When considering the needs of a family member or friend who is living with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia, one area is critical not to overlook – remaining socially connected.
Spending time together may become more of a challenge as the disease progresses but providing the reassurance of caring and compassion can make all the difference in influencing quality of life.
Tips for positive memory care activities
There are many activities to choose from when visiting someone with dementia but there are a few guidelines that can greatly improve the success of your interactions.
You may find it helpful to speak to the primary caregiver for suggestions before scheduling a visit. It can also be useful to keep the following insights in mind:
- People respond differently to Alzheimer’s disease: don’t make general assumptions or assume a one-size-fits-all approach.
- Understand the individual’s preferences and abilities: these may change as the person moves through the different stages but can also shift depending on the person’s disposition on a particular day.
- Plan ahead before your visit: think of activities you can share or topics to talk about. It’s best to be prepared.
- But flexibility is key: be ready to move on to another activity, shorten the visit or try again on another day if the person seems anxious or frustrated.
- Certain times of day may be better: it can be different for everyone, but there may be times during the day when the person seems to feel better or more active.
- It’s the time spent together that’s important: achieving an activity or outcome is not the goal. Your presence and caring is what counts.
10 memory care activities to try
If you’re looking for ideas to spend meaningful time together with your loved one, here are 10 possibilities to try:
- Create a memory box together
Memory boxes can trigger recollections and are fun to assemble. Include items that have meaning to the person, such as mementos from their childhood, hobbies or accomplishments. You can also create more than one box and organize by themes, such as vacations or children and grandchildren.
- Look through old photos
Browsing through photo albums often brings a few smiles, laughter and possibly a wonderful memory as the person glimpses back through time. Don’t worry if your loved one doesn’t recognize everyone in the picture. Reliving the feelings of being together is still possible.
- Read from a favorite book
If someone was an avid reader, it could be a wonderful gift to bring in a favorite book and read aloud. Following the plot line or story from visit to visit might be a challenge but the act of hearing the words and sharing the experience is worth it.
- Go for a walk
Combining a little physical exercise with fresh air is a great activity to share together. Consider whether there is a special place that your loved one would enjoy. Strolling through the neighborhood and familiar sites, visiting the zoo or walking through the park can be wonderful experiences.
- Take a drive
Leaving home can be a special treat in itself. Could you tour the individual’s old neighborhood, where they grew up or went to work? You might take a drive to see the water or the wildlife. Witnessing the beautiful fall colors or holiday decorations are a few more examples.
- Listen to favorite music
Music can trigger strong memories associated with a tune. Arrange to listen to the person’s favorites and see if you can spark any recollections or conversations about the times. You can also sing favorite songs from childhood and see if he or she will join along.
- Spend time outdoors
Being outside and feeling the sun can be such a gift. What activities would your loved one enjoy most? Spending time in a garden, planting or just running fingers through the soil can be healing to the soul. Or perhaps a visit to a dog park to people and pet watch?
- Provide a hand or foot massage
If this would be comforting to your loved one, the sense of touch can convey caring especially when verbal conversations may be more difficult. Offering a hand or foot massage with scented lotion can help the person feel and experience how much they are cared for.
- Watch old videos, favorite movies or television shows
Your loved one may enjoy seeing their favorites from the past, whether it’s home movies, television programs they once enjoyed or classic films they treasured. As a bonus, look for any that can make you laugh as that is one of the most special moments to share together.
- Cook a meal or bake together
Sharing time together cooking or baking allows the person to benefit from the sights and smells of a kitchen which can trigger memories, but also helps them feel included and part of the family. Try baking cookies or other comfort foods and talk about their favorite times of sitting around the table.
The Charleston Senior Community
Locally owned and operated, we offer personalized care by our dedicated team members that undergo specialized training in Dementia Care. Setting a new standard in Assisted Living and Memory Care, we don’t define our residents by their limitations or illness but instead believe in focusing on the positive and the possibility.
The Charleston Senior Community includes private apartments for assisted living residents as well as private or companion-style memory care suites for those living with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. We do not offer companion suites for Memory Care. Assisted Living and Memory Care accomodations are private apartments.
Your loved ones will benefit from our attention to detail, routine health assessments, delicious dining and daily activity programs as we support them to live their best life.
Consider a few of our amenities:
- Chef-led dining program
- Community movie theater
- Live entertainment
- Outdoor patio
- Social lounges
If your family is thinking about assisted living or memory care for your loved one, we hope you will consider The Charleston Senior Community. We are a trusted resource and are here to answer any questions. We also invite you to download our complimentary information, A Family Guide to Funding Senior Care & Housing.