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My 92-year-old FIL had a tiny stroke 2 years ago. He has some mental restrictions now. He cannot work the microwave or a phone. After 2 years, he can set his thermostat accurately most of the time. He can remember his favorite TV stations and what time his favorite shows are on. His balance is off, he won’t exercise, and he won’t leave his rooms. He doesn’t like to read. All he does is watch TV. He doesn’t like people, but he needs me to spend time with him several times a day.


I am looking for ways to keep his mind active.


I have tried simple large-piece puzzles, but those aren’t working. He will sit and try, he likes the colors and the completed picture, but he cannot put the pieces together unless I hand one to him and show him exactly where it goes. He seems to enjoy sitting with me and trying, but it has to be hard to not get it, though he doesn’t act frustrated. I ask him to look for edge pieces. He seems to forget what his task is because he starts trying to put pieces together, which never go together. He will look for edges for a minute or two and then go back to trying to put pieces together.


He enjoys trying to match Old Maid, UNO and face cards, but with just two of us, it is hard to have him “win”. Games like concentration I think are good for him, but don’t work well if we play against each other.


I hope some of you can suggest activities or tasks that he/we can do while sitting for about a half hour at a time. Things that exercise his mind and gives him a sense of accomplishment.


Thanks.

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Sorting coins or guy type things like matching nuts and bolts or separating nails from screws are popular activities that can be recycled as long as they show any interest. Simple household tasks like folding laundry (towels and washcloths) can occupy time too.
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utahpilot2 Jan 11, 2020
Good ideas. He feels bad that he cannot help.
I let him wash his dishes, though I have to rewash them.

Thank you!
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Have you tried adult-style coloring books? My friend's 90+ yo dad with pretty advanced dementia and short-term memory loss likes them a lot and he spends a lot of time coloring. I understand your plight. Same this is going with my MIL -- all she does all day is watch tv (but not the news, so making conversation with her is almost impossible unless it's stuff in the way past). Please understand that you are not obligated to be your FIL's entertainment committee. It will become harder and harder to keep him engaged in anything and he will mostly just watch tv, and maybe not even that. My MIL did very enjoy watching the birds and squirrels at the feeder...is this an option? Hope this helps!
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utahpilot2 Jan 11, 2020
Wonderful ideas, thank you.
I will try the coloring; I can’t see him doing that, but definitely worth a try.
I think bird feeders are an excellent idea. It could be tricky because we have a lot of high wind. Maybe my neighbors have some ideas.

I do think of myself as his entertainment committee. 😏
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This website has a whole bunch of activities designed for folks with dementia:

https://www.seniorlink.com/blog/activities-for-dementia-patients-50-tips-and-ideas-to-keep-patients-with-dementia-engaged

Good luck........you are a wonderful DIL to be helping your FIL out this way, bravo to you!!!
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utahpilot2 Jan 13, 2020
Thank you 😊
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Geaton, GREAT idea!   

UtahPilot, Dover has a extensive selection of coloring books, ranging from those for children and those for adults.    And it wouldn't even matter if the colors match or anything - he'd be making a choice in selecting the pictures and colors, so there's some element of executive decision making.

I get free sample selections on a weekly basis by e-mail.   They're copyright free; I've printed some out and used them to make cards.    Samples range from flowers, animals, cars, trucks, and (given your screenname) WWII plants.

Let me know if you want links or specific categories.  


I think that dominoes, Chinese checkers, or Tri-ominoes could also work.   It doesn't matter if the numbers or colors don't match, it's the idea of creating random combinations that could stimulate him.  These games can be played alone; that's what I often do when I need a diversion. 

And play soft or his favorite music during activities; it helps induce relaxation.
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JoAnn29 Jan 11, 2020
I used to have Dover for my kids.
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Listening to his favorite music or music from his time: It stirs alot of memories for older people when they listen to music, especially from their past. Looking at old photos and talking about past memories also helps, too. Have you given any thought to special exercises that he can do while sitting? Does this place that he lives in have things like bingo? Seniors like bingo and has some good health benefits for them as well. As for movies, I would recommend slapstick, screwball comedies..I would think that he would like the classic ones, plus they say laughter is the best medicine.

Link on the health benefits of bingo: https://www.leisurecare.com/resources/why-do-seniors-love-bingo/
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utahpilot2 Jan 13, 2020
Thanks for your suggestions.
He lives in a little trailer next to our house with his two dogs.
Bingo is a good idea.
And he is a western movie man. He has seen most of many, many times.
That and shark tank.
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Others have already taken my initial suggestions: Coloring, sorting, simple household chores, and a bird feeder.

Find things that fit with what he always seemed to like. My mother was always very artistic and loved "creating," so the adult coloring books were perfect for her. Great for the fine motor skills, too.

I don't know if your father would take to this, but my mother the LOVES "balloon ball" game her caregiver plays with her. Quite simple really: get two of those foam swim noodles, a few balloons (they do tend to pop occasionally) and two chairs. Sit about 8-10 ft apart and hit the balloon back and forth. It gets my mom's arms and body moving and helps hand-eye coordination.
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utahpilot2 Jan 13, 2020
Thank you. Another great idea.
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I must say, I love when the OP actually responds to our responses. Thank you, utahpilot, and may every day be filled with zero stress and lot of fun!
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utahpilot2 Jan 24, 2020
😊
zero stress and fun — excellent goals worth striving for. Thank you, bluefinspirit, for your help. 🌸
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Another thought:  there are CDs specifically designed for relaxation...harp music, slow music which soothes and calms, waves lapping on shores, and more.   We played them when my sister was batting advanced cancer and had trouble sleeping.
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The fidget blankets are very popular. He can keep his hands and mind busy doing the different activities on the blanket. Just google fidget blankets.
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utahpilot2 Jan 24, 2020
NeedHelpWithMom - thanks, I haven’t heard of those. He always has a blanket on his lap. I will look into those.
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There are videos on YouTube of fish. Much easier than maintaining a fish tank!
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SNeedsAVacation Jan 14, 2020
Youtube is a great place for fish videos. I made a lot of mistakes when I had my tank and eventually my fish got sick. Ended up doing tank maintenance twice a week because I didn't have space for a bigger tank. My poor fish really needed 30-40 gallons.
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