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Thanks Jaye for appreciating my ideas! It took five years for me to gather this information, through reading and the internet, and if I can help shorten the learning curve for those still on this journey, I am truly blessed.

Kelly: if your father worked in the restaurant business why not have him watch the FOOD CHANNEL and make a list of his favorite recipes, then gather up his favorite recipes and help him make them into a BOOK he can publish!! He may find a new purpose and you will have an amazing memento for the whole family! Also, have him 'inventory your pantry' and make a list of everything in there! When it comes to food, you can also get some catalogs for 'kitchen utensils' and have him tear out pages of utensils he used in his restaurant. p.s. If it isn't Alzheimer's, there has to be some deficiency if his memory is affected. Please make sure that he is checked out by a geriatric doctor. (It took years to get Mom properly diagnosed)

Some of my most prized possession are the last few crochet attempts my mother did, and pieces of yarn and fabric that she was meticulously folding. Her needlewoork attempts were very 'creative' but they are now priceless to me!!

As we can see, the activities that keep them HAPPY are ones that pertain to something in their life. Something related to a hobby or profession seems to work quite nicely. Senior centers are great but be sure that the 'bus' they get on is ONLY for the center, so they don't end up lost. Be sure that the 'center' calls you to let you know that Mom/Dad got there safely, and when they leave have them call too! One can't be too careful!
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I FIND IT HELPFULT TO SEND MOM TO ADULT DAYCARE. IF YOU HAVE ONE IN YOUR AREA. MOST OF THE TIME THE LOCAL BUS WILL PICK HER UP. IT WILL GIVE YOU TIME FOR YOURSELF. AND MOM WILL ENJOY ALSO.
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oh and forgot u mentioned the restaurant! try working him in the kitchen, give hin small, responsibilities, where he wont get hurt, and ask his input!!!
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try old pictures, scrapbooks, u say he has a great long term memory, find some mags, that he might associate with his past work, let him look through those, talk to him, about his old jobs and what he remembers, I dont know if hes a talker or not, if not, maybe movies, thats if he will sit down and watch, I know when my grandfather was home all he did was walk around in circles, and check on one picture frame that he hid 20 dollars in! they get pretty ritualistic! really you have to sit down, and maybe write a list of things he might enjoy! It certainly would be worth it not to see him wandering around aimlessly and probably depressed too, that must be so hard , I know because it was for me and my grandpa, he was a wonderful man, but very conservative and too himself! Sometimes it takes a little prodding to hit the jackpot so to speak to make him a little more happy and not feeling confined.............My grandpa fought it all the way to our house, from the Bronx, it was like almost handcuffing him to leave his home and surroundings, he just didnt understand either that he could wander off and never be found..............unfortunately back in those days, My family was so big, with kids running all around, my dad and step mom trying to take care of them, etc,,,,,,,,,,,,,nobody really had the time to concentrate on his comfortability, had I realized more, I was only like 8 or 9 then I would have tried to help, but he didnt look miserable, walking around in circles all day, and going to the picture frame, he was very quiet in the end, could hardly get a word or two out of him, but another thing I just remembered, that he had this thing about napkin collecting, he would take napkins and pile them up, til we had a whole den full.........at restaurants he would grab all the napkins on the table, even before we had a chance to use them, then ask for more, we practically had to hide our napkins!!! sounds funny and looking back it was!!! and every napkin had to be folded a certain way............I dont know why grandpa chose napkins, but who knows I would probably chose earrings , or purses, or something like that, or maybe he just thought in his head there would be a severe shortage one day.............GOd Bless you, and take care, dont put too much weight on yourself, I know its hard, but grandpa is safe, and eventually hopefully he will just forget, or resign himself to the fact that he is meant to be there and not alone! hope this at least made u smile....
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I have the same problem with my father-in-law. He will be 91 soon. He has a fantastic memory of long term, but it is like the movie "50 First Dates" most of the time. He doesn't have alzheimers. He never did anything fun, but worked always. He owns a restaurant (not in my city) and doesn't understand that he cannot stay by himself. He also wants to just GO HOME! Any ideas for keeping him busy durung the day?
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Excellant ideas MiaMadre.... take care J
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You guys always raise to the solution with your ideas some of you might have been teachers also makeing a wreath using a wire hanger for different seasons of the year like pastel for spring might be good- a lovely lady who was in the same nursing home as my husbands during most of his rehabs taught me how to do it it is good for holidays and seasons and might be something an elderly person would like to do to give away.
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Yes give her something that wont remind her of the past, stay away from anything that she might be whining about today, and concentrate on keeping her mind as stable and busy as possible, u know what mom is capable of! think about her old hobbies, what did she enjoy helping with!!! I was thinking maybe old magazines too, exept maybe u do the cutting out, lots of cute pics!!!! then some elmers glue, to stick them on a blank piece of copy paper, she can make all kinds of stuff, even if its that stick glue in the tube!!! anything that wont be too difficult, fun and interesting for her! maybe she likes nature? old national geographics!!! animals, water falls, etc.......................everyone likes or enjoys stuff like this, even me!!! use that lil activity to keep her mind on one track, while certainly giving her options to pick and choose what is! dont let the grump take over her and your tudes, if u have to, make her start her day over! say goodmorning mom, we are starting our day over now!!! lets find something special and fun to do!! even a few little white lies are ok, to keep her happy, sane, safe and comfortable!!!! Please let me know how this stuff goes!!! She will feel productive after a while and wont have to sit around miserable watching her tv, and feeling like shes not needed!!! little sewing jobs will , I have to take my own advice as well! which i am finally able to do this....so now I can practice what I preech, as they say................still have lots to learn thou!!!, and this is truly amazing! the support here is awesome and always gets me to see stuff in a different lite!
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I will add these notes to ALL the amazing ideas we come up with. To get my mother interested in something fun to do, I just started to do the activity myself. If it was something that I knew that Mom used to be proficient at, I would ask for her HELP! "Mom, I'm stumped, can you help me here?" She would be MORE willing to get involved if she thought she was being helpful. And when she was being honery (yes, my dear sweet mother) I would just leave the 'project' on the table. This always seemed to spark interest on her part, if for no other reason than to put it away.

