Memory Impairment and Participation

           What do our loved ones with memory impairments like to do? The answer is going to be different for everyone because, chances are, they want to do what they’ve always liked! Although diseases like dementia can affect our loved ones in such a way that they may not be as involved or interested in doing activities they may have loved to do before, they are still people who enjoy hobbies like everyone else. Having something to do can also help with anxiety and depression that people with memory impairments may have. Whether you’re a caregiver at home or visiting your family member here at Sensations, here are some tips to do activities with them.

           Let’s try to put ourselves in their shoes. Normal situations for us can be loud and confusing for those with memory impairments. A good analogy for this would be a feeling of television static in the brain. Think of what that would be like in an everyday environment. It can get overwhelming fairly quick. Try to eliminate background noises and stimuli for better focus. Once you can get a person focused, they will have an easier time doing the activity they’d like to do.

Don’t be afraid to help them with it. This is a good way to build and maintain a relationship with the person as well as make them feel accomplished once the activity is over. Work together – if they’re doing a puzzle, only add in a couple pieces at a time. If they’re painting, suggest a color or two – but ultimately, let them take the reins. Your loved one will appreciate the time together but also appreciate finishing the project with a bit of independence.

            Sometimes, people get frustrated with themselves. It may help to devise a step-by-step list for them to do their hobby with ease. If they make a mistake, let them know it’s okay. If they become angry or upset, try to redirect them. Put the activity to the side and bring their attention to something else and go back to the activity at a later time. Always do your best to stay positive.

            Having our loved ones continue to do activities they participated in before they were diagnosed with memory impairments is important in keeping a good quality of life. Doing these things on a regular schedule will also help establish a familiar routine, which in turn creates an environment where the loved one feels safe and secure.