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Posts Tagged ‘Ideas’

Favorite Things

Favorite Things

By: Michelle Remold

I often hear that finding activities for those with Alzheimer’s and dementia is difficult. Sometimes people have told me, they just don’t know what to do for activities with them. I always think that we all have hobbies and activities that we enjoy. I love to read and have three lists of books that I would like to complete reading. My grandpa enjoyed woodworking, painting, and gardening. As his Alzheimer’s progressed he wasn’t able to do these things any longer, but my grandma still let him have a smaller form of his garden to work on while he was still at home. Since it was something he enjoyed, it was a fitting activity for him to participate in.

I think that it is important that different facilities get to know their residents so it becomes easier to find activities that they might enjoy. While in college, a friend and I volunteered at a local nursing home in Cedar Falls, IA. We volunteered to help residents bake on Thursday afternoons. There were a few residents with dementia that would come to bake with us. Everyone loved it. They would share stories about potlucks, baking with grandkids, or learning to bake from their mothers or grandmothers.

I have heard of and have seen different dementia care wings where the wing is set up like a town and they have different rooms that reflect places that one might find within a town. There are ice cream parlors, workshops, car shops, or salons that allow people to ‘work’ on things that they might have partaken in before. While having residents play catch maybe a fun activity, I think that it is important to have them engage in meaningful activities. If someone enjoys washing tables, let them wash the tables or let them set out the silverware at meal times. Maybe have them help plant flowers for a garden or make decorations for different holidays. Whatever it is, it is important to find the skills and hobbies that people have so it is a little easier to find and create various activities for those with Alzheimer’s and dementia.

???????????????????????????????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.

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Favorite Things

By: Michelle Remold

It is said when someone has Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia that they become a ‘shell’ of the person they once were. I will not argue against this statement because the person isn’t the same person they were before. However, I do think it is important to look for and cherish the moments where glimpses of the person you knew comes through.

While reminiscing about visiting my grandpa in the nursing home, I noticed that some of the things we did the most were things s he enjoyed before he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and were things that seemed the most ‘normal’. I will start with some information on my grandpa. He loved being outdoors and would go for walks everyday or spend summers fishing and gardening, he had a sweet tooth (ice cream, Lemon Meringue pie, and circus peanuts were among his favorites), played the harmonica, collected model cars, and loved baseball.

It seemed that when we involved one of the things he enjoyed the most was when glimpses of his personality came through. We would take him on walks and he would point out trees and flowers, he would sit through televised baseball games and cheer on the Minnesota Twins, if we brought his harmonica with he would blow into even if the songs that once rang through his house no longer came out, but what he enjoyed most of all was when we brought him coffee with a slice of cake, an ice cream sundae, or his favorite pie.

I think that it is important to remember the person’s favorite things and try to incorporate them as much as possible. It might be having their favorite chair in their room or bringing them their favorite food, but remembering what they liked before and incorporating it into the ‘new normal’ can make the transition a little easier.

???????????????????????????????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.

 

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Speak To The Heart

By: Michelle Remold

We often do things that are seemingly minute to us, but these things can mean a great deal to others. Imagine that you have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia. Little by little your memory fades away. Not only would you forget how to do things like use the microwave and cook, but you forget your family and friends and are no longer able to express your feelings; however, you are in there somewhere.

This would make it very difficult not only for you to communicate with others, but for others to communicate with you as well. If you are unable to use words to communicate with others, it is important to find other ways to communicate with them. The small things we can do to communicate with those who have Alzheimer’s or dementia are numerous. You can communicate through touch: a hug, holding hands, a back rub; you can communicate with them by being attentive to their needs: combing/brushing their hair, cleaning their glasses; or talking to them and not expecting a response back: tell them how nice they look, how nice their smile is – everyone likes a compliment.

All in all, at the end of the day the way you do things like hold their hand and give them a reassuring smile, that is what lets them know it will be okay. These seemingly insignificant things are what speak volumes, often without having to say a single word; these things are what speak to someone’s heart.

So when it becomes difficult to hold a conversation with someone who has Alzheimer’s or dementia, try holding their hand or giving them a smile. You may not know what they are thinking, but that smile or a pat on the back might be just what they need. It’s not always the big things, but rather the small things that speak to the heart.

???????????????????????????????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.

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Many Different Paths To The Same Destination

By: Michelle Remold

Each week as I sit down to write this blog, I go through the same events. I start by reading through my list of topic ideas and ask for input from others who have experience with Alzheimer’s or dementia. This helps me steer away from using ideas that may be too similar and gives me ideas that I may not have thought of before. While going through this same series of events for this blog post, I began looking back on other ideas and stories that have been shared with me and something stuck out to me; this has become my discussion topic for this week.

What stuck out to me is that not one of the stories have shared commonalities in how loved ones with Alzheimer’s or dementia  were interacted with or what techniques were used to engage them with family and friends . Each story or experience has been unique and has reiterated to me that everyone is different and everyone with the disease is different. It has also shown that there is not just one way to interact with people that have Alzheimer’s or dementia.

