Alzheimer’s is a scary disease, especially for the families of the diagnosed. When the time comes for specialized care, family members often worry their loved one will deteriorate rapidly. A client we interviewed through our Senior Research Center said she visited her mother one morning and found her staring blankly out the window while the caregiver was texting on her cell phone. She feared that the lack of stimulation was regular and was causing the disease to progress rapidly. Although Alzheimer’s is an intimidating sickness, what many don’t realize is simple mental stimulation can dramatically slow the progression of the disease. Letting them stare out the window for hours will cause them to retreat deeper into their minds, feeling isolated and depressed.
The Alzheimer’s Society wrote an article titled “Staying Involved and Active”. The article was meant for family members and caregivers who may be taking care of someone with Alzheimer’s and dementia, and gives examples of exercises that will greatly improve memory retention, and give those suffering from these conditions a sense of belonging. Listed below are 4 suggestions that will help increase attention span and lucidness.
- Communication – Social interaction is not only the easiest way to reach out to these patients, but the most appreciated as well. Taking the time to hear their stories, and treat them with respect even if they aren’t aware of their surroundings can give them confidence again. Making eye contact, friendly gestures, and giving light touches boosts brain activity, which is key to lucidity.
- Exercise – Each stage of Alzheimer’s is different which can make it difficult for the caregivers to know what’s appropriate based on the individual. But simple things like going for a walk, chair aerobics for someone who is immobile or even helping them stretch their limbs can get endorphins fueling and enhance their mood.
- Puzzles and Games – Keeping the mind active through games is a great way to help Alzheimer’s patients and slow down the disease. Try jigsaw puzzles, cards, board games etc. If the patient is struggling, simplify the games rules or help them when needed.
- Music – Music has a way of making people happy. It can comfort someone who is confused or sad, and make them feel more at home. If a patient is suffering with type 6 or 7 Alzheimer’s and can’t perform the previous tasks mentioned, then music not only jolts their memory but improves their mood.
Alzheimer’s is a slow killer that is equally painful for family, so the more you’re doing for the patient, the more relaxed the family will be. Stimulate all their senses. Incorporate activities that will arouse their hearing, eye sight, memory, and touch. Encourage caregivers to connect with the patient and go above and beyond in these difficult situations. The best thing you can do is try your hardest to keep them active for as long as possible, giving them a little more time with their loved ones.