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My husband is 74 and has dementia. I had to put him in the nursing home because I wasn’t able to care for him at home anymore. He sleeps and smokes all day and is up and down at night going out to smoke at all hours. Today he said he’s board and that’s why he goes to bed. I’ve brought things up to the activity director and I’ve been told if I think of anything for the men to do I needed to let the director know. I don’t mind helping but I don’t know where to look for ideas. I’ve thought of word finds for my husband but he sees that as childish. He built major roads around KS City yrs ago and wasn’t into word games, sports or golfing. He likes skeet shooting and messing with guns. He used to play in a band back in the day and I’ve taken his guitar to the care home thinking maybe he’d work with that but nope he wasn’t interested. They play bingo down there twice a week but he sees that as ridiculous. I’ve taken some of his gun books down that he always said he wanted time to read but he hasn’t opened them, but I don’t think he could read a sentence or two and even remember what he read. I tried telling him that it’s exercise for the brain. I keep telling him he’s got to challenge his brain instead of sleeping all day and being up and down all night...


Can anyone give me suggestions of where I can look for ideas?


Thank You in advance...

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If your dad was interested in yard work, plants or a garden.. my Dads MC did mini greenhouse plants ( where you plant the seeds and watch them grow). They all seemed to enjoy watching them sprout, and they found a spot in the garden to plant them. I also got Dad books from the library that were mainly pictures.. about trains, planes.. the ocean. He really enjoyed them, and would share them with other guys and talk about what they used to do ( the military, fishing, travel) Not much, but an idea?
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Tracy1967 Feb 2019
He didn’t take any interest in gardening before dementia but he did say he’d help with one at the care home but he didn’t. They tried to take him fishing but he wouldn’t do that. They take trips to Walmart but he says he’ll go but he hasn’t yet. We have stuff to go thru at home that is his and he has no use for it but he goes to bed as soon as he gets here. When he wakes up he goes to smoke and wants to get back to the home. I don’t know if there’s anything he’d been interested in. He used to cook a lot and the home’s administrator said he could go in the kitchen and cook a meal for his family but he said no!
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A lot of activities are tailored for women since there are typically more women. Maybe you could get him to paint something that he is interested in. I would try legos or get him a model airplane that he could put together. If he use to build they make 3D puzzles or maybe just a puzzle that has buildings or duck or deer. Craft stores have bird houses that he could paint. Does he have access to a tv or radio? I am not sure how long he has been in the NH but it may get better if he is just transitioning.
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Tracy1967 Feb 2019
I’m going to Hobby Lobby and see if I can find something simple he could build. I wish I had thought of that myself. Thank You SO much!!
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I hate to be a downer here, but if they didn't do it before, they aren't going to learn once the short term is in the picture. That and the ability to reason are the first things to go. My Mom was an avid reader but couldn't keep her mind on what she was reading. I would watch her bookmark go almost to the end and the next day be near the beginning. No comprehension. And I agree with ur husband, some of the things are childish. He isn't there yet.
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I'm not sure if organized activities are set up in a nursing home the way they are in Assisted Living or Memory Care. If your husband is in a regular nursing home, he may not be able to participate with some of the regular activities if his cognitive ability impedes him.

Your profile says he has dementia. Often that prevents a person from really being capable of some activities. If they are able to participate they may need constant supervision to keep them on track. I noticed with my LO that even though she had a radio, she didn't have the ability to think of turning it on. If you put crayons and book in front of her, she might color for a short time, but, stop. She needed constant direction to stay on task. If not, she just sat or wheeled around in her wheelchair with no real focus.