OH... another thought. Please don't correct them, or critic the end results, unless it is positive reinforcement. Early into Mom's diagnosis I would try to 'help' her do it right, when in fact the only interest should be in having them DO the project. I was always careful to only have SAFE tools for Mom to use, and even crocheting had to be watched carefully, so the hook wouldn't be used as an 'ear cleaner'! (Yikes)

And don't offer too many things at once, I used baskets and bins to keep 'tasks' in, and I would cycle through projects to see what was her interest of the day. Even a simple puzzle can do double duty, if you flip it over and NUMBER the pieces. Mom was a math genius, and she was able to put the 'numbers' together easier than pictures sometimes.

I also used these same ideas for projects at the nursing home when Mom was there. I would bring my bins with me, just start something, and some cookies and a pot of tea later, the other butterflies (ladies) would gravitate over to our table to see what we were doing. I never felt more useful! And Mom got used to the other ladies there, and they to her!

Also... a comfy apron for Mom (or Dad) to wear will keep them from hiding things from a craft project. Mom would squirrel away parts of puzzles, and wood beads, etc in her room, but once we used the apron, she would put all the 'pieces' in her apron, which we monogramed with HER name, and left near the craft area.

Never try to force them to do anything. ASK for their help, tell them you need help getting this done, or offer some 'monetary incentive' to get this done. "The school will pay us $X.XX to get these wood pieces painted." Or the "Church is having a bake sale, and needs........ "

Use positive reinforcement, and if they lose interest, or are not interested at all... don't let it get to you. I can remember telling my mother when I was young, that "I don't have a THING to do..... there's NOTHING to do around here.... I'm bored" So I was understanding of her lack of interest. UNTIL I found something she really wanted to do, then she would stay busy for hours, sorting through buttons, or looking at pattern books, or sorting 'sewing notions'.

Seeing my mother involved in anything made my day much easier, and I hope these suggestions will help someone else too!
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I"ve heard of giving them the job of rolling coins is effective. The elderly person seems to like it and it accomplishes a purpose. Another idea is a needlework project. just thought of this one too: You could give her a paint by numbers kit. I used to love to do those and can see myself enjoying doing those paintings again when I am older.
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awesome cindy and Ed gosh u guys really had great imput!!!! I wish I had so many good ideas!!! well, guess what? now I do!!! thanks!!
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ED, thanks for making me smile. Sorting clothes is a simple activity where we can ask for help from our parents. Cleaning out a single drawer where there are no sharp objects and where it doesn't matter what the outcome may be after it is cleaned out, or sorted, or just becomes an entertaining activity for several hours. Looking through old greeting cards received and things that evoke long-ago memories can also be a pleasant passtime. Magazines with lots of pictures, like garden magazines, etc., might also be entertaining. Whatever you decide to on, hope it will keep your Mom happily entertained. I'm with Ed. Sometimes things are not so deep. They just are.
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Her wandering is troublesome-does she go outside she may need a tracking device-and I agree a little white lie is ok if it gives her pleasure-did she ever knit or crochet it might come back to her.
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You say she is "living in the past". A clue to what might soothe and comfort her is engaging in activities that were important or familiar to her during the time she is "living in" now! I also find that for ladies, the kitchen holds a multitude of options! Play the spice game (guessing the spice, discussing the recipes she used the spices in or foods that include the spice), polish the silverware (even if it isn't silver), buy various kinds of beans/shapes of pasta for sorting, etc.
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Hapfra and LME Such GREAT ideas. I know so many of us have become very creative and even after our loved ones pass (my deepest sympathies) we still want to help make this rocky road a bit easier to travel.

