Creativity is Key
By: Michelle Remold
When someone is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia, finding ways to interact with them can be difficult. During the early stages these interactions can be easy to create, but as the disease progresses it can be hard to either create these interactions or to find ways to make the desired connections. That is why it is important to be creative when interacting with those who have Alzheimer’s or dementia.
The ways to interact with those with Alzheimer’s or dementia can vary greatly and can provide opportunities to create memories. When I talk with family and friends about their experiences with loved ones who had either Alzheimer’s or dementia, the stories I hear often have to do with creative ideas they came up with to spend time with them.
Recently I spoke with a friend about how she and her family would come up with ideas to interact with her mother. I often am surprised at what methods they came up with. She has told me stories about making gifts with her for holidays and letting her decide who to give them to. She has also told me about creating games to play with her mother. For example, she said they would take bowls and put different objects in them and ask her what she was holding. She said that if her mother didn’t know what it was, they would let her look at it, help her figure out what it was and then she would get a small prize when she got it correct. I know my grandma used to have ‘school time’ with my grandpa. My grandma would have him work on letters, basic math, draw pictures, and write his name. It allowed her to feel like she has helping in some way.
The stories and memories I hear reiterate that interaction is incredibly important. It doesn’t matter what ideas, crafts, or games you come up with, but they all allow you to spend quality time with the person who has Alzheimer’s or dementia. Not all games or activities will work for everyone, but that is why, when interacting with those who have Alzheimer’s or dementia, creativity is key.
Michelle graduated from the University of Northern Iowa with her Bachelor of Arts in Gerontology: Social Sciences and a minor in Family Studies. She is currently pursuing her Master’s degree in Aging Studies and Nursing Home Administration from Minnesota State University Mankato.