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Any type of activities that you are currently doing, are activities you should at least try to continue. Adapting to those activities with PD can be hard but we have come up with some things that may help others. |
Socializing can be a big factor in the reason that most PDer’s won’t continue on in what they enjoy. The stares and comments from some cause the PDer to want to be homebound, not having to deal with the outer world. It took us a little while but we overcame this. While some might not be comfortable with this, it worked for us.
In most social situations there has to be laughter, the best of medicines. To make others feel comfortable with his tremors, drooling “Ruth Buzzi”(from laugh-in) stockings, odd walking(as he doesn’t really shuffle) and all the other outward awkwardness, my guy has brought laughter into it and tells jokes about them OR uses one liners…it makes others feel at ease and now in social situations he feels probably more comfortable than others around him. He hasn’t hit the plate yet at dinner out…but has come very close. When it comes to the choking, swallowing and gagging, he will get up and leave that area and find a place, away from the crowd.
Card games, board games and jigsaws.. not PD friendly activities BUT…doing these games with ones who are most familiar with you, can be engaging and mentally stimulating. Just putting out a jigsaw puzzle gets everyone, even strangers involved in putting it together. Now you don’t need to go out and buy 1000 piece masterpieces at $10 a pop. Most flea markets and thrift store have used ones for about a buck, a piece may be missing but so what. 100 or 200 are plenty to just leave out on a table and let them do it when they want. Card games and board games can both be done on the computer these days…most are nothing but a click of the mouse. If you have an iPad it is even easier according to my guy, he says that the iPad, with its touch screen, makes it easier on him.
Gardening, planting any outdoor “work” such as this gets the PDer out of the house. Even in a wheelchair, they can help plan and plant. Getting some type of garden wagon that you can tote things around easily helps here. Using clay pots or plastic(even better) to plant flowers or veggies can be done right on a porch or right in the middle of the yard where a few spilled dirt piles would mean nothing.
Reading…not too many folks I know really read anymore. The trouble understanding words is an issue with dementia as well as the act of reading, however if you can find magazines that are of some interest to them it helps. Again you can find used magazines and books at thrift places and used book stores, not a great investment.
Pets.. I’m sure we have all had them at one time or another and I guess the last thing a caregiver needs is another to tend too, but, it helps the psyche to have a companion such as these. A service dog, while not a “pet”, still can work wonders. Just ask Al….
Cooking… now this doesn’t mean to leave the person with severe dementia have a go at cooking a 7 course meal, but it does mean to let them make a sandwich, pb&j if nothing else. My guy was a chef, cooking meant the world to him, however following recipes doesn’t work now. What does work is the two of us working a meal together. He still has the knowledge of the flavor, the spices and the tastes, while he can’t actually taste much, he knows from his reserve what goes well with what...He knows the how tos of sharpening knives and can pass that knowledge on to me.
Artistic pursuits… how about a paint by numbers? Nope won’t work with a PDer, sculpting…yes it can work… many seniors centers have pottery classes and while things may not be perfectly round and shaped like a professional, the act and the pleasure received from creating, even a candy dish, is rewarding. Music…learning a new instrument is not easy, but pursuing musicians and listening to it, still helps the creative mind move forward. I will add this to the painting though. My guy refurbishes radio flyer wagons and makes some pretty strange ones too. He does little detail work on them and with the help of some tape usually gets pretty straight lines….
Internet searching… Welcome to Google University…now I know some of you have had issues with porn sites and buying compulsions, but searching the internet for fact related questions, is awesome in keeping the mind alert. Even something related to say, fishing, hunting, golfing, crocheting, knitting, gardening, home improvement and I could go on, helps keep the mind active and alert especially if they take an interest in the subject to search.
Volunteering… yes indeed, just reaching out to those who are in similar circumstances can be a boost to the ego as well as the mind. Get involved in a PD foundation or support group, if that’s your cause. Being a step-grandparent can be a great reward. I’ve mentioned reading to children, If the person is still able to read, but does not have that strong voice left, here is an aid. Teachers use this when speaking outdoors or ina classroom of rowdy first graders, it’s called Califone voice saver, a portable mic so to speak. It weighs about 2lbs, attaches to the waist, no bigger than a cell phone and has a headpiece “microphone” it runs by batteries and projects the voice and you can adjust the volume. It costs about $90, but a great investment even for just home use and getting together with the family. I’ll put a link at the bottom for those interested.
Theaters, museums, concerts and lectures…for Pder’s this is a tough go. Not many can sit still in a theater for 2 hours to watch a movie. However, making movie night at home can work. Lectures, unless done over the internet, with flexible listening, doesn’t go over to well with PD. Museums and concerts are two on our list. You can take in a museum at your speed and there are usually plenty of seats around to take breaks. Outside concerts are the best as you can either bring your own comfy chair or at least get up and move around when necessary. Now we don’t drink alcohol, but we frequent a bar and grill near us as they have live bands. We drink our sweet tea and enjoy the music and each others company. He can still get up and move around when the cramps start or if it gets too bad we just leave.
Home improvement…Anything, even as simple as changing a face plate on a light switch, puts gets the mind moving. Of course with PD, it may take 2. One to hold the hold the screwdriver and the other to the hand still of the person holding the screwdriver…I know I am making fun, but, I think you get the picture. I know several folks in this disease at least 10 years who still take on home improvement projects like decks and landscaping…You just do it while you have your good time. It may take a while to finish a project but still go out and do it if you feel like you can…..
Writing…Such a great mind stimulator. Writing does not always have to be the written word. Sounds wrong, I know, but, there are so many digital devices out there that are on phones, computers and handhelds. Let the person “voice” their memoirs, write a letter to the grandchildren, son or daughter. Let them put the words digitally and then you or someone else can type them out…at least their voice will be heard. This activity helps keep the mind on the here and now as well as the past. Recalling stories that may have been lost or even telling new ones that never happened. It keeps the mind busy and can sometimes bring out a new creativity in a person.
Turn off the TV…I might get some feedback from this one, but, I have been a long believer of sitting someone in front of the TV to be “amused” is not a part of life. It vegges them out and then they have no point with reality and the mind is just there, it is not functioning. Now don’t get me wrong here, if the person with dementia is that far gone, and putting on the TV for noise or at least something for them to watch a movie, ok… but a person whose mind is still there, who can converse and is not staring out into space. This is so wrong. Watching a few movies or programs that they enjoy ok, but watching the TV from sunrise to bedtime is not the best. Studies have proved this. Channels like CNN, HLN, FOX news, the Weather Channel, are good for so long, until they get into the repeating stages. Then they are nothing but repetitive mumbles to the brain.
Here is the link to the Califone Voice Saver :