I wanted things for her to do too, but, it wasn't that simple. I noticed that in MC, the activities are led by a staff member. They have reading time, stretching time, music time, etc. It's usually set up for short time periods, so the person doesn't get tired or distracted. If you can, you might observe your husband and see what he might be capable of doing. I'd look on the online sites for dementia patients. They offer various products that are designed for those with limited abilities like fidget boards. I would consider that even though a person with dementia may be able to read words, the words may no longer hold meaning to the reader. Therefore, the subjects they used to enjoy, no longer offer any appeal to them.
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If he used to be in a band, I would try something to do with music. Maybe singalongs or bring some of his old sheet music and have him sing with you, either in his room or in the living room. My Mom used to play the piano and still likes to sing old tunes. I’ve been told she sings at breakfast and other residents join in. When we sing together in the living no room other people sometimes join us. I have an app on my iPad called Piano With Songs that makes your iPad into a keyboard and is preloaded with lots of different genres and you just follow the red key to play them. Now that shes blind we still play it but I move her finger to play. It’s $4 a month, but the enjoyment she and I have gotten from it is priceless.

Another thought is is to bring stuff to the NH for him to sort out with you there. He’s probably got boxes of old paperwork and junk from when he was working. I know my DH has boxes of that old crap from when he was working, and I would toss it in a heartbeat, but yours might enjoy going through it with you and telling old stories about it.

And if he built roads, maybe he’d be interested in local maps or an atlas. Some guys love researching stuff on a map.
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Tracy1967 Feb 2019
Thank you for your response and all the good ideas
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Does he like to watch movies? Also, perhaps audio books; you have to be careful here in terms of the amount of memory needed to sustain interest. In other words a collection of short stories in hunting, fishing, adventure, detective genres. (Think The Old Man and the Sea by Hemingway; my father loved listening to that one.) Is there anything small that he would like to collect? Collections can be revisited and added to. Also, scrapbooks of his work projects, old newspaper articles and photos can allow him to remember and retell his experience on those projects.
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Ahhhh, The Old Man and the Sea is a great book! I should read it again. We actually have a public radio station that reads all the classics, fiction and nonfiction, plus the local newspaper, etc. I love listening to that station. It’s a station that caters to the blind but just as many sighted people listen to it. Does he have access to a radio or internet to stream public channels/stations? Can be a lot more interesting than regular television programs.
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Just my two cents for what it's worth, but I think music is the key with dementia patients. My mother rarely listened to music at home, but at the assisted living facility she loved to sing. The staff told me she has an amazing voice, I couldn't believe it, but it was true. I think with Alzheimer's they have a very short attention span for projects and the music can keep them engaged for longer. Your husband playing a bit for others and being encouraged may help too. Keep encouraging him and he will find something to engage with.
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At my mom's assisted living place there is a man who comes in once a week to read stories. Most of the residents like to listen because it's difficult for them to see or follow words in books. Also, it is social. When everyone else laughs around my mom she is encouraged to join in and pay attention. Listening to music works for most people. I have a friend who plays the music of the residents' youth at assisted living homes and they love it. They can't help tapping their feet to the music.
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I truly feel that music is therapeutic. Sure, it’s enjoyable but it’s much more than that too.

I can personally think of so many times in my life where music was so helpful.
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A facility I used to work at held weekly poker games. They were open to everyone, but the players did end up being all male. It was the only activity that a lot of the guys participated in and was very popular. They even had poker chips to use, but didn't redeem them for cash. Some of the player's had dementia, but remembered how to play poker as this was something they had done their whole lives, and thus it was a "long term" memory.
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gladimhere Feb 2019
That was my thought, poker, any kind of cards.

Bowling with one of those indoor sets, what about a table top pool set?
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Would your husband like video games or Wii? Perhaps you can find a used one for him or get some of the other residents' families to buy one for the care unit?
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My father likes making cookies in memory care because he likes to eat them! He also enjoys when the minister comes in and leads them in singing. If I am there, we will do things together (read or watch sports) for a short time (he isn't really paying attention to the game at this point) and I sometimes take him to other events going on in the building that I think he might enjoy. The activity director is particularly interested in things for memory care. A couple of us are trying to get an armchair exercise program going on. Dad doesn't have the ability to initiate activity at this point. None of the residents has a long attention span. It's a community that you need to get used to.
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Are you able to take him out for a short while? Has anyone done that with their loved ones? Don’t people get bored being in one place? Even if they aren’t doing well, they at least went to their doctor appointments before. The doctor/nurse is at the home so they go nowhere anymore.

