for primarily two reasons:
a.) They worry if it can affect their health adversely
b.) They feel that Alzheimer’s patients will be awkward when eating outside.
The simple solution to this is to choose restaurants that serve healthy, organic food. Besides, you can always opt for finger foods that Alzheimer’s patients can eat without any difficulty. Chicken fries, finger chips, pizzas are all possible options. Even if they resist, try to convince and take them out for meals once in awhile.
Don’t be embarrassed by them and don’t let them feel shameful either. Eating tasty food and being around other people will definitely make them happy and give them a burst of energy and positivity.
6. Fill Music in Their Life
Music is therapeutic for everyone, and can have a soothing and inspiring effect on those suffering from Alzheimer’s. There have been instances of people who have embraced singing after being detected with Alzheimer’s.
Good music is like a powerful antidote to counter all negative emotions and thoughts in our head. Make them listen to songs that they have loved. Find out what kind of music they enjoy or like to hum along to and then play such music around. Sing them classical, fun songs and get them to participate as well.
7. Read to Them Often
Your voice and words can be therapeutic and motivating for an Alzheimer’s patient. We have all seen the power and effect that reading can have on Alzheimer’s patients in the gripping narrative of ‘The Notebook.’
It can make them really happy, and help them escape into a world where they don’t feel guilt, confusion or shame. It transports them to a beautiful fantasy and brings immense happiness to them momentarily.
8. Show Them Videos of Happy Moment
Vision is everything and probably the most powerful trigger for your memory. If you have past recordings of special moments such as funny incidents of your loved ones, play and replay these for them often. These will definitely bring a smile on their face and give them a glimpse into the beautiful lives they have led and still lead.
Memory care facilities are also known to make videos for Alzheimer’s patients that have family and friends sharing anecdotes about the care recipient, or just saying how much they love and care for them. There are chances that the patient may forget about these messages and videos too, but these might give him or her the motivation to keep making the effort to recollect and regain their lives.
But most importantly, it will bring a smile on their face, and reassert to them that their loved ones will not abandon them.
So these are a few things you can do to bring much joy to your loved ones suffering from Alzheimer’s. Make sure to keep interacting with them, recognizing and appreciating their contributions to family life. Find out things they enjoy doing and do them more often, and most importantly, keep reassuring them that they will not be abandoned.