Posts Tagged activities for reminiscing

Alzheimer’s Chicken

Measure of the Heart

This activity idea comes from Measure of the Heart, a novel by Mary Ellen Geist, recounting her personal experience of returning home to Michigan to help care for her father who is diagnosed with dementia. Her father, Woody Geist, also appears in the HBO documentary “The Alzheimer’s Project”. The Geist’s resilience and candor in the face of this devastating disease is truly inspirational.

The following excerpt is taken directly from the book:

Alzheimer’s Chicken

  • whole chicken, about 4 pounds
  • 1 green apple, washed and cored
  • 3 stalks of celery, rinsed
  • 1 yellow or white onion, skin removed
  • several sprigs of fresh rosemary, sage, and thyme, rinsed
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 3 tbs olive oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Rinse a 4-pound roasting chicken, removing and discarding the giblets from the cavity.

Place the green apple, celery, onion, and herbs on a large chopping board. Hand a not-so-sharp knife to the Alzheimer’s patient, depending of course on how far the disease has progressed. It may not be wise to do this for Alzheimer’s patients who’ve been living with the disease for more than ten years, but my father can still safely use a knife if I stand next to him and make sure he isn’t holding it upside down.

Let the patient chop up the fruit, vegetables, and herbs however the hell he or she wants to, without hovering and explaining how to do it! Don’t say: “No! Do it like this!” Remember: It doesn’t matter what the chunks look like or how big or small they are. The process can be liberating not only for the patient but also for you.

Open the cavity of the chicken and have the Alzheimer’s patient help you stuff the bird with a big wooden spoon. Put the chicken in a 9×13 inch baking dish or pan. Pour the red wine, olive oil, and a little water over the stuffed bird. Cook it in the oven at 350 degrees F for at least two hours, until the temperature of the thigh reaches 180 degrees F. Have the Alzheimer’s patient help you baste the bird often. Let it sit a bit after you’ve taken it out of the oven; then slice and serve.

 

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Paint Rocks

lady-bug-rocks

Painting can be a relaxing activity that captures your person’s attention and keeps them focused. By keeping your person with dementia zeroed in on an activity, he/she is more likely to feel content, and behavioral concerns are less likely to appear. Recent research suggests that artistic activities may help individuals with dementia to express complex emotions, particularly when language ability fades. Art also provides intellectual stimulation for the person, which may help to keep cognitive powers sharp (although nothing can prevent dementia from progressing).

Furthermore, painting or (in this case) painting rocks is an activity that can be easily adjusted depending on the person’s remaining strengths and abilities. For instance, someone in the early stages of the disease may be able to execute a multi-step project over the course of a couple of sessions. The first session could consist of cleaning and sanding stones. The next session may involve painting a base color on a couple of rocks. The last session may include finer details (such as those seen in the ladybug picture).

Someone who is further progressed may do better with a shorter-term project with fewer steps, such as only painting rocks in solid colors or arranging (already painted) rocks in a decorative way. Even watching you paint or admiring your finished handiwork, might be pleasurable activities for someone in the later stages of the disease.

Materials you will need:

  • Smooth rocks (either found outdoors or purchased from a craft store)
  • Assorted acrylic paints
  • Paint brushes (various types)
  • Palette or mixing tray (e.g. paper plate, tin foil, styrofoam cup)

Helpful Hints:

  • As dementia progresses, the individual will need more supervision and guidance.
  • Consider using simple patterns for your design. Or you could add in more intricate details yourself, if desired.
  • Wear a painting smock or old set of clothing that is ok to get dirty.
  • Check out library books (such as those by Lin Wellford) for inspiration and step-by-step instruction.
  • Be alert to signs of frustration or boredom. Adjust the activity, so that it is a good match for the person based on their remaining strengths.
  • If the activity goes awry or causes the person to become agitated, be prepared to stop.
  • Your finished rocks can be used as decoration, such as on a countertop or in a garden. A functional use for painted rocks is to use them as garden markers for various plants/herbs (pictured above).

