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60 Fun Activities for Dementia Patients and Their Caregivers

Monday , October 12 , 2020

60 Fun Activities for Dementia Patients and Their Caregivers

Being a family caregiver is a highly rewarding experience, but it can be challenging at times. Caregivers of dementia patients, especially, can feel like they work and work and work and don’t make a difference.

That doesn’t have to be the case.

Part of being a great caregiver is learning about activities that will help engage someone who has been diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer’s, regardless of the level of the disease. Staying active and engaged is beneficial for both physical and cognitive health and can help ease anxious or aggressive behaviors. On top of that, activities done together can help form a bond of trust and security between the caregiver and their loved one.

Of course, many caregivers are thrown into the role by chance and have no formal training or education.

If you’re like the millions of other adults unexpectedly caring for an older friend or family member, you likely have no idea which activities are appropriate for a dementia patient and which are not.

To help keep you and your loved one busy and engaged, we’ve rounded up a list of 60 meaningful activities you can take part in together. Keep reading to learn more:

 

Planning Dementia Friendly Activities 

Where is a good place to begin when planning activities for a loved one with dementia? A good rule is to meet them where they are. Some good guidelines include:

  • Avoid pointing out what they can no longer do. Focus on options that compensate for skills they may have lost. For example, if your loved one can no longer read, try browsing together for audio books that they might enjoy. Use a computer or phone?
  • Keep track of skills and abilities. Keeping track of the skills and abilities as they deteriorate is vital. Can your loved one able to go to the grocery store and shop? Can they plan and cook a simple meal?
  • Be aware of physical limitations. Many older adults, not just those with dementia, suffer from changes to hearing, eyesight, flexibility, and more. Some physical limitations may require modifications to activities so they are still suitable.
  • Plan appropriate social events. People with dementia often feel anxious or overwhelmed in large gatherings or an unfamiliar environment. Try to set up gatherings with smaller groups or in a 1-to-1 setting to keep things comfortable.
  • Focus on enjoyment not success. What does your loved one find entertaining? Find activities that they naturally enjoy and lose your preconceived notions of how it “should” be done to alleviate stress.

5 Fun Activities for Someone with Dementia 

Keeping in mind that every dementia patient has different preferences and abilities, there are some activities that will likely be enjoyed by all. Some accommodation may be required, but here are some of our favorites:

  • Teach the Caregiver: Ask your loved one to teach you something he/she loves to do and/or an activity he/she has known or done for such a long time that they still remember it. Have them demonstrate a skill he/she can still do through “muscle memory,” such as tell you about what life was like in the past or something he/she is passionate about. Your loved one may need to show you, versus tell you, a story, depending upon their language abilities. Encourage this method of storytelling.
  • Read a Book Together: Read a book to your loved one. Let them pick the topic area. Pick one with emotional and sensory content to help with comprehension. Short chapters and a great plot help, too.
  • Hand Massage: Reduces anxiety, perception of pain and difficult behaviors. Begin by covering your loved one’s hands with a wet, warm washcloth for a minute. Massage using a scented cream or lotion they enjoy. Lavender is a good scent as it is both stimulating and relaxing. Always be gentle – older adults’ skin can bruise easily. Follow this protocol: http://www.ecarediary.com/viewblog.aspx?BlogID=620
  • Sniff the Spices: Select up to five herbs and spices from your loved one’s kitchen and ask, “I want to learn more about these spices. Can you teach me? Let’s smell them together.” Smell them one at a time. Imagine together what kinds of foods they would go with. Ask if they remember using these spices in dishes served during holidays and family gatherings.
  • I Made a Difference: In what way has your loved one made a difference to others such as his/her spouse, children, parents, siblings, friends, community, co-workers? How did they contribute to their field of work? This is an important part of life review and can help self-esteem and life satisfaction. Share the ways you’ve made a difference, too, if this is helpful and acceptable to both of you.

By being aware of your loved one’s interests and capabilities, you can build a list of activities that will keep them engaged and encouraged. For our full list of 60 Meaningful Activities to do With Dementia Patients, please contact us at (908) 927-0500 or email us here.

Posted in: Dementia

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What is an Ethical Will and Do You Need One?

Monday , October 5 , 2020

What is an Ethical Will and Do You Need One?

Have you ever heard someone mention their “ethical will” and wondered what in the world they were talking about? We’re here to tell you what you need to know.

First, an “ethical will” or “legacy letter” is not legally binding. They don’t bequeath assets or spell out your last wishes.

Ethical wills are documents that communicate values and life experiences to your family or loved ones. They express your thoughts and feelings about what’s most important to you to those you care about. They can be created by a person of any faith – or of no faith at all.

And many people find that writing down their personal history eases the existential pain about the end of life.

Keep reading to learn more:

How do I Write an Ethical Will? 

Unlike a Last Will and Testament, ethical wills can take many forms. Because they are not a legal document, you are free to be as creative as you want.

Many people choose to simply write up a document, often just a single page. Others create slideshows, photo albums, recipe collections, or a gathering of favorite quotes.

The document (or collection) can be a one-time creation, something you add to at each of life’s milestones (retirement, the birth of a grandchild, etc.), or something you work on throughout your life. It can be intended for your children, grandchildren, spouse or partner, best friend, and more.

There really are no rules!

How do I Create My Ethical Will? 