As I was getting ready to write this post, a story was shared with me and has stuck with me all day. The story comes from a friend of mine who usually shares unique ideas on how to engage and interact with those who have Alzheimer’s and dementia; most of which I don’t think I would have ever come up with. Today however, her story was about birthdays. She said something they did for one of her mother’s birthdays was write something about her for each year she had been alive (70 things for a 70th birthday). The items written can include things like a trait you admire, a lesson learned from them, recipes taught, and many more. Not only does it give loved ones a chance to look back on memories, but once it’s done, it shows the person with Alzheimer’s or dementia how much they have truly impacted everyone.

At first I thought that this would be a great idea for anyone who was in the early stages of the disease, but I soon changed my mind. Why not use something like this for anyone, no matter what stage of the disease they are in? It would be fun to look back on memories and times spent with a loved one who has Alzheimer’s or dementia. You also never know what will get a response from them; for me all the work would be worth it for a smile or a hug.

I think that it’s important to remember that we are all different and everyone who has Alzheimer’s or dementia is different as well. What I have found to work well, may not work well for everyone, but that is a benefit of sharing stories and memories. It provides ideas on how to try to interact with loved ones as the disease progresses. Some ideas may work well, others may not, and you may find your own ways to interact with and engage them. The main thing is to not stop trying, you never know what they will respond to and a response that is as simple as a smile, might make it all worth it.

???????????????????????????????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.

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They Have Dementia, What Can They Do?

By: Michelle Remold

Recently I overheard a conversation about someone’s family member who had dementia. They were discussing how they disliked that their loved one seemingly spent all day in their room. One of the people appeared to pacify this concern they had by stating, “They have dementia, what else can they do?” This statement shocked me, but sadly this wasn’t the first time I have heard a statement similar to this. In the past I have been asked if I had activity ideas for those with Alzheimer’s or dementia because this person simply didn’t know what to do with them. I think that it is sad that people think just because they have dementia or Alzheimer’s the person is destined to spend their days just sitting in their rooms, when the reality is that any stimulation is good.

I have a plethora of activity ideas for those with dementia or Alzheimer’s. I think that it is often overlooked how basic the stimulation can be. I have taken people down to play BINGO, sometimes they would have moments where they seemed understand the game, but most of the time they didn’t. I also have become increasingly comfortable sitting and just talking with them. Sometimes I am not sure how much I am saying is understood, but it’s better than nothing. When I would take my memory program to facilities while still at the University of Northern Iowa, staff would often tell me who would and wouldn’t participate in the discussions. It often happened that the people I was told wouldn’t talk, would participate in the discussion. It didn’t always pertain to what we were talking about, but it solicited a response. My group members and I would listen contentedly and respond, sometimes more people joined in and we had great discussions going. Occasionally some visual aids or our beach ball would get a reaction from some people. I remember at one facility we had a package of pencils and everyone was intrigued by them. We talked with the activity director and everyone left with a pencil.

It doesn’t have to be complex activities to stimulate people. It could be a conversation, puzzles, a book, music, games, and so many more other activities that can prove stimulating to different people. Any sensory motor activities are great. I don’t think there are any limits to the activities that can be offered to those with Alzheimer’s or dementia, sometimes you just need to be accommodating. Instead of stating, “They have dementia what else can they do?” I would pose this question instead, “What activities can I do that would provide them with the stimulation they need?”

008Michelle 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.

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It’s the Thought That Counts

By: Michelle Remold

As the Thanksgiving weekend comes to a close, I can’t help but anticipate the rest of the holiday season.  This time of year is definitely my favorite and I try to volunteer as much as possible. This time of year also makes me think about ways to include loved ones who are in skilled nursing facilities, especially those with Alzheimer’s and dementia.

When I think back to when my grandpa was in the nursing home, some of my best memories come from the holiday season. We couldn’t put a tree up in his room, but we always had a fake Poinsettia for his night stand and brought a real one for the nursing station.  We also would bring a few sheets of window clings for his window. We would bring holiday themed coloring books, color pictures with him, and hang them on his walls for decorations.

When we got around to baking cookies, a tray would find its way up to him. My grandpa had a sweet tooth, so cookies were his favorite part. We would also bring cookies up for the nurses and would pass out cookies and other desserts to the residents who were able to eat them. We would wrap presents and take them up to the nursing home for him to open. During one of my grandpa’s last holidays, my cousin played the piano and we all sang carols for him. My brother and I even would dance with him to the music playing in the hallways.

As the holidays roll around, people tend to become very busy, but it’s important to remember that it is the small things that make holidays great. It could be stopping up to put window clings or bringing up coffee and cookies and just enjoying each other’s company or a short note. I think the most important thing is to make them feel special and remembered.

They may not remember in a few moments what gifts they had just received, what pictures were taken, or what songs were sung, but does it really matter?  For a few moments they had a smile on their face and to me that’s all that matters. After all it’s the thought that counts.

008Michelle 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.

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