Pretend that You are the Host of Your Own Cooking Show

pretend you are the host of a cooking show

I was inspired by this idea when a friend of mine actually demoed a simple guacamole recipe for her mom. She thought it would be fun to pretend to be cooking show host while her mom was the ‘audience’. My friend went through the recipe step-by-step, provided tips on how to prepare the world’s best guac, and gave her mom a taste of the finished product at the end. It reminded me of Mario Batali’s cooking show (featured above) where he describes the ingredients, the process of putting it all together, and (best of all) gives the audience members sitting at the bar a taste of what he’s prepared.

I think this activity can be readily adapted for someone with dementia with a little bit of creativity. For example, you could hand the person the garlic or cilantro to smell the aroma. Have them taste just the plain mashed avocado before other ingredients are added. Ask the person to help stir the ingredients together in the bowl. Or ask them to lay out tortilla chips on a plate for dipping. Say you are trying our a new recipe and it would really help if they could be your taste-tester. Be flexible and find what works for you and your person!

I like that it gives the ‘audience member’ the option to interject comments or otherwise add to the interaction, but they are not pressured to do so. Depending on the person, they might be involved more passively, however, they are still being engaged throughout the entire process. But be ready in case your person would like to jump in and have a suitable activity in mind (such as the suggestions above). Do most of the prep work in advance before getting the person involved, so it is mostly a matter of assembling things together (e.g. chop garlic beforehand, open and scoop out avocado) — make sure your mise en place up to par! It is also best if you can use a clean and clutter-free counter space for this activity. Set out only the items that you will be using, and remove anything that will just get in the way or create clutter. Simplify, simplify!

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Wash Dirty (or clean) Dishes

dirty dish

I am the type of person that does not like other people cleaning my dishes. When I do receive help, I am often thinking about how wrong the placement of the dishes in the dishwasher is, or how the helper is certainly not scrubbing quite as thoroughly as I would be. OK, so maybe I’m a little bit of a dirty dish control freak! The point being, when someone does everything for the person with memory loss, it does not necessarily make the person feel all warm and fuzzy inside. It might cause them some anxiety or agitation because they’d rather be the person scrubbing away. Likewise, the caregiver may have a difficult time receiving help from the person with dementia because perhaps they believe the person will not clean the dishes as immaculately as they could. The solution? Relinquish some control and solicit the person’s help to wash those dishes (jeez!). Even if the dishes are not washed exactly as you would have done them or in the same amount of time, it is good for the person with dementia to feel purposeful and engaged in daily activities. Still concerned that the person may miss some stuck on grime? Offer the person a batch of already cleaned dishes that they can wash and dry. Be sure to remove hazardous items, such as knives and heavy skillets. Plastic cups and plates are a good choice because there is virtually no risk of dropping and breaking them. Monitor the person to ensure they are deriving enjoyment throughout the process. This activity can be very open-ended, and he/she can be involved for as long as they desire. Also, be sure to praise the person’s efforts!

 

 

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Check out our Fall Conference on November 21st!

Please join us for our 5th Annual Fall Conference “A Meaningful Life with Alzheimer’s Disease” in collaboration with Wayne State University’s Institute of Gerontology. We invite healthcare professionals, caregivers, family members, and individuals in the early stages of memory loss to be our guests at this educational conference taking place on Friday, November 21st from 7:30am-3:15pm at Schoolcraft College’s Vista Tech Center in Livonia, MI. Breakfast and lunch will be provided and five (5) continuing education units are available for social workers, nurses, nursing home administrators, occupational therapists, physical therapists and speech therapists.

Fall Conference

Attend this event and you will gain powerful insight into the true experiences of living with dementia. In addition, presenters will discuss practical applications for implementing person driven care and methods to enhance quality of life. You will hear from individuals whose lives have been personally affected by this disease, be engaged through interactive activities, and discover resources that are available to assist families through the journey.

We look forward to seeing you there! To learn more and to register, please visit www.alz.org/gmc. Questions? Call (248) 996-1053 or email trusso@alz.org.

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Play with a Nerf Football

We are currently in the midst of football season! I trust this is exciting news for many of us, as football has been the most popular sport in America 30 years running. Men in particular may be passionate about the sport, and it may even form part of their identify. However, as dementia progresses, the person’s attention span will decrease and watching a full 3-hour game may no longer be possible (You can pretty much rule out watching a full DAY of football on Sundays). Instead, you may wish to consider some of these fun, football-related activity ideas.

nerf football

Your person may enjoy playing with a Nerf Football, which is safer and softer than a traditional football. You can be completely creative in how the Nerf Football is played with. For instance, throwing the ball back and forth may be suitable to someone that becomes confused with complex rules.

