Caring for dementia patients can be trying, difficult and full of frustration. However, it can also be a time of great joy and an opportunity to experience the purest form of love and affection. Dementia removes a person’s ability to comprehend the worry of world events or the weight of disappointments. It allows the patient only to experience the present moment and the person they are with. Infusing that moment with happiness can delight your loved one and create happy memories for you. As you travel the journey of a caregiver, here are some ways in which you can weave joy into the care of a dementia patient.
Music: Music has great power and can move dementia patients to joy. Even non-verbal dementia patients can sometimes begin to sing the lyrics to songs that were popular in their early adulthood. The parts of the brain that respond to music are very close to the parts that handle memory, emotion, and mood. Familiar songs are comforting and can bring back happy memories. It will bring happiness and joy to their day. When you spend time with your loved one play music from their early adult years and watch them smile and sing to the music.
Pictures: Open family photo albums or colorful picture books and review them with your loved one. He or she may not recall exactly who the people are, but it is a fun and light-hearted activity to see photos of smiling people doing fun things. Colorful picture books don’t require reading or a long attention span. They stimulate the mind and are beautiful to look at. The pictures can provide a point of conversation. If your loved one is non-verbal, beautiful photos give you something to talk about with them. Dementia may steal many capacities from patients, but it never takes away the ability to experience joy. Our LivHOME Connect has a feature where families can upload pictures to the tablet as a digital photo frame!
The beautiful outdoors: Going outside is always a great way to experience joy, given that the weather is right. If your loved one likes flowers, take him or her outside to see the latest blooms. If your loved one enjoys snowstorms, bundle him or her up in warm clothing and go out onto the porch to see the snow and listen to the special quiet that comes with a storm. If possible, take your loved one for a car ride and simply talk about the things you see on the way. The outdoors holds many beautiful colors and textures that can give your loved one joy. It is a simple way to be happy for an hour.
The simple things in life: Sometimes sitting together, holding hands is enough to give each other great joy. It is the human connection that we all desire. If your loved one has become non-verbal, simply chat about the events of the day; what type of coffee you ordered, what the children are doing, what happened at work. It doesn’t matter if your loved one can follow the conversation or not, it matters that you are sitting together, connected, sharing the moment.
Amidst all of the desperation that comes with watching a loved one fade away from dementia, the only joy that can be found comes from learning to experience each moment that is shared with them. Whether it’s music, laughter, dance when you spend time with your loved one, be fully with them and capture the moment in your memory. Experience joy as they do. It is a lesson in love and in living life, in each moment we are given.
Learn more about LivHOME’s specialty program for dementia care.
Most seniors want to continue living in their own homes for as long as possible. Oftentimes, however, they are limited in their ability to get out and about due to physical and/or emotional conditions. Additionally, adults are at a higher risk of experiencing depression and loneliness as they age. Companionship services can reduce the risk of social isolation and enable seniors to continue living in their own homes while staying engaged and connected to others and their community.