 

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Play with a Pet

t1larg_old_man_dog

You probably know that pet therapy is an emerging area of research and application in care of people with dementia. While therapy dogs have special training and certification, any well-behaved dog cat, or rabbit can potentially bring a little joy and a lot benefits to a person with memory loss. While companionship is an obvious benefit, pets may also help with agitation, depression, and anxiety. It’s not uncommon to watch someone transition from emotionless to animated or from agitated to calm when a pet enters the room, especially if it triggers pleasant memories. However, keep in mind that the opposite reaction is possible as well!

Of course, to some caregivers, the idea of adding another thing to care for, no matter how cute and cuddly, sounds pretty overwhelming, so don’t feel as if you have to adopt a pet to get the benefits. Even having a friend bring a well-behaved pet for a visit is a great option. Of course, it’s important to be mindful of the pet’s temperament and energy level. In general, too much jumping and/or excessive barking may do more harm than good. Also, be sure that the animal is a good “match” for the person with memory loss. A 90 pound woman who’s unsteady on her feet probably shouldn’t walk an excitable St. Bernard; someone with thin skin and on Coumadin might want to stay away from a cat with sharp claws; someone who throws things when angry should probably be supervised around a small yorkie…you get the idea. Of course, animals are unpredictable, as can be people with dementia, so supervision if probably wise, especially in the beginning while everyone is getting to know each other.

Other tips for success:
1. People in the later stages of the disease may respond better to animals that remind them of animals that remind them of former pets. But be warned: they might not like having to leave the “family dog” behind when they leave!
2. People love to feed animals, so be sure to have appropriate treats available for the person with dementia to feed the pet or you might find that they get a lot of people food!
3. Even those in the late stages of the disease can enjoy petting a soft dog, cat, rabbit, gerbil, etc. Even just hearing a cat purr across the room can be soothing, so don’t feel like the animal has to be right next to the person to have a positive effect.
4. Don’t forget to reminisce!

More information about pet therapy can be found at:
http://www.everydayhealth.com/alzheimers/how-animal-therapy-helps-dementia-patients.aspx

http://www.alzheimersproject.org/About-Us/News-Photos-and-Calendar/Latest-News/Pets-and-Dementia

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Keepsake Cookbook

Do you and your loved one love cooking? Maybe baking is what makes you feel at home. In either case, there is something to be said about the feeling you get when taking your first bite of a home cooked/baked treat.

Keepsake Cookbook_2.jpg

 

Creating a cookbook with your care partner can be a fun way to reminisce and leave a legacy for generations to come. It can be as simple as compiling old recipe cards or as intricate as creating a recipe book online complete with pictures. Keep in mind that this project doesn’t have to be finished overnight. It can simmer for days, weeks, or months to come!

Step 1: Choose your recipes

What are your family’s trademark recipes? Is there anything that has become a traditional birthday dinner, holiday dish, or rainy day snack?

Step 2: Choose your Methods

You might want to talk with your loved one and decide on a type of cookbook that will best combine your creative style with your skill set. You could write out individual recipes on index cards to insert in a scrapbook, create a larger more intricate scrapbook, or use online websites (e.g. Shurtterfly.com) to make one digitally. Feel free to exercise creative freedom, engage others in the process, and make changes based on skills and abilities.

Step 3: Write your book

Try making the dishes as you go! Talk about the smells, colors, and textures of different foods. Use this time to reminisce and identify fun memories associated with your recipes. Feel free to include these stories in your book! Additionally, if your loved one needs more assistance in the kitchen, be sure to break down each task into clear simple steps.

Step 4: Share your book with others

A cookbook made with you and your loved one is a beautiful representation of your family’s traditions, history, and relationships. You can use this book and its recipes to share your story with other family members and friends.

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Please join us for our Spring Conference in Troy!

5th annual Spring Conference

Please join us for our 5th Annual Spring Conference “Safe and Secure: Approaching Safety in Dementia Care” in collaboration with the Michigan Alzheimer’s Disease Center. We invite healthcare professionals, caregivers, family members, and individuals living in the early stages of memory loss to be our guests at this educational conference taking place on Tuesday, March 29th from 8:00am-3:45pm at the Somerset Inn in Troy. Breakfast and lunch will be provided. Five Continuing Education Credits will be awarded to professionals.

As Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia progress, one’s ability to make good decisions, exercise appropriate judgement, and maintain safety become impaired. Eventually, family and professional caregivers will assume responsibility for ensuring safety and promoting well-being. This conference will discuss various safety-related topics, such as managing medications, financial exploitation, and knowing when it is no longer safe to drive.

To learn more and to register, please visit http://www.alz.org/gmc. We hope to see you on March 29th! 🙂

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Enjoy A Cool Glass of Delicious Lemonade or Iced Tea

lemonade

It’s July. For most of us, this time of year is filled with sunshine, beaches, barbecues, and the like. In fact, what would summer be if it lacked the many traditions that have become so ingrained in our culture? However, many individuals with Alzheimer’s disease might be excluded from such activities. If it has become difficult to go on outings, for instance, or to leave the home for extended periods of time, our traditional ideas of ‘summer fun’ may be out of the question for our family member with dementia.

iced tea

Bring summer indoors by enjoying a cool, crisp, delicious glass of ice-cold lemonade or freshly brewed iced tea. These summer staples are not only refreshing and oh-so-good, but they may bring back memories and feelings from summers long ago. Sip on these cool beverages with your loved one while encouraging them to reminisce about the past. Or just chit-chat while you sit in your most comfortable chairs. Even individuals that are no longer verbal will likely enjoy this special treat and companionship. Another bonus: fluids are extremely important to physical health and cognitive function, and yet many elders do not get enough. Use this activity to encourage your loved one to stay hydrated through the hot summer months.

strawberry lemonade

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Below is a recipe taken from foodnetwork.com, which boasts the Perfect Homemade Lemonade. Try this or another recipe for you and your loved one to enjoy. If your person is able, they might like to help you by juicing the lemons. If sugar is a concern, consider using a sugar alternative or swap the lemonade for ice water with a wedge of lemon. Have fun, and stay cool! 🙂

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups sugar
  • 4 cups fresh lemon juice
  • 2 lemons, sliced
  • Ice for serving

Directions:

In a large saucepan, heat the sugar and 4 cups water until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is hot. Allow to cool, and then place into a large drink dispenser or jug. Add 2 gallons cold water, the lemon juice and lemon slices and stir to combine. Refrigerate and allow to chill completely.

 

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Alzheimer’s Chicken

Measure of the Heart

This activity idea comes from Measure of the Heart, a novel by Mary Ellen Geist, recounting her personal experience of returning home to Michigan to help care for her father who is diagnosed with dementia. Her father, Woody Geist, also appears in the HBO documentary “The Alzheimer’s Project”. The Geist’s resilience and candor in the face of this devastating disease is truly inspirational.

The following excerpt is taken directly from the book:

Alzheimer’s Chicken

  • whole chicken, about 4 pounds
  • 1 green apple, washed and cored
  • 3 stalks of celery, rinsed
  • 1 yellow or white onion, skin removed
  • several sprigs of fresh rosemary, sage, and thyme, rinsed
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 3 tbs olive oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Rinse a 4-pound roasting chicken, removing and discarding the giblets from the cavity.

Place the green apple, celery, onion, and herbs on a large chopping board. Hand a not-so-sharp knife to the Alzheimer’s patient, depending of course on how far the disease has progressed. It may not be wise to do this for Alzheimer’s patients who’ve been living with the disease for more than ten years, but my father can still safely use a knife if I stand next to him and make sure he isn’t holding it upside down.

Let the patient chop up the fruit, vegetables, and herbs however the hell he or she wants to, without hovering and explaining how to do it! Don’t say: “No! Do it like this!” Remember: It doesn’t matter what the chunks look like or how big or small they are. The process can be liberating not only for the patient but also for you.

Open the cavity of the chicken and have the Alzheimer’s patient help you stuff the bird with a big wooden spoon. Put the chicken in a 9×13 inch baking dish or pan. Pour the red wine, olive oil, and a little water over the stuffed bird. Cook it in the oven at 350 degrees F for at least two hours, until the temperature of the thigh reaches 180 degrees F. Have the Alzheimer’s patient help you baste the bird often. Let it sit a bit after you’ve taken it out of the oven; then slice and serve.

 

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