Maybe he’s very bored and the only change of scenery is going outside to smoke. Even just a drive around the neighborhood if that’s possible. I don’t know your circumstances so forgive me if that isn’t feasible.
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lynina2 Feb 2019
I used to take dad out whenever possible. When he was able to, we would go to lunch. When he could no longer tolerate sitting at a restaurant table, I would slightly recline his seat and we would run errands together and go through the drive-through for a coffee, cocoa, or snack and find a pretty place to have a car picnic. He really enjoyed the change of pace and I enjoyed the one on one time with him. I miss him now he has passed but really love the memories that those excursions provided.
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My dad use to enjoy painting ceramics. Items such as small trays and little bowls. I signed his initials on them. They made great Christmas gifts.

Today, my dad enjoys music. With some of the slow songs, while standing in front of him, we hold hands & sway back and forth. I will hold his legs & move them like he is riding a bicycle. We do this everyday for excercises.
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I am brainstorming. Did he ever fish? What about a rod and reel with light casting weight. No hook. Maybe hit a target. What about corn hole game.

Just thinking out loud.
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When my mom was in the NH any activities usually only had women participating. Could they possibly air a baseball, basketball, horse race, or football game? Often sports channels repeat old games that were particularly exciting during the day or they could find DVDs of old World Series games, etc. They could set up the media room with decorations and snacks as though the residents were really at a game.
This could be done with showing movies too, and make it feel like a movie theater...
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My 94 year old dad likes poker on the computer...or a good old fashion game of poker with other guys. My 70 year old hubby likes John Wayne and war movies.
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Does he like card games, board games, perhaps he and the men can get together and play....
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Normally in Nursing Facilities, There are Plenty of Activities if anyone wants to Participate in them. Obviously, Your Hubby is Not into anything and No matter if they were Given to Him with His name on a Silver Platter, it still Would Not matter.
He has Dementia so at this Point, All you can do is Be there for Him with your own Hymn.
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It sounds like your husband’s only condition is dementia is that right. I see no other health issues that warrants care in a nursing home. I’m thinking he would be better off in a memory care place where activities are much more geared to those with dementia. If he’s able to ambulated then why would you put him in a much more expensive nursing home? It sounds to me like two things...he's bored and depressed and coupled with dementia he’s lost interest. Can you tell us if he has Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia and how far along he is?
The NH activities director sounds lazy to me. Some are good at the job and others aren’t. Why should you have to do her job? She should be researching and calling other NH and MC places to get ideas. Sheesh!!
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MC in my state is a locked ward with every resident in a wheelchair.

I think it depends on where you are what this is. Here it is for the worse of the worst. It would be cruel to put anyone with any cognition at all in MC here. More of a people warehouse.
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Have have I set up a Wii with the gun range that might be fun for him to do. Home Depot and Lowe's have some build it kits try hobby stores for some wood projects that he can build. Sundowners have difficulty making decisions what's fun activities but I agree he needs to be active and involved you might even want to try Styrofoam and golf tees and let him pound in with a rubber mallet. Gotta keep the other guys.

