Caregivers of people with dementia in the Cedar Rapids area sometimes face challenges when trying to come up with appropriate activities to keep them engaged, whether they’re receiving hospice care or home health services.
Because the staff at Above and Beyond Home Health Care is familiar with many forms of dementia such as Alzheimer’s disease, they are able to provide advice and support to patients and their families who sometimes are not sure how to proceed when trying to come up with suitable activities that can be stimulating, or at least wondering what has changed and why.
The biggest challenge for some people with dementia is that the things that used to interest them may no longer do so, while other items from their past need to continue in exactly the same way.
Both of these areas can be confusing and frustrating for caregivers or family members who are never sure what reaction will be provoked from a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease, especially as the disease progresses.
Favorites may change
The Alzheimer’s Association has said that this form of dementia sometimes starts by people having increasing and stronger feelings of confusion, failure , and boredom.
These feelings are common especially as people are still aware that something is changing mentally and physically, but aren’t happy with anyone or their circumstances. They also may be forced to limit or change their regular activities for safety reasons. For instance, instead of driving they’ll have to start being a passenger.
As these feelings and uncertainty grow, pretty soon they will take away or take over many other positive feelings, so before long, people with dementia will have more and more anger and confusion. This means that even suggestions like “let’s go do your favorite thing’ or “let’s go to your favorite food place” may end up in irritation or even anger.
This change of feeling and negative emotions can sometimes be surprising to loved ones, family members or caregivers, especially those who were generally familiar with their loved one and their likes, hobbies, and interests. In some ways, that person’s previous likes and wants may be gone temporarily or permanently and may need to establish new activities, hobbies or locations to enjoy.
Make room for routines
While people with Alzheimer’s disease may sometimes forget about certain hobbies, interests, tasks, and appointments, there are other areas where they may require things to not change at all, such as routine activities.
This could be everything from the same items for breakfast or other meals, the same walking course or route in a car, or the same activity at a certain time.
As some other details fade away in their memory and confusion, these routines often remain longer, to the point that they need to hold onto them and can get anxious and even upset if things aren’t followed to the letter.
The Alzheimer’s Association suggests creating a daily plan, which will let people know what’s coming up and reassures them that their preferred activity is noted and will be done at the same scheduled time. A bit of flexibility is suggested if there’s some overlap or everyone is having a particularly good time.
But too much wiggle room, such as a much later bedtime than usual, can cause difficulties.
Get and stay active
Because dementias progress in different ways for different people, and moods may change regularly as well, it helps to try to be as flexible as possible when trying to balance someone’s need for routine with the possibility that they may not be interested in what appealed to them in the past.
That’s why some degree of activity and variety is recommended throughout the day, rather than simply staying at home. While this might help with someone’s sense of security, it may quickly lead to boredom, frustration and depression.
A daily plan helps provide some stability. It can even indicate if people are coming to visit, especially if they come at the same time such as a therapist or hospice nurse.
Caregivers or family members are also encouraged to try new activities as well. These can engage the person’s brain and perhaps get them excited about seeing or doing something new. They may even enjoy the experience so much it can be repeated on a regular basis.
However, caution should be advised to make sure no one gets overwhelmed or fatigued by something they experience, which could have the opposite effect of wanting to enjoy something new.
Dementia experts also encourage being sensitive to the person’s daily schedule. Some people may do fine with new activities or new environments in the middle of the day but are prone to lose interest, become irritable and even difficult to control in the afternoon or evening, a process called ‘sundowning.’
Home health can help
Above and Beyond Home Health Care has worked with patients at all stages of dementia in the Cedar Rapids area. The staff is familiar with many of the different changes in personalities and interests that may accompany them. We can provide expertise in helping loved ones adjust and adapt to different stages of life, from health care to hospice care, and suggest certain activities.