You could invest in a ‘football rug’ (shown below, about $20.00 at most retailers) or create your own makeshift version. Your person might enjoy throwing a pass to you as you stand in the end zone or punting the ball to the opposite end of the field. You can cheer and congratulate the person as they secure the game-winning rushing touchdown!

football_field_rug touchdown football rug

 

Also, do not forget to reminisce about the person’s experiences related to football! Sharing favorite sport memories can be a fun and engaging activity in itself.

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Have a Mocktail Hour

Just like with food, we frequently have emotions attached to alcohol and it is often prominently featured in our social gatherings and celebrations. In fact, you may be hard pressed to find a ‘dry’ Christmas party or wedding. No one likes to be the ‘odd man out’, so if your person with dementia can no longer safely consume alcohol, you might consider these mocktail alternatives. Even if alcohol is not off-limits, mocktails are just plain fun and they are typically easier to assemble than their spiked counterparts.

Hold a mocktail hour with your person by putting on groovy music and dancing the afternoon away. Let your creativity run wild!

Want another reason to indulge in virgin refreshments? Dehydration is rampant among the elderly, particularly those with dementia. Severe dehydration can exacerbate dementia symptoms, resulting in increased confusion or even hospitalization. Mocktails can help encourage your person to stay hydrated and have a ball while doing it!

Ready to create your own non-boozy drinks? Check the recipes below found on this website. Needless to say, these are just a few suggestions for mocktail creations. By doing a simple Google search, you can turn up plenty more ideas to keep you sipping.

Cran-Apple Cider

new-years-mocktails_cran-apple-cider

Rim glass with cinnamon sugar. Combine equal parts cranberry juice and apple cider. Garnish with a rock-candy swizzle stick.

 Shirley Temple

new-years-mocktails_shirley-temple

Rim glass with pink Pop Rocks. Add 4 Tbsp grenadine syrup to 16 ounces ginger ale. Garnish with maraschino cherry.

 

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Make Baked Apples

Fall is in the air! Temperatures are dropping and days are becoming shorter. What better way to welcome in the season than with a delicious Fall cooking staple? The wonderful, nutrient packed apple! Baked apple desserts are undeniably yummy, and they require relatively little prep work. This is a great choice of activity for individuals who have cooking experience, as it may conjure up fond memories of being in the kitchen. Make an effort to reminisce with the person throughout the task. Even individuals without a cooking background will surely enjoy the enticing smells of apples baking alongside aromatic cinnamon and vanilla (these recipes will make your whole house smell amazing).

Try this recipe or make modifications to suit your tastes.

baked-apple-slices

  • Choose a variety of apple that is ideal for baking, such as Granny Smith, Honeycrisp or Fuji. Any firm, non-mealy apple will do.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Peel, core, and slice 6 apples. This process can be simplified and expedited with an inexpensive apple peeler.
  • Grease a baking dish with butter.
  • Mix 2 tbs brown sugar, 1 tsp vanilla extract, 1tsp nutmeg, and 3 tsp ground cinnamon in a bowl.
  • Layer 1/3 apple slices in greased baking dish. Sprinkle with 1/3 of the sugar mixture. Repeat twice.
  • Bake apples uncovered for 30 minutes, then add 3 1/2 tbs water to the dish. Bake 15 minutes more or until tender.

Or, try the less prep intensive microwaved version

  • Peel (or don’t), core, and slice 1 apple.
  • Place apple slices in a freezer bag with 1 tsb sugar, 1/4 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp cornstarch, and 1tbs water. Shake the freezer bag to coat apple slices with mixture.
  • Open the freezer bag just slightly to vent. Microwave for 2 minutes or until apple is tender.
  • CAREFULLY remove apple slices from microwaved bag. Enjoy plain or over vanilla ice cream.

Want to mix it up? Opt for baked apple chips. These could not be simpler to make.

baked apple chips

 

  • Preheat oven to 275 degrees.
  • Remove apple core from 2 apples.
  • Thinly slice apples (Be mindful of safety and consider who is best to do this).
  • Place apple slices on a parchment lined cookie sheet.
  • Sprinkle apples with cinnamon and bake for 2 hours. Flip slices over after 1 hour of baking.

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Tips for Managing Dental Hygiene

geriatric dentist

Dental care can be a challenge for individuals with Alzheimer’s because of their inability to understand the purpose of brushing teeth or to accept help from others.

Tips for helping the person with dementia manage dental care:

  • Provide short, simple instructions: “hold your toothbrush,” “put paste on the brush,” and “brush your top teeth,”etc.
  • Use a mirroring technique — hold tooth brush and show person how to brush his/her teeth or brush your teeth at the same time
  • Brush teeth or dentures after each meal and floss daily
  • Remove and clean dentures every night
  • Brush person’s gums, tongue and roof of mouth
  • If person refuses to open his/her mouth, try using oral hygiene aids available from the dentist to prop the mouth open
  • Strained facial expressions during dinner or refusal to eat may indicate oral discomfort
  • If you notice dental or gum problems, take the person to the dentist
  • Notify the dentist in advance that person has Alzheimer’s so that an oral care routine can be developed

 

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