Having a good time participating in an activity shouldn’t be any problem for most of us right? Oh! But sometimes it is! We may have a hard time relaxing, feeling comfortable with the people we are with, or maybe we’re just plain tired! It’s the same with our older loved ones. They may have a hard time participating in an activity if things just don’t feel right. As a caregiver, you must anticipate your loved one’s needs at any given time, especially if they have dementia.
Here are some hints to making the most of your activity experiences with your older family member.
- As with anything, activities are trial and error. Some days, playing a game of cards is fun, but other days it is frustrating. If something doesn’t work, do something else. Be flexible.
- Engage your family member in a variety of ways to take part in something. Sometimes humor works, sometimes conversation, and sometimes using our senses works better. For example, asking mom to help make cinnamon rolls might be easier if she smells the cinnamon and feels the dough in her hands. Dad might think it’s more fun to go for a walk if you tell him how warm it is outside. Engaging someone in an activity is different for everyone.
- Don’t have expectations for what an activity’s end result should be. It’s the fun. It’s the time spent. It’s the journey.
- Lose the distractions. Things like noise, too much going on in the environment, too hot, too cold, etc.. can all be distracting. Distractions can make us lose focus, or be over-stimulating for some.
- Make them feel safe, comfortable, and relaxed.
- Make sure they have all aides, like hearing aids, glasses, walkers, wheelchairs, and other assistive devices as needed.
- Make sure they are not hungry or thirsty. When you are hungry and thirsty, it is hard to focus.
- Make sure they are not too tired. Try to squeeze rest in between the activities.
- Be open to any activity they enjoy. Try a variety of activities.