Dementia patients live in the moment. For those with dementia, there is no yesterday or tomorrow, there is only the moment at hand. Taking advantage of these moments can create joy and precious memories for everyone involved, even though it may be difficult for busy families to achieve. Parents and children rushing headlong into each day may not have the opportunity to stop and enjoy quiet moments with a loved one. That’s where geriatric care managers can step in to help.
Creating joy is important for those with dementia
The evidence is mounting that joyous moments benefit dementia patients for longer than previously believed. The BBC1 quotes the Alzheimer’s Society in the UK as saying that dementia patients retain “emotional memories” of joyful visits with family and friends long after they have forgotten who visited. The Alzheimer’s Society says “…family visits stimulated feelings of happiness, comfort, and security” in Alzheimer’s patients.
A study in the Journal of Clinical Nursing reported that when dementia patients were served traditional food from their childhood, it tended to create joy and increase their feelings of “belonging, being respected and cared for.”
These are just some of the reasons why stringing together joyous moments is beneficial for a loved one with dementia. If a busy life makes it difficult for you to create these moments, a geriatric care manager can be a vital asset. They are experienced in dementia care and understand how to communicate with those in various stages of dementia.
Here are some ways in which you and your geriatric care manager can create happy moments for your loved one that will improve their quality of life and create positive emotional memories.
Simple tasks, photos, and music for happiness
1. Do things that evoke positive memories: Photo albums are a good way to elicit happy memories. In the early stages of dementia, people may be able to recall the people and events in the photos. In the later stages of the disease these memories may be lost, but your loved one can still experience joy while viewing photos of happy people and beautiful places.
Serving favorite foods to the person with dementia can be a source of comfort and enjoyment. Taste can deteriorate because of the disease and dietary restrictions may make some foods off limits. However, a geriatric care manager will be able to work within these limitations and serve your loved one food that will make them happy and may remind them of their childhood.
Playing music that comes from their childhood creates great joy in those with dementia. Music rests deep in the brain and surpassed language. People in any stage of dementia will respond positively to music that was part of their life.
2. Help those with dementia feel good about their accomplishments: In the early stages of dementia, simple tasks help those suffering with the disease to feel productive and useful. It is a good thing to ask your loved one to help fold the laundry or sort papers. If a geriatric care manager spends time with your loved one during the day, he or she will create tasks like this. They are trained to provide activities that will stimulate your loved one mentally, emotionally and physically.
3. Create opportunities for reciprocation: Whether your loved one is in the early or middle stages of dementia it is important to involve him or her in daily life as much as possible. The disease may prevent your loved one from completing tasks that require organization, processing numbers or complex language, but that doesn’t mean it is impossible to feel productive. For example:
- Ask your loved one to help dry unbreakable dishes. When the task is finished, praise your loved one for helping.
- If there are several generations in the house, ask your loved one to sit with a child and hand them pens, pencils or crayons as they do their homework.
It doesn’t matter how simple the task is, it matters that your loved one can complete it and feel a sense of purpose. If you need help determining what these types of tasks may be, a geriatric care manager can help.
Helping a loved one with dementia feel joy is just as important as providing nutritious food and proper medications. You can rely on a geriatric care manager to help you and ensure that your loved one is stimulated with positive memories and happy activities throughout the day.
1: The BBC – Dementia loved ones ‘benefits from visits’