I know that we do not live in a perfect world, nor do our friends with Alzheimer’s disease receive perfect care. But one of my biggest soapbox subjects relates to the basic human needs to be productive, valued, and useful- and how our dementia population lacks the opportunities to fulfill that need.
I don’t mean to imply that dementia folks need to be put to work and have expectations and stresses placed upon them. But idle time is frequently detrimental to normal functioning. Think of your own life…
Do you feel a sense of shame when you don’t accomplish a day’s tasks?
Do you find yourself so overwhelmed with a number of things to do that you actually get none of them done?
Does your mind race if you try to “relax” because you know you should be doing 100 other things?
These feelings can lead to anxiety, depression, and confusion. And that is why boredom can be harmful.
So a few suggestions…
- Engaging one or more Alzheimer’s persons with a productive task can be as simple as putting a box of trinkets in front of them. At least their hands and their imaginations will be used.
- Therapeutic chores- wiping tabletops and counters, sorting silverware, dusting. These things are repetitive in nature, which is a soothing behavior for someone who repeats her/himself or wanders. It’s about the process, not the outcome.
- I am not a fan of television or music unless it is used in conjunction with an active activity. Dancing, exercising, or a language-based game (Wheel of Fortune, Trivia) when an actual person is in the lead is ideal.
- Less talk, more action- please folks, no more reading the newspaper to a group of memory-impaired individuals. When language and memory are significantly impaired enough that communication is less than perfect, let them use their hands for expression and comprehension. Build something, take apart something, or demonstrate the process of something… it’s less time consuming than reading the paper.
If you water the flowers, they will bloom.