How much do you know about Alzheimer’s disease and dementia when it comes to senior loved ones and their family caregivers?
- Every 67 seconds, someone in the U.S. develops Alzheimer’s disease.
- Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth-leading cause of death in the U.S.
- One in three seniors dies with Alzheimer’s or dementia.
- More than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s and about 15 million people are serving as their caregivers.
- About 13 million women are either living with Alzheimer’s or caring for someone who has it.
These staggering statistics from the Alzheimer’s Association explain the many Walk to End Alzheimer’s events taking place this World Alzheimer’s Month. Part of the reason is to raise awareness, other parts are to raise money for research into treatments and a cure, as well as to provide support and a voice to family caregivers.
These overwhelming numbers come down to one essential truth: We are all impacted by Alzheimer’s and dementia. Alzheimer’s Disease International reports more than 10 million new incidences of dementia every year. This implies that many families must cope with this condition in grandparents, parents, spouses, and other loved ones.
Family Caregiving Becomes More Challenging as Alzheimer’s Symptoms Worsen
Caring for a senior loved one with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia can become extremely challenging as the disease presents symptoms beyond memory loss and goes through various stages. In senior patients suffering from dementia, the National Institute on Aging explains that paranoia, speech difficulties, and occasional lack of empathy can be common experiences as the disease progresses. These symptoms often compound the emotional complexity for family caregivers assisting elders at home.
Being a family caregiver for a senior loved one with Alzheimer’s or dementia is a test of compassion, patience, and resilience. To ensure their well-being and happiness, family caregivers must adapt to the unique needs of aging elders. While doing so, caregivers also want to find ways to continue to connect with their aging elders, mutually enjoy time together, and foster their relationship by finding ways to spark joy and treasured one-on-one moments.
Below, we at Amada Senior Care have curated a list of 10 activities especially designed to improve the quality of life for our elderly loved ones navigating dementia or Alzheimer’s. These activities promote success, reduce stress and sundowning, and mitigate anger, anxiety, and depression.
Actitivities to Stay Connected with an Aging Elder Diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or Dementia
Engage your loved ones in simple art projects such as painting, modeling clay, or creating a collage. Artistic expression can stimulate cognition, boost mood, and provide a sense of
Baking or Cooking Together
Simplified cooking or baking activities can evoke pleasant memories and feelings. It provides a fruitful activity that offers sensory engagement (smell, taste) and a delightful dish to share. Cooking or baking also can promote healthy eating in senior dementia sufferers and helps create treasurable emotional bonding experiences with the caregiver.
Tending to a Garden
Whether it’s indoor plants or an outdoor garden, tending to nature helps reduce anxiety and stress. It’s an opportunity to engage in a simple, rewarding task that offers physical activity as well.
Listening to Music or Singing Songs
Familiar tunes can spark memories and lift spirits. Singing songs or even playing simple instruments or dancing can lower stress levels and stave off depression for those with Alzheimer’s. The online forum Alzheimer’s Research & Therapy reports that the use of music therapy can stimulate memory and ease behavioral symptoms.
Going Through Photo Albums
Reminiscing can be a wonderful cognitive exercise for those with dementia. Looking through old photographs can stimulate memories and trigger conversations about the past, providing comfort and identity reassurance.
With physician’s approval, regular low-impact exercises such as walks, chair yoga, or light stretching exercises can improve mood and decrease anxiety, all the while promoting healthier sleep patterns. Walking, beneficial for overall health, mood, and longevity, is recommended by the National Institute of Heath as a good activity for dementia patients. Shared observations during these walks or simply enjoying refreshed air can be beneficial for both a senior loved one and family caregiver.
Animals offer unconditional love and companionship. Interacting with a gentle pet can lead to relaxation, reduced anxiety, and increased feelings of positivity.
Interactive games like puzzles, card games, or board games can increase feelings of success and stimulate cognitive function. Remember to choose games appropriate for their cognitive level to avoid frustration. Classic card games are enjoyable and cognitively stimulating activities that can be shared by family members of all ages, along with their loved one with dementia. Many studies suggest engaging in visual puzzles or crossword puzzles as a cognitive activity that can improve thinking skills over the long term. Although it cannot cure dementia, it can support your loved one’s functioning and sense of accomplishment.
Watching Classic Movies or TV Shows
Movies or shows from their youthful years can reignite fond memories and provide a comforting activity that promotes relaxation and reduces stress. Sharing a classic film can create a comfortable shared experience which might lead to an engaging conversation.
Simple Household Chores
Participation in simple chores, like folding laundry, setting the table, or organizing a shelf or drawer, promotes a sense of purpose and boosts self-confidence. Studies have shown that sensory activities can stimulate memories and positively impact dementia symptoms. The key is to ensure the household tasks are manageable and safe.
Amada Can Help Support a Senior Alzheimer’s Patient or Family Caregiver
Understanding and supporting a senior loved one with Alzheimer’s necessitates finding avenues for connection.Above all, patience, compassion, and understanding are the keys to making any of these activities a success. At Amada Senior Care, we believe there is always a way to bring joy and fulfillment into the lives of loved ones with Alzheimer’s and dementia, and our compassionate caregivers have the knowledge and training to do just that. If you’d like to learn more about how a trained Amada caregiver can assist a senior loved one with dementia or provide respite for a family care, please don’t hesitate to reach out to an Amada senior advisor. CLICK HERE to find an Amada franchise office near you.