- Play music with a fast pace
- Let her walk as much as possible
- Exercise videos with simple instructions are available from numerous companies
- Have her shred old documents or clip coupons
- Have her feed a pet
- Direct her to get mail from the mailbox and open the junk mail
- Have her set the table while you make lunch.
- Bake cookies. She can help stir or put the dough on cookie sheets (while you set the oven)
- Get her some exercise through activities such as batting a balloon or pulling weeds
- Let her help at whatever level she can. One example: She can hold a grocery bag while you unlock the door to the house
- Ask a friend to visit and take her for a walk, read to her or play with a ball. Anything that will give you a break for a while
- Get audio books from the library. People with Alzheimer’s often like to be read to, especially if they’re no longer able to read themselves. You might have to sample different subject matter or genres before finding a good combination. Humor usually speaks to anyone.
The difference in relationships matters. Non-relatives sometimes have easier access or more cooperation precisely because they are NOT family members. Many times, loved ones are harder on their relatives than anyone else. Your mother probably feels she can act however she wants around relatives. Sometimes, loved ones don’t have good relationships to start with and this is just continuation of that dynamic. But usually a person will be on his or her best behavior for someone outside the family. That’s good news for aides, doctors and sometimes even strangers with whom they interact. Sometimes all the family contact, and familiarity it brings, is too much. You both might just need a break from one another, having spent too much time together already. This is not something you should take personally. Your mother still loves you. Just remember that she has a form of dementia. Many people don’t realize that almost all inhibition is eliminated with dementia. It’s a bit of a mystery, frankly, how some people can maintain such good manners with someone who is not as familiar with them as you. It’s important for caregivers (such as yourself) to learn to let things go. You should weigh things such as: If all she wants to eat is chocolate pudding, is it hurting anyone/anything? If she wants it for breakfast, it might not be the most nutritious thing for her, but it’s not going to harm her (unless medically contra-indicated, of course). Learn to step back and evaluate the overall implications of odd requests or off-plan behavior. Choose your battles wisely. Often, if a loved one with Alzheimer’s doesn’t want to eat or dress or do some other common task, she or he will cooperate when you ask again later. For more information, please click here to download our FREE “Indispensable Alzheimer’s Kit.”
http://www.videorespite.com/) has 10 interactive DVDs/videotapes that will typically keep the attention of a person with Alzheimer’s for their full duration (20 to 53 minutes). Visit the company online, by phone [(801) 272-9446] or by mail: P.O. Box 17332, Salt lake City, UT 84117. • Exercise — Join a gym (to help both of you), go on walks, use an exercise video or audio program, putt on a portable putting green, bat an inflated balloon back and forth, play suitable games such as horseshoes (soft ones are lighter), bean bags or croquet. Your imagination is the only limit here. • Play cards or board games such as checkers • Relaxation — Have a relaxation period each day after lunch. Burn candles or incense (remember which scents get the best reactions), play calming music, gently massage warm lotion onto hands or arms. Consider this type of ritual around bedtime, too. • Read enjoyable things — This could be something funny, inspirational, spiritual or just reflective. One person can read to the other, or you can read together. For more information, an excellent resource is “The Indispensable Alzheimer’s Resource Kit.” It can be downloaded at no cost by clicking here.If you step back and take a good look, there are many options for you. Just about anything you do together can be viewed as an “activity.” It often doesn’t take too much to make a person with Alzheimer’s feel useful. You can do something as helpful as go grocery shopping. Have him push the cart, or hand him things to arrange in the cart. He also can help unload them for the cashier and then later load them into the car. Having him hold a bag while you’re unlocking the car or your front door also can build self-esteem. Here is a list of activities you might like to try at home. Mix and modify as you find useful. You will have to consider cognitive ability and functioning levels, of course, so you don’t attempt something that will prove too hard or frustrating. Some of these things can be done with a partner, or alone. As time wears on, he will need a partner more often. With Alzheimer’s patients, it is always important to have a routine or schedule to rely on. Just don’t adhere to it too strictly if you see your husband’s mood or disposition is not suited for what you think you should be doing. • Play music — Music can enhance memory. Play upbeat music you can dance to, if that is a desirable option. It’s good exercise. Calming music will help everyone relax. • Write his life story with his assistance — Help him remember his life as you both organize photos and story lines. Include special events, family, awards, special events, accomplishments and more. Put everything in a durable book that your husband can carry around and look at often. • Video break — There are numerous videos/discs designed specifically for people with Alzheimer’s in mind. For example, Innovative Caregiving Resources (
www.namenda.com) to learn about possible side effects. These websites have a lot of useful information. Keep in mind that there also could be physical difficulties that arise that have nothing to do with the Alzheimer’s or any medication. Difficulty walking or any sudden confusion could be caused by an infection or another source of pain. Careful observation followed by some “detective” work will help discern what’s going on. It’s not uncommon for this to become second nature. You might not even realize you’re taking these steps after a while. Always remember, though, that if you have investigated and tried various options and nothing seems to work, symptoms such as confusion or unsteadiness could just be part of the disease’s natural, unrelenting progress. To help cope with caring for someone with Alzheimer’s, you might want to obtain a copy of this free resource, The Indispensable Alzheimer’s Resource Kit.The short answer is both the disease’s progression and medication can be responsible for confusion and/or unsteadiness in Alzheimer’s patients. Since Alzheimer’s is a neurological disorder, it causes confusion; it also can affect a person’s ability to move around, or ambulate. Alzheimer’s effects on the brain can cause a person to have difficulty with perception, which in turn can affect how a person walks. Black strips in carpeting may appear to be an opening in the floor or something else that needs to be stepped over. A shiny floor might give the impression it’s wet. Perceptions like these understandably can cause unsteadiness. Unfortunately, medicines’ side effects also can cause unsteadiness or confusion. That’s why family members and close friends are so important. As firsthand observers of a person’s behavior, they can notice changes easier than others. It is particularly important to watch for side effects right after a new medication or dosage has been introduced. Any sudden change in behavior most likely will be due to medication because Alzheimer’s typically does not progress quickly enough to create such changes. Ask your pharmacist or visit the website of a specific medication (e.g.