The Dementia Connection

Creating Joy & Meaning for the Dementia Patient by Ronda Parsons

How is Your Loved One Spending their Time?

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Now is the time for you to pause and rethink how you are spending your time with your loved one. Stop the perpetual problem solving and consider a new plan, a new way of spending time with your loved one. If you do, you will find that he days ahead will not only be calmer, but will also be filled with mutual happiness.

I want to encourage you to create activities that will stimulate and bring joy to your loved one. Don’t worry about making impressions that will last into the future. Instead maximize each moment that you are together by urging them to pursue interest and activities that they enjoyed in the past. If necessary modify the process to suit their current physical and cognitive abilities. Utilize every available moment to connect their minds and hearts to who they used to be.

How is your loved one currently spending their time? Whether they live in a facility or at home with you, closely examine their daily schedule and make an honest assessment. it is so easy to sit an inactive individual in a soft chair in front of the television set and fool yourself into believing that they are being mentally stimulated. In nursing homes, residents are often gathered in large groups to watch television. This is often how they spend the bulk of their day, either sitting quietly or napping out of sheer boredom. Sitting in one place for hours on end with no other stimulation than a television set, is not a life that any of us would choose. So let’s take this squandered and wasted time and use it to make a difference in our loved ones’ lives.

Even if your loved one lives in a care facility, it is important to remember that in the end it is an institution geared for the systematic care of large groups of people. Their primary concerns relate to the patients’ physical maintenance and their immediate medical concerns. Even in the best facilities, once this rudimentary care has been provided, there is often little time or resources to devote to the emotional well-being and happiness of each patient. Patients with memory impairment are often overlooked. Most facilities make a valiant effort to plan activities that will add substance and value into the lives of their residents, but nine times out of ten, the events planned are aimed toward residents with the highest cognitive skills and abilities. And to be honest, this makes perfect sense. it is easier to plan activities direct to their high-functioning residents. Bingo, board games, current news-of-the-day highlights, and jigsaw puzzles provide a modicum of stimulation for the greatest number of residents. Unfortunately, unless they are offered individual help, these activities are exclusionary and cannot be enjoyed by residents suffering from moderate or acute dementia.

Even in the earliest stages of the disease, sufferers typically lack the focus and concentration to sequentially follow the rules of a game without assistance. Other than the occasional music program, dementia patients are usually relegated to the sidelines, unable to participate in the majority of a facility’s activities.

Therefore, I believe that it is our responsibility, as caregivers, to pick up where the facility has left off. it is our job to create and adapt activities specifically tailored to our loved one’s interests and current proficiencies.

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Author: Ronda Parsons

My book 'Creating Joy & Meaning for the Dementia Patient' is being released in May, 1015.

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