People who are living with dementia have good days and bad days, and their moods and outlook can ebb and flow from day to day and week to week.
Whatever their mindset, mood, or level of clarity, it’s important to meet them where they are. Living with the symptoms of dementia can be a distressing experience, and that is only exacerbated when well-meaning caregivers point out gaps in their memory or foggy thinking patterns.
It’s common for people who are living with Alzheimer’s and dementia to have a firmer grasp on events that happened a long time ago than on more recent ones. Rather than trying to anchor them in the present, which can increase their confusion and anxiousness, engage with them where they are. When people with dementia feel calm, safe, and connected, they tend to fare better mentally and emotionally and require fewer medications.
Activities that can increase connection with your loved one
When providing care to a person living with dementia, you should always emphasize connection, which is why planning and preparing social activities can make such a world of difference. Connecting with others reduces isolation, quells anxiety, and boosts overall quality of life.
Here are some ideas to try that foster connection, presence, and joy.
- Go through family photo albums together
- Read stories or poems aloud to each other
- Listen to music, preferably from your loved one’s youth and early adulthood
- Bring a doll, puppet, or favorite object to hold
- Use aromatherapy to evoke pleasant scents and memories
- Bring a bouquet of flowers to smell and look at
- Eat favorite foods that bring pleasure, such as ice cream
In all of your plans and interactions with your loved one, remember that their preferences should be a key consideration. Take the time to familiarize yourself with their routines, life experiences, and preferences, and ensure that any new caregivers or social workers who come into their lives make the same effort.
The more you know and understand about your loved one and their temperament and the patterns of their moods, the better the care you can provide to them.