Archive for Activities for Severe Dementia

Register with Alzheimer’s Association TrialMatch

Clinical trials are essential to advancing Alzheimer’s disease research at a time when Alzheimer’s is reaching epidemic proportions. Through clinical studies conducted over the last 20 years, scientists have made tremendous strides in understanding how Alzheimer’s affects the brain. It is only through clinical studies that we will develop and test promising new strategies for treatment, prevention, diagnosis, and ultimately, a cure for Alzheimer’s disease.

To learn more about how to participate in clinical trial, watch the video below about TrialMatch (a free, clinical-trial matching service).

Leave a Comment

Make Your Own Holiday Presents – Gifts in a Jar

 

red presents

I seriously cannot be the only person who has not done their holiday shopping yet…right? Well, if you’ve procrastinated like me, or if you have a few people still remaining on your gift list, consider an easy, do-it-yourself present that your person with dementia may enjoying helping you with. In searching the internet, I encountered dozens of potential ideas for this post, from diy christmas ornaments, to cookie recipes, to personalized coffee mugs and more. If you are reading this and not already familiar with Pinterest, let me just say….I LOVE Pinterest! I’m actually what you would call pin-sessed. Not only is Pining a fun (and addicting) past time, but there are a plethora of activity and recipe ideas which you and your person with Alzheimer’s may enjoy trying. Just saying!

So after doing my research, I finally settled on a “gifts in a jar” theme. These really appealed to me because of their versatility (did you know you can make so many different gifts in a jar??) and their easy execution. Chances are, you probably have many of the things needed for this activity already in your home.

In the example below, this diy gift in a jar contains a “fudgy brownie mix”. Honestly, who wouldn’t want to receive that as a present? Your person with dementia can assist in this activity by dumping in the different layers of ingredients, one at a time. This will probably be easiest if you offer guidance and supervision throughout the process. For instance, you could pre-measure the quantity of flour needed for the bottom, position a funnel over the mouth of the jar, then assist your person in pouring the flour in through the funnel. It may work best to repeat the process of pre-measuring, funnel, and guided assistance with the remaining layers. Of course, the amount of hands on supervision you provide will vary depending on what stage of the disease your person in living with. Your person may also enjoy nibbling on the chocolate chips (which are added to the jar last), or reminiscing about pleasant memories involving food and baking. Many older adults experience a great deal of fulfillment from sharing their stories with others, and it is important to offer opportunities which encourage this.

Homemade-Fudgy-Brownie-Mix-in-a-Jar

Below I’ve included the ingredient list for this gift in a jar, as well as recipe instructions for the recipient of this gift. For more details, please visit the SixFiguresUnder official website. Happy Holidays everyone! 🙂

Homemade Fudgy Brownie Mix

  • 1 cup + 2 tbs flour
  • 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  •  1/3 cup cocoa
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Instructions for Using Homemade Brownie Mix

Mix contents of the jar with:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2/3 cup oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Pour into a greased 9″ square pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes or until an inserted knife comes out clean.

Leave a Comment

Play with Gak or Silly Putty

gak-5silly puttyhomemade-gak-recipe2

This blog is no stranger to sensory-based activities. And why not? As dementia progresses, sensory stimulation is a prime way to foster meaningful connection, particularly as language ability fades. So here goes, another fun-filled sensory activity sure to tap into your creative side!

Does anyone remember playing with Gak or Silly Putty as a kid? And by ‘play’ I mean stretch, goosh and mush, and use the silly putty to lift the newsprint off of newspaper or comics. These can be great choices of activities because there is no right or wrong way to perform, and there is no established beginning or end point. In many ways, it really is fail-proof. However, always ensure safety and be cautious that your person does not try to ingest the putty/gak.

Gak and putty can be purchased at many toy retailers. Also, the web is chock full of DIY gak and putty recipes (usually with as little as 4 ingredients). Another plus, if you make your own, you can experiment with different colors.

Take, for instance, this homemade gak recipe accessed from livingwellmom.com, which takes less than 5 minutes to make and requires only school glue, water, Borax (can be found in the Laundry aisle) and food coloring (optional).

Happy gak-ing everybody! 😉

 

Leave a Comment

Brush or Stroke Hair

As caregivers, it is important for us to identify passive activities, as well as action-oriented ones, in which to engage our loved ones. Especially as the disease progresses further and the person’s abilities diminish, passive involvement may become more appropriate. Another plus: passive activities are extremely versatile — virtually anyone at any stage of dementia can find pleasure in them.

brush or stroke hair

Have you ever had someone brush or stroke your hair? It’s enjoyable for a lot of us (just look at the smile on that baby!). Brushing or playing with your loved one’s hair is an excellent way to foster meaningful connection, especially if language is no longer accessible. In the absence of words, we can communicate love, care, and reassurance through our touch. Older adults in particular may benefit from this type of interaction as many are touch deprived.

At your next opportunity, try this out with your person with dementia. You could simply touch the person’s hair, or brush, stroke, braid, style, wash, etc. See if you notice any nonverbal feedback from your person that indicates whether they are enjoying what you are doing (e.g. eyes closing, body relaxing). Of course, if you observe signs that suggest pain, such as grimacing or wincing, do not continue with that type or intensity of touch.

References

Love, K., & Femia, E. (2014). The comfort of touch. Health Progress, 95(6), 28-31.

