Research has shown that keeping your loved one somewhat busy through the day will lead to less need for long daytime naps. When they sleep less during the day, they generally rest better at night. This is true of everyone, not just those suffering from dementia, Alzheimer’s, or Parkinson’s disease.
Physical activities can reduce wandering since you are using the pent-up energy elsewhere. Just be careful not to make them overly tired as that can trigger a host of other issues.
Activities also reduce stress and make your bond stronger.
Following are some simple things you can do together as well as some that require little on your part, leaving you free to read a book or whatever makes you happy.
1. Play music from back in their day.
It can be a great mood lifter. A recent study conducted at the University of Miami School of Medicine revealed that music therapy helped produce more of the brain’s “feel-good chemicals” including melatonin, serotonin, and prolactin in Alzheimer’s patients.
2. Give hugs liberally.
Human touch can be interpreted as love when the words no longer make sense. Holding their hand is proven to reduce stress.
3. Give them a small gift.
You don't need an occasion. Give it for no reason other than to show your love.
4. Play dominoes or cards with them.
Make allowances as the disease progresses. Matching numbers can help stay connected. There is no need for keeping a score.
5. Diffuse essential oils to add peace and calm.
Lavender is a relaxing scent proven to lower tension. The blend "Peace & Calming" from Young Living is what I use a lot when trying to minimize Sundownders or reduce stress. There are many brands and types for you to choose from. Choose what works best for you and your budget.
6. Read a book out loud to them.
Short sentences and simple plots will make it more enjoyable. Too many characters or plot twists can cause frustration. I read the Bible to mom as it brings comfort to both of us.
7. ) Buy a simple Adult coloring book and color with them.
Washable markers are my preference as they wash off without staining clothing, hands, tables, etc. Here's one I created for adults. Patterns range from simple to more intricate and all designs are original. Color Me Calm
The great thing about mandalas is there is no right or wrong. You color where and how you want, which relieves the stress of trying to remember what color it "should" be. No matter the choice, it's correct!
8. Paint their fingernails and toenails.
Be sure to clean and cut the nails first and have remover ready. (We always need it! lol) I learned a great idea from a hospice nurse today that you need to know. Use a blow drier to dry the nails faster. I was impressed when I saw her pull out the blow drier.
9. Go out for ice cream.
(Mom's favorite activity.) Even a drive-thru gives them a change of scenery.
10. Tell them you love them daily.
Several times a day is even better, especially when it's accompanied by a long hug.
11. Go for a walk.
Walk outside if the weather is nice. Indoors, like a mall or the gym if the weather isn’t good for them. Be aware of their limitations and pay close attention to physical clues indicating a need for rest. The walk will burn energy and can help reduce agitation for them later. Exercise will also help them rest better at night.
12. Blow up a balloon and play volleyball with it.
They can remain seated if balance is an issue, while you swat the balloon to them. It's great fun!
There are still fun times to be had, even in the late stages of dementia. My prayer is that you look for those and try not to dwell on all the negatives or things they can no longer do. Be happy they can still do something or anything.
God bless you!
For more tips, ideas, and information, look here.