According to AARP, you should begin your ethical will by “jotting down notes about your beliefs, life lessons and hopes for the future. You might include details about your family history. You also may want to express gratitude toward family and friends or request forgiveness for past actions.”

If you plan on creating a multi-media project, you might also start gathering photos, collecting favorite quotes, filming video, and more.

Ask yourself, “What have I learned during my lifetime that I’d like to share?”

Here are some topics that others have chosen to include in their ethical wills. Feel free to use these questions as you wish, skip some, or add your own:

Values

  • What values are important to me?
  • What are my spiritual beliefs?
  • Are there any special sayings, traditions, or rituals that have been passed down through the family?

Thoughts

  • What would I like to pass down to my grandchildren or other loved ones?
  • What books and movies influenced me and in what way?

Words of Wisdom

  • What advice can I offer to others about living their lives? Do I have any wisdom to pass on to the next generation?
  • What has life taught me?
  • What have I learned from my parents or grandparents that I want to pass on?
  • If I could change one thing in the world, what would I change and why?

Life Experiences

  • What do I want my family to know about me that they might not already be aware of?
  • Have I ever had a life-altering experience? How did this affect me?
  • What was the most significant/meaningful moment in my life?
  • What made my life worth living? A special relationship? Work? Children? Hobbies?
  • Did I fulfill all the dreams of my youth?
  • Who is or was the most important person in my life? What did I learn from them?
  • Were there any others who greatly impacted my life? Who?
  • What am I most proud of?

Decisions

  • What was the most difficult decision I ever made?
  • Is there anything in life I wish I had done differently? Do I need to request forgiveness or make amends with anyone?
  • If I knew I only had one year left to live, what would I do?
  • How did I choose the recipients for my charitable gifts and financial inheritance?

Creating an ethical will is simple, fun, and FREE. Why not start on your own project today and give your loved ones something to cherish for years to come?

Posted in: Aging

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How Seniors can Socialize Safely in the Wake of COVID-19

Monday , July 13 , 2020

How Seniors can Socialize Safely in the Wake of COVID-19

Stay home as much as possible. That’s what we’ve been hearing for months in the wake of COVID-19.

And for good reason.

Experts believe that coronavirus is mainly spread from person to person – sometimes by people who aren’t even showing symptoms. So, it makes sense to avoid others if you want to avoid getting sick. This advice is especially important for older adults, as the risk for severe infection increases with age.

Unfortunately, avoiding others isn’t as easy as it seems. Staying home all the time and not seeing friends or family members can be emotionally difficult, even for the most introverted among us.

Loneliness and social isolation can have a significant effect on mood and can lead to depression and anxiety. When the condition is more long-term, as is happening now, isolation can lead to more severe health problems, such as memory issues and increased risk of heart attack.

Luckily, there are some fun and easy ways that seniors can help combat feelings of loneliness (while also staying healthy and safe). Here are a few suggestions:

Be Neighborly

Joining your neighbor for a cup of joe isn’t currently an option, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t check in on the people that live nearby. Consider swapping home cooked meals or treats and leaving them on each other’s doorsteps. Or try swapping books and movies in the same manner, and having a weekly phone call to share your thoughts.

Write a Note

Old-fashioned letter writing has fallen out of favor since email and texting have become mainstream. But there’s something to be said for snail mail. These days, when mailboxes are filled with bills and junk, it’s a rare treat to find a note from a friend. Letters don’t have to be lengthy, perhaps just a note to say “hi” or to give an update on your family.

Hit the Streets

Sick of sitting at home? Social distancing doesn’t mean you can’t get out of the house, and parks and trails are open in most communities. As long as you maintain a distance of at least six feet and wear a mask, you can enjoy a walk or bicycle ride with a friend.

Pick up the Phone

Nothing can replace face-to-face socializing, but a phone or video call are still great options. Call a friend, family member, or someone you haven’t talked to in ages and catch up. Talk about how you’ve been coping with staying at home, what you’ve been cooking, or favorite television shows to help make it through quarantine. Trust us – everyone wants to hear a friendly voice these days!

Virtual Group Activities

Video chats aren’t JUST for chatting. Many activities can be adapted for the virtual realm, including parties, card games, or a simple meal together. Some groups are even offering larger group activities, such as exercise classes or bingo nights, online. Check out Senior Planet, and organization that offers courses, classes, and other programs for older adults online.

A Note on In-Person Visits

While it’s not advisable, many people are choosing to meet with family and friends in real life. If you find yourself in this boat, there are some steps you can take to remain as safe as possible:

  • Delay or cancel your visit if you or your loved one have had symptoms of COVID-19 or have been exposed to the virus within the last 14 days
  • Remember that the more people you interact with, the higher your risk of contracting the virus. Try to keep gatherings as mall as possible
  • Visit with friends outdoors as whenever possible, or sit in a very well-ventilated room
  • Arrange seating to allow for social distancing (at least six feet apart)
  • Don’t shake hands, kiss, or hug
  • Wear a face mask and ask those around you to do the same
  • Wash hands often and limit contact with frequently touched surfaces

Final Thoughts

Social isolation doesn’t have to end in loneliness. There are many fun and creative ways you can use to stay in touch with those you love. Tell us: How have you been maintaining relationships in the wake of COVID-19?

Posted in: Health

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