It’s important to keep those with Alzheimer’s or dementia both mentally and physically stimulated. Ultimately the question comes down to: how to keep someone with dementia happy.
So how can family caregivers do this?
How To Keep Someone With Dementia Happy
Having them sit in front of the TV all day is not the way to do it.
You want to create experiences for them that bring back good memories, positive thoughts and improved moods.
A great way to do all this is to connect them with sounds and items from their earlier years. And to do so in a way that doesn’t make them feel over stimulated.
At the heart of creating such an environment is learning about someone’s background, interests, former occupation and more. If you’re caring for a loved one, then you already know about all these things which makes your task easier.
Once you start thinking about these things, here are 3 ways you can incorporate them into a positive, stimulating and relaxing environment for your loved one with dementia.
Task and/or Sensory Boxes
A powerful memory care tool is getting your loved one to connect with past skills and knowledge.
For example, if they were a plumber, give them a box with pipes. If they were a tailor, give them a box of fabrics.
By feeling something familiar, it will help them recall memories. Being able to handle and manipulate these things gives them the opportunity to use all their senses. Which is a great thing for them to do!
You can also keep a sensory box around filled with items to create different sensations. Soft baby bottles. And old oil can. Puppets or stuffed animals.
Having items they can safely interact with can help them feel engaged and grounded.
Some people living with dementia have a lot of anxiety or mental stress. A redirecting station is designed to take that energy and refocus it on accessible skills or pleasant memories. It’s a way to help them regain control.
Items at a redirecting station may be similar to those you’d put in a sensory box. Trinkets from their earlier years. Plush toys. Leather gloves. Small tools and gadgets.
Allow your loved one to manipulate or tinker with these things and move their focus from frustration to engagement.
Music therapy is one of the most powerful ways to engage those suffering from dementia. Even those in the later stages of the condition.
Even those who are largely unresponsive can feel they’re able to reconnect with their caregivers when they listen to music.
Music is also a great way to redirect someone who may be agitated. The music can help them feel calmer and happier.
And yet another benefit of music therapy is it helps them connect with memories… sometimes even socializing or sharing those memories with loved ones and caregivers.
A great place to start with music therapy is to create a playlist of music that was popular during a loved one’s teens or 20s.
Less Stress and More Happiness
Just because someone’s physical or mental abilities decline due to dementia, it doesn’t mean enrichment should stop.
Just the opposite. The more ways you can find to keep a loved one enriched using the ideas above, the less stressed and happier they – and you as their caregiver – will be.
If you have other ideas on how to keep someone with dementia happy, please share them in the comments below.