Possible hobbies, activities or ways to feel useful for Dad with low vision and dementia?

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My dad is 83 with poor vision and dementia that makes it hard for him to follow the normal rate of speech. I have been meaning to ask this for a long time, and then we had a particularly bad night tonight, so I thought I better get my butt on here. He kept saying over and over that he doesn't want to live like this. He says he gets up and just sits around all day and then goes to bed, and to be honest, for the most part. it is true. I feel like I am sortof failing in that department as a caregiver. The only thing he really does around the house is pull weeds since he can do that by feel, but he says he feels totally useless. He used to enjoy TV and reading but can't follow the speech or stories any more. He still tries to do large print Sudoku but gets frustrated because he can never finish them. He is totally opposed to going on meds that would help his mood. Tonight I told him there are places he could go during the day for activities, and he said he didn't want to be around a bunch of other old people. :( I do put on old music sometimes but would like some other suggestions. Not to mention, the music is a bit of a crap shoot as sometimes he likes it and other time he ends up crying because it makes him think of my mom, who passed away 5 years ago.

What kinds of activities do they do in elder day care places? Ideas that would make him feel like he is useful would be particularly helpful.

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I was actually going to come back and say I got the best idea yet from another group to work on his life story lol. I really need to get a printer here. Because he will just forget what he told me, I think having tangible evidence of the stories would make a big difference, like he is producing something. I have already recorded him telling tons of stories, but he wasn't even aware of it.

The change thing could totally be brilliant... or not lol. I am going to start a change jar though and see. I only say "not" because he often brings me coins and asks me what they are. :/ but i wonder if he had a bunch if he would be able to do it somewhat by feel....

I am really not sure if he could read on an ipad! He is SOOOO anti computer. When engineers first started working on them, he thought it was a travesty. They tried to give him one and he told them to stick it up their a** lol. My dad was an artist who could freehand draw the parts he designed! And luckily one of the best in his company, so they just laughed and let him keep on doing what he was doing. There is the first story for the book eh?
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I got my grandmother to write a book with stories she remembers from her childhood. You could get him a recorder and he could do it that way. It would also be a good thing to have later on for your kids or other family members.

Also, my grandfather used to enjoy sorting and rolling change.
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neomia, my mother is blind in one eye and has macular degeneration in the other. For the past 2 years, she has been able to read using an iPad. Now it is impossible, but it was a life saver for 2 years. She still tries to read the paper on the ipad and sometimes can. The print on the books on ipad can be made quite large. I guess it depends on just how low your dad's vision is. I set the ipad up for my mom and then all she does is reads. There are also headphones for it, but she hasn't been able to make that transition because she forgets what she hears or just falls asleep. Anyway, it was a big help for us for quite a while. You would have to have internet access. Good luck. It is so frustrating. My mom also watches baseball "Milwaukee Brewers". She can't see much, but can hear the games so watches anyway. She knows all the players. There is a game on almost every day (or evening) until the end of October so she looks forward to that. Maybe you can find a team for your dad. I know how bad it can get--I have to tell my mom what she's eating now as she can't identify the food anymore. She doesn't socialize either although she used to. Good luck with your dad.
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oh, and *of course* we have addressed his vision medically! i spend half my life at various dr appts these days. he has already had cataract surgery and gets regular injections for macular degeneration. i have a feeling there are cognitive things on top of this impacting his vision based on brain damage to the parts of his brain relating to vision. my friend who has a PhD in psychology was explaining to me how that happens with dementia, and i makes perfect sense for my dad.
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jeannegibbs, thanks for so many specific ideas. i usually do the laundry but could let him get involved. not sure that would be enough to seem "meaninful", but at least it would be something. not sure about dinner prep. will have to think on that one. i tend to buy things prewashed and cut to save time. i am alone with him and two young children, so my hands are pretty full! i don't think he would be able to see the videos at all. the way his vision is right now, he can see large lettering if it is like black on white. he can't see anything in photos. it is like they are too subtle or something. so i would imagine he can't tell what the images on tv are either. i have asked him if he remembers any of the old tv shows he used to watch and he doesn't. :( he isn't as bad as he sounds, but it is like he is only in touch with the things in his current life day to day, if that makes any sense.

i probably will insist he at least try day care at some point, but right now we are waiting for a round of medical tests before deciding if we are going to move, so it might not make sense to start here if we are.

i REALLY dislike his dr. i talked to on the phone about an antidepressant, and he was very clear my dad would have to want it. he was useless the last time we went in regarding that. i will be shopping for a new dr once we make the move decision as well.

ohmoondance, he didn't really have anything I would call a passion. he was married to his work, which was aerospace engineering. i have tried to think if there might be something he could tinker with, but things like that just seem to frustrate him now. he ends up getting angry and cursing. i already addressed audio books and music in my OP. he can't follow the normal rate of speech and that really frustrates him, so audio books would be a really bad idea. he does relate to some music, but much of it makes him cry as well. in fact it is listening to music that will often precipitate being suicidal because it reminds him of everything that is gone.
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What was a passion of your dad's ?? Something that you recall as a child that he loved? Find it & in any way possible make any part of that world alive for him.
You say he enjoyed reading. Get audio books. Play some old" Eddie Duchin" music you can get for free off of u tube & play it & he will love it.

For trouble with the sight -what is the reason? Seek medical treatment .
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I have the same problem... What's with the "I don't want to be around a bunch of old people"... my mom says the same thing!
Yesterday she said " I don't want to listen to some old lady complain all day"! LOL That's exactly what she does all day.. I really wanted to say that to her but I kept my trap shut..
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My husband and my mother, both with dementia, enjoyed folding small towels. I use washcloths as single-use hand towels. I buy them in all kinds of colors and patterns and textures, and it is kind of soothing the handle them. It is also a job that needs doing, so it doesn't feel like busy work. My mother is now in a nursing home, and I find it interesting that when she is very restless, they have her sit in a sunny hallway where they can keep an eye on her and hold towels!

Do you have silverware he could polish? Or shoes?

If you wash a load of shirts, could he put them on hangers?

Could he scrub potatoes or carrots? Does he have enough mobility to set the table? Corn season is coming up. Can he husk the ears?

My husband liked nature videos. With no commercials to disrupt the flow he could follow them better, and even if he missed some of the commentary it is great to see the birds migrating or the majesty of the grand canyon. He also like videos of old tv shows he used to love. Seeing an episode of Hogan's Heroes that he'd already seen many times over the years was pleasant for him.

I'd keep trying on the adult day care. Maybe you need to insist that he goes one half day per week, so you have time to handle your own appointment, and then see how that goes.

And an anti-depressant might be useful. He is not the first person with dementia who "doesn't want to live like this." I think that is an honest reaction to a horrendous situation. But he deserves to feel as good as he can in the situation, and if a medication could help with that it is too bad he is opposed to it. Perhaps his doctor could explain it to him and reassure him it is not a character defect!

Good luck! If you come up with some things that work, come back and tell us about them. We learn from each other!
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