Nicholls, D., Chang, E., Johnson, A., & Edenborough, M. (2013). Touch, the essence of caring for people with end-stage dementia: A mental health perspective in Namaste Care. Aging & Mental Health, 17(5), 571-578. doi:10.1080/13607863.2012.751581

Leave a Comment

Use a Twiddle Muff

twiddle muff - bluetwiddle muff - cat

 

When you hear the word “activities”, what do you think of?  Maybe you picture arts & crafts, bingo, card games, or woodworking.  To participate in such activities, one must: follow instruction, sequence multiple steps, maintain mental focus, etc., etc. Executing such activities effectively involves use of higher order cognitive processes that are eventually eroded in dementia. Activities need to be simplified more and more extensively as the disease progresses. As your person enters the late stage of the disease, even familiar activities may become too complex.

However, it is critical that those with late stage dementia still be engaged. Keep in mind that “activities” may no longer resemble activities that we would traditionally think of. Reading a book out loud to the person with dementia, listening to a song together, or looking out the front window are all activities suitable for individuals in the later stages of the disease. At this point in the disease process, sensory stimulation or ‘passive’ activities tend to work best.

For someone in the late stage of Alzheimer’s, the Twiddle Muff may be an ideal choice of activity. The friendly, soft and cozy muff, contains a soft, squeezable ball tethered within the center of the muff. It also has three exchangeable gadgets: a sealed satin bag containing movable marbles, a strand of textured ribbons, a loop of colorful wooden beads, as well as a soft, faux suede pocket for personal essentials and a velcro tab patch.

The Twiddle®Cat provides comfort, warmth, and activity to promote increased hand flexibility and brain stimulation. It can help and comfort those with diminished hand mobility, limited social interaction or anyone soothed by repetitive tactile motion.

Interested in learning more or purchasing this product? Follow the links below:

http://store.best-alzheimers-products.com/index.php/twiddle-pup.html#.U4YZP_ldWSo

http://store.best-alzheimers-products.com/index.php/twiddle-cat-cream.html#.U4YZOvldWSo

Leave a Comment

Practice Home Safety

Comments (2)

Namaste! Do Some Yoga

yoga for senior citizens

The benefits of yoga are well-documented by research. In fact, some researchers suggest that yoga may have the ability to improve sleep [4], decrease chronic inflammation [5], and even slow the aging process [2]. One study [1] found that over the course of an 8-week yoga and compassion meditation intervention, familial caregivers of persons with dementia had statistically significant decreases in reported stress, anxiety, and depression, in addition to lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol.

Still looking for a reason to try yoga? Recent research [3] suggests that regular participation in yoga may be rather beneficial for individuals with dementia. Some of the benefits cited include decreased behavioral issues, increased physical functioning, and improved muscle strength and agility.

So what is yoga? “Yoga is an ancient East Indian practice that utilizes mind, body, and spirit to balance our systems. Yoga combines flexibility, balance, strength, breathing, and meditation through a series of stationary poses that use isometric contraction and relaxation of different muscle groups to create specific body alignments” [3] Yoga’s definition is very broad and can be interpreted in different ways. For instance, someone with limited mobility can implement yogic exercises in the form of chair yoga. Yoga instructors and enthusiasts can often recommend adaptations to traditional yoga exercises, if certain movements are problematic.

Try out some of the yoga poses below at home. If you prefer to follow along with an instructor, consider renting a yoga DVD for free from your local library or find free YouTube videos online. Be very mindful of physical limitations, and if necessary, consult a physician to ensure that this type of exercise is appropriate for you and your person.

Lily Pads

chair yoga 2

My favorite….don’t forget to…

keep-calm-and-savasana-2

 

SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Rest in savasana when you need to take a break or at the end of your yoga routine. Let the tension from your body sink into the floor. Let all of the stresses from the day melt off of your body. Concentrate on the rhythm of your breathing as you deliberately and consciously take full breaths in and out. If your mind wanders, gently redirect your attention to your breath and the stillness of your body. Become aware of how good your body feels to rest and restore.

Namaste!

References

 1 Danucalov, M. D., Kozasa, E. H., Ribas, K. T., Galduróz, J. F., Garcia, M. C., Verreschi, I. N., Oliveira, K.C., Romani de Oliveira, L., &  Leite, J. R. (2013). A Yoga and Compassion Meditation Program Reduces Stress in Familial Caregivers of Alzheimer’s Disease Patients. Evidence-Based Complementary & Alternative Medicine (Ecam), 1-8. doi:10.1155/2013/513149

 2 Lavretsky, H. M. (2013). A pilot study of yogic meditation for family dementia caregivers with depressive symptoms: effects on mental health, cognition, and telomerase activity A pilot study of yogic meditation for family dementia caregivers with depressive symptoms: effects.. International Journal Of Geriatric Psychiatry, 28(1), 57-65.

 3 Litchke, L. G., & Hodges, J. S. (2014). The Meaning of “Now” Moments of Engagement in Yoga for Persons With Alzheimer’s Disease. Therapeutic Recreation Journal, 48(3), 229-246.

 4 Staples, J. K., Hamilton, M. F., & Uddo, M. (2013). A yoga program for the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder in veterans. Military Medicine,178(8), 854-860. doi:10.7205/MILMED-D-12-00536

 5 Yadav, R. K., Magan, D., Mehta, N., Sharma, R., & Mahapatra, S. C. (2012). Efficacy of a Short-Term Yoga-Based Lifestyle Intervention in Reducing Stress and Inflammation: Preliminary Results. Journal Of Alternative & Complementary Medicine, 18(7), 662-667. doi:10.1089/acm.2011.0265

Leave a Comment

Older Posts »