I will be looking for Zoom's response and update on how Mom is doing with her!! ZOOM?
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My mom enjoyed reading, I know a lot of Alzheimer's patients don't. But she enjoyed reading a large print version of the Bible, anything religious, Guidepost, Reader's Digest, anything. Also, in the beginning, she was able to work on Find-a-Word puzzles, or Grade 1-4 math workbooks found in Teacher's Stores or Meijer's, etc (until she started trying to multiply the addition problems). She also enjoyed dressing Colorform dolls, like the old paper dolls, but now available in Colorforms or magnet. When she became worse, she had "toys", such as wooden bead toys, even a puzzle of her name (she couldn't handle a large puzzle), a necklace she could bend or the Energizer Bunny with bendable arms and legs. I had her write down her Christmas list and to write about me (it's now in my scrapbook). I saw one patient use coloring books. Of course, she had her doll and Teddy bears. My brother hated it when she would tell her doll to pay attention to what he was saying. But her doll helped her to communicate. She would not tell anyone if she was in pain, so, I would ask her to show me where her baby was "unhappy". When she had sinus, she would point to the doll's nose, or when they had to install a feeding tube, she pointed to the doll's stomach. It was hard to watch her play with toys and her doll, but that's the nature of the disease. Two months before she died, although she barely spoke, I had a cold and need to leave early, she told me to take her doll and put her in my bed with me. I'll never forget that sweet statement.
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yes I know, but I kinda wanted to know what type of stuff she enjoy doing like embroidery, painting, music, writing, reading etc..................hobbies or something she likes to do, maybe knitting or patchwork, even reading to her???? anything she enjoys doing!
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Get an ID bracelet with her name, your phone number, and "memory impaired" engraved on it. You can also purchase these through MedicAlert.

Give your mom a card with your phone number on it, so she can call you if she is lost.
Alert the local police and give them a photo of her, or contact any local store she would likely go to if she found a way out of your home.
Install alarms that will set off if she's leaving the house, or use childproof devices to prevent her from opening an outside door.
While you are with her, constantly reassure her where she is and that everything is fine.
Find ways to get her to exercise or take her for walks. There are even exercises she can do while sitting in a chair.
Give your mom simple tasks to do during the day. If she loves folding clothes, bring out the towels every day to give her something to do.
Reduce water intake several hours before bedtime, so she won't need to get up to urinate in the middle of the night risking a fall or inducing wandering.
Get her involved in adult day care to keep her active during the day and more likely to sleep at night and reduce the need to wander.
Don't lock Mom in a room or tie her in bed thinking that you're trying to keep her from hurting herself--she will, anyway. Besides, restraining her in this fashion is psychologically abusive.
Observe what she does before she begins to wander, and see if you can identify a pattern. Look for the cause and make the changes accordingly.
Good luck with this process-and hope these suggestions are of help.
Hap
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Susan..........ways to keep your mom or dad's minds/hands occupied during the day
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need more info
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Thanks it works for me, and if possible ask her to put them away.
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good point in JanInTexas... Also music can be very helpful and calming to folks with alzheimer's disease...
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pattern puzzles are lots of fun too... I got some very good things from what is called Fat Brain Toys.com Also Melissa and Doug.com have puzzles that are NOT childish, animals flowers, birds. take care, J
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something simple like folding clothes works for my mom, they may not be the neatest folded clothes, but it doesn't matter.
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Peacefrog: with regards to the 'picking of her skin' here is what worked for my mother. I got OPERA gloves, the long white gloves ladies used to wear and had Mom 'try them on' That and a big floppy hat and she was playing 'dress up' and feeling OH so CHIC!! Something that was meant to distract my Mom actually helped her be more playful and have FUN!