I hope this helps God bless
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When my Dad was recovering from a broken leg he LOVED Wii bowling. There were several get up and move a bit games that they had for the Wii at rehab.
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I would try VR in this day and age. A lot of elderly do it. It allows a broken body to still roam anywhere they want. My dad likes to use it to virtually travel the world.
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Nursing Homes are required to complete an activities assessment for each resident. Many dementia residents are unable to respond to the assessment but family member must be included. Ask the activity director to review that assessment with you. The purpose of this assessment is to identify what activities individual residents may be interested in or might enjoy participating in Since you've had no professional response from the activity staff you should make an appointment to speak with the nursing home administrator asap. The response from the activity staff person you spoke with is unacceptable and leads one to question just how care is planned and implemented at this facility.
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I reread your posts and it sounds like you have come up with lots of ideas. I am not sure even if you get these suggestions up and running he will want to do any of them either. He sounds like he could be depressed.....? My mom would say she was bored and we would suggest all types of stuff and she wouldn't want to do anything. I used to joke with my sister that complaining about being bored and not doing anything was her favorite activity.
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Hahaha, I know people who have adopted complaining as their hobby. Love how you worded that!
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Is the NH sufficiently staffed? I worked in a nursing home for a short time some years ago. Part of the job description was to engage patients in simple recreational activities as they were able. Staff was always so short-handed that there was scarcely time to do the most basic tasks, much less spend time with the patients.
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Does he like to build models or do puzzles? Those are things you could bring to him. At my mom's facility, they play balloon volleyball, do target practice with Nerf guns and bowling. All are good for hand/eye coordination. They also have performers who come in to play and sing and they often invite the residents to come up and perform with them. We are blessed to have a very creative and outgoing activities director at the facility. Don't overlook knitting or needlework either. Many men knit. My dad was a gruff long distance trucker but during a strike, he learned to do crewel work and made several beautiful pieces.
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My husband, Alzheimers and in a wheelchair, loves it at his MC when they play corn hole or noodle ball. Also, they have large soft balls and he would play catch with me all day long if I would do it. Maybe there is another guy he could play catch with (just tossing it back and forth).
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The facility my Papa was in had Beer & Movie night for the guys. They also had Poker night. They bought those miniature cars that you race, using a remote control. They set up an easy obstacle course for them to race around. They loved it! They had aides help those who were unable to do it on their own. The whole thing was No Women Allowed.
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Tracy1967 Feb 2019
That sounds like fun!! My husband never learned to play cards bc he’d rather work he said...
Thank You for your response
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Excuse me? The Activity Director asked YOU to suggest things for the men to do?

I'm not sure the Activity Director has fully read the Activity Director's job description.

Poker.
Motor sport related video games, ideally motion-controlled types so that they get some physical activity with it.
If there's space in the car park, invite local plant hire companies to come and give guided talks about their machines.
Scalextric is the car race game Becky's thinking of! - just glanced down and saw her post.

But meanwhile - get your husband's mental health checked out. Dementia and cognitive impairment do not stop you developing depression, quite the opposite, and it sounds as if that might be half the problem. Boredom and poor sleep patterns are classic signs as well as causes of it. It's a real chicken-and-egg problem, and there might be therapies and/or medications that could help.

PS Table tennis! With larger, soft, neon coloured balls to make it easier. In fact, look up sport and games for people with disabilities - for example, walking soccer has become incredibly popular with older men in recent years - anything that gets them moving and gives them something to concentrate on.
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Tracy1967 Feb 2019
It came up at his careplan meeting with the DON and social worker bc I asked about activities...the men didn’t have anything of interest on the activity calendar. The DON said “well our AD is out today but I’ll leave a note for him to call you. What kind of things are you thinking?” I said “idk that’s why I brought it up.” The AD called me a few days later and asked me if I could come up with some ideas for the men. I was shocked but asked him if he had other care homes he could get ideas from or I’m sure he had other avenues he could reach out to. He acted befuddled. I took it to the administrator the next day but haven’t seen any changes yet. I went in today with some of the ideas that have been posted plus I got him a bird house kit from a craft store that he’s excited to be making it for my dtr’s bday coming up soon.
Thank You for responding...
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One thing that I think is important is not to ask, "What do you want to do?" But instead lead him into some activity. These places are boring. And boredom breeds tired and lethargic behaviors. Make a daily schedule and keep to it.
1. A shave
2. A shower
3. Breakfast
4. A five minute walk
5. A gavem
6. Rest perios
7. Snack
8. A five minute walk
9. A treat if allowed ( icecream, cookie, etc.)
10. Checkers Challenge. (Keeping track of your and his wins and losses.)
11. A five minute walk
12. TV Time
13. Cribbage. Learn it with him. Great for memory

The key is to make a schedule that is posted, and then one that check marks can be added to. Routine and order help with memory.
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jacobsonbob Feb 2019
What's a gavem (or is this a typo)?
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Alexa Video... I got one for myself and my brother. When I can't get up there to see him we do video chats. Alexa also will play music, read books to you and a million other things. I would check into it. You do need to have Amazon and a cell phone. Also, Alexa never gets tired of you asking her the same questions.
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Wonderful!
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