Helping Your Loved One Remain Active and Engaged – Part I
One difficult aspect of caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia can be watching them become less active and less interested in doing the things they used to do. It can be very painful to watch your loved one’s zest for living diminish or even begin to fade away altogether. What’s more, it can be very painful and frustrating feeling like you don’t know how to help them. Over the next few months, we’ll cover a variety of avenues through which you may be able to help your loved one remain more active and engaged.
Speaking broadly, you might need to temper your expectations with regards to what types of activities you can pursue with your loved one. To some extent, this might simply be a matter of you reframing your mindset. Over the years or, in fact, over decades, you have developed expectations about the types of things your loved one enjoys. For example, if your loved one was always very active in a particular sport like golf or tennis, you might be inclined to think along those same lines when suggesting new activities. However, someone who loved golfing before dementia isn’t necessarily going to enjoy miniature golf with dementia. You’ll want to expand your horizons and consider different types of activities that perhaps didn’t hold any interest for your loved one in the past.
In your search for hobbies and interests for you and your loved one, it can be helpful to think in terms of a few broad categories. There are a wide range of activities that can be pursued in the home. These might be things that your loved one can enjoy with you, another family member, or a hired caregiver. There are many outdoor activities that can be enjoyed in the back yard, around the neighborhood, or in a nearby park. On occasion, you’ll want to consider outings to museums, historical landmarks, and other similar destinations. While extended travel is generally not practical, short excursions to familiar places might be possible, depending on your specific circumstances. Of course, if you have relatives nearby, family gatherings are good way to stay connected. Also, if you have access to a supportive environment such as a senior center, there might be some group activities that your loved one could enjoy.
This process will probably entail a lot of trial and error. You might have to go through many different activities that don’t stick until you discover a few that do. Although we’re speaking mainly in terms of helping your loved one who is still with you at home, most of these categories of activities would still apply to a loved one who resides in an assisted living community. However, your role in that situation might be more of an advocate rather than an organizer. Regardless of your loved one’s living situation, you’ll surely want to identify every means possible to help them live the best life they can.