What to do to keep busy with her? - AgingCare.com

What to do to keep busy with her?

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Mom's in a retirement home with nursing staff (I believe most you know it is assisted living?). She has, I'd say, "moderate" Alzheimer's. She is pretty socially active there: plays all of the card games, goes out on excursions, etc. She's not what I would call "with it" when she plays these games, but she participates nonetheless.

I see her a couple of times a week, and take her out. The end goal is usually to have something to eat at my place, or at a restaurant. Sometimes a little drive is involved.

Is there anything else I could be doing with her to keep her busy? Something that DOESN'T involve a great deal of TALKING? (Words are failing her big time now, and she is forgetting some shared memories, and she has no curiosity about anything that's happening around her/in our lives. It's a lesson in frustration.)

We used to play a lot of Scrabble, but that's turned into a nightmare.

She used to play a lot of solitaire on our computer, but now insists that she's never seen it played where you put the Aces up top, and deal out three cards at a time, and play red/then black/then red, etc.

She used to fold laundry and help chop up vegetables, but even that is too much for her now.

Is there anything else I could be doing with her to spice up our time together?

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Ever thought of recording her life story? Then your future generations can listen to your mothers voice tell her favorite stories and memories.
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Chris, I've walked my mom along a path next to a creek (I use a companion chair for mom). We've had lunch (a picnic) next to the playground along that path, so she can watch the little kids playing. The moms will often bring over the little ones to say hi to my mom, which is great. I've also taken her for drives in an arboretum or for a walk (again in the wheelchair) in a public garden. Just check it out first, to make sure you could get a chair along the paths. I've also walked both her and my dad in a big nearby mall. Just being out around the lights and sounds and lots of people (young and old) is a different kind of atmosphere to the place where she lives (where everyone is old). I would also consider outdoor concerts of music mom might like and/or parades.
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Geewiz: Oh, yes! The playground! She is nuts for children -- maybe this will help bide the time, and give her fresh air! Manicures are something they've done at the retirement home with the activity coordinator, but it's not "professional", and taking her somewhere else to have it done properly might be fun! I do have a playlist of songs on my iPhone strictly for her in mind; so, yes you're right, that's always a good distraction. Your list is fantastic. (I have zero creativity when it comes to thinking of things to do with her. Your ideas are very helpful!)

I'm honoured to be among a group of wonderful people who are so willing to lend an ear.
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Hi Chris, welcome. Some additional ideas as it sounds as if your Mom is still mobile. Can you bring her to a playground to watch the kids play? It can be great entertainment and the seniors love seeing the smaller children. If going out for a full meal becomes too much, how about a stop for ice cream or another treat. Shorter in duration and fewer choices. You might take her for a manicure. You can both get them. As for the laundry, try having her do only the simple pieces. Hand towels and face cloths for example. You can change the card games she plays to one of sorting the deck by color or suits or numbers vs picture cards. If your family sang together she is likely to still remember the old songs and my Mom and I had great fun singing the oldies. (You can get the words on line to help along). Ditto for saying prayers to gether if she said prayers. Make a new photo album for her. Only those people she knows currently along with photos of her and her family growing up as a child. You can also lead her in 'chair exercises'. Raise her arms, move them in circles, march in place, etc. They all keep her extremities moving. You might also try coloring books. Sometimes these are a big hit. Good luck.
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Hi Torie! Such a good suggestion and, yes, we've done the scrapbook thing. That was one of the activities I'd thought about too. It makes sense: it's a simple, time-consuming activity which requires no pressure to perform. In fact, it might even be pleasant. But it holds no interest for her anymore. Actually, she's always wanting to foist the photo albums off on us. When we have tried to take a trip down memory lane (ironic, eh?), she can't remember most of the people, or where she was at the time. She gets frustrated and sad. I get frustrated and sad. Thank you, though, for taking the time, Torie. Perhaps what I'm doing is about the most I can do: take her for a wee drive and have a bite to eat.

Marialake: I'm so sorry for your predicament. (There's always someone who has it worse than I. At least my mom's somewhere else.) The stage your mother-in-law is at is what I have to look forward to. *sigh* And it's your mother-IN-LAW, too! I've only been on these boards for a couple of days, so I'm not familiar with your story. (Are there no other children of her own to help out? And -- save for a small minority of men -- why is it that the women in families tend to get "saddled" with looking after everyone? But these are questions for another thread, perhaps?)

Thanks, dear ladies. We might not have all the answers, but at least we have a place to unload!
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Great question. Sad truth is that since I am solely responsible for all my MIL's daily care I cannot be responsible for her entertainment too. Nothing much holds her attention anymore and yes, I still try but to no avail. At this point in her disease, she just stares. At the walls. At me. Won't even look at the tv.
In her world - life is all about her physically. Mostly, she says "It's cold." or "What's it doing out there?" - meaning the weather - or "I want a cookie". Nothing holds her interest these days. She stares at pencil, or spoon or book - like she's looking at aliens. When she is cold, I've tried to gently blow warm air from a hair dryer under her covers. She screams and says it's too hot. (Believe me, I am very, very careful to only blow the air for a couple seconds, not close to her skin etc. I did it for my husband when he was sick and he loved it).
I feel guilty but by day's end I need a bit of down time for myself and am too exhausted to entertain her. :(
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What about watching her favorite TV shows from years ago on the computer? Or a slideshow of family photos. If she doesn't remember who is who or that they are people she knows, that is OK. You can say that they are relatives of yours and you thought she might like to see them.
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