Do a google search for OPERA GLOVES
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My mother has dementia and is barely capable of doing anything. She was an avid reader and can't read now or follow the TV. I tried very easy 100 piece jigsaw puzzles. This has helped so much. It keeps her mind and hands busy. She has a horrible habit of picking at her skin, anywhere and everywhere, bleeding all over everything which is truly very annoying to watch and prevent. When she is working the puzzle, she picks less. Sorting objects seems to interest her and I am working on that as an option but haven't found the right items for her to sort yet. She can't read her books but she brings them into her bed every night and sorts them. Also these are familiar things to her so I think it keeps her comfortable. It is disturbing that she can barely complete a puzzle geared for a 5 year old, but I had to get past that and focus on the positive aspects of what it does for her, mentally and physically. Just keep it easy or it won't work.
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does your Mom like word search puzzles? could she help fold laundry? We all need a purpose. maybe she could look at the grocery ads in the newspaper and make a grocery list or maybe she could cut the coupons out of the Sunday paper. There out little coupon cutters at Walmart if you are concerned about scissors. Let her help you make greeting cards for folks... taking pictures out of magazines. Another think she might enjoy is Birds and Bloom magazine. Beautiful, colorful pictures of birds and flowers... just a few ideas... take care, J piri
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ZOOM:

Many years ago I had to come up with all kinds of activities to keep my sanity intact and my kindergarten students from acting up. Their attention span was about 5 minutes, so I had activities such as story time, collages, coloring, Legos, and some 50-piece puzzles that helped them "build community" by developing their social skills.

Since your Mom "wants to go home," how about 500- or 1,000-piece puzzles with cottages/houses on them? She just might become a willing prisoner and stay in her room for hours at a time.

... And yes my dear, you are restricting her movements to keep her safe. But she doesn't see it that way. If she can't escape, she'll throw tantrums and make your life a living hell. You might attribute her behavior to dementia, but I don't think it's that deep. ... For now.

Hasta luego, y buena suerte.

-- ED

-- ED
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ZoomToo: I know how much of a challenge you are facing.
I would be happy to shorten anyone's learning curve when it comes to Alzheimer's. It would be so much easier if there was a CHAT FUNCTION on this website, so those of us that have the experience could share it REAL TIME. Your post is three days old, and I am just now seeing it.

BUT.... hopefully the suggestions I make below will get you started.


Now about keeping her busy. What did she like to do in her 'past? Find something SAFE that she can keep busy with, even counting and wrapping Coins helped here. Mom was VERY frugal, and would save pennies for a rainy day. Also... laundry...folding towels, helping with dinner, recipe searches in books, watching the cooking channel for ideas for dinner. Writing letters to ANYONE .... reading old magazine, and searching for recipes in them. Shopping lists, cleaning out a closet, folding old clothes for charity.

I have hundreds of ideas, and there are books devoted to this very subject too.

The first thing to do is to talk to her doctor. If she doesn't have one, get a geriatric one that is familiar with Alzheimer's. Have her tested for a UTI (urinary tract infection). One of the most common reasons for 'odd behavior' is a UTI. If she has a UTI have a culture done. There are ways to keep UTI's at bay without the use of antibiotics, D-Mannose for one, Proper hygiene will help and proper 'emptying of the bladder too,

Althought MEDS are used all the time for beligerent behavior, or 'the 'wanting to go home' it is better to try to help her naturally first.

After all, if we were removed from our homes, sent to live with someone else (perhaps someone that we don't really recognize anymore) we would be confused, lost and "want to go home too"! Alzheimer's makes it really a lot worse.

I don't know the circumstances that prompted your Mom to come and live with you, but I remember all too well that when my mother, with whom I always had a close relationship came to live with me, the relationship was MUCH different. I was the big bad wolf, and she was the lost little lamb. It was VERY difficult for me to accept until I learned more about Alzheimer's and stop taking ANYTHING personally.

There are several books that I can recommend that really helped me, and of course the resources on this site and the www.alz.org website have volumes of articles that are helpful.

Book: Learning to Speak Alzheimer's: A Groundbreaking Approach for Everyone Dealing with the Disease by Joanne Koenig Coste and Robert Butler

Book: The 36-Hour Day: A Family Guide to Caring for People with Alzheimer Disease, Other Dementias, and Memory Loss in Later Life, 4th Edition by Nancy L. Mace and Peter V. Rabins (

BOOK: A Caregiver's Guide to Alzheimer's Disease: 300 Tips for Making Life Easier by Patricia R. Callone

BOOK: The complete Guide to Alzheimer's proofing your Home. Mark L. Warner

With regards to her wanting to go home.. AGREE with her... tell her a therapeutic lie that may appease her for a while. Let her know that we can 'go back home' after they fix the street, or remove the tree from the road, or when the weather clears, or TOMORROW... or that when we get the 'letter from her ......" or "when..... well you get the message.
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Perhaps she would.
How would I go about getting her involved in this?
Thanks for replying.
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