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I have spent lots of time visiting my Alzheimer's parent, first at a hospital, then now at a permanent care facility. I am not sure what to do to take up time during these times. There is not many things my parent is capable of doing. They can't engage in any type of game of any sort. They can't really talk, the words are all jumbled up.


So the things I have been doing is showing them photo albums of people, talking to them, mostly a one sided conversation with me talking, and I think maybe they understand half of what I am saying, and take them for a walk to the nice gardens to sit outside. But I feel like both of us get very bored.


I am looking for ideas as to what sort of things I could do or take with me?

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I would buy a walkman and get a few tapes or cds that he can enjoy. Or you can find cheap players at bestbuy and get headsets for almost any of the players, I am talking about something that sits on a shelf.

I would make sure and get a good case if you do an ipod, they are heavy enough to break when dropped and they are slickery.

I played catch with a stuffed animal with my granny. We also gave her a life sized baby doll and brought it little outfits from the thrift store. She couldn't understand much but she knew enough to love and hold that baby. She enjoyed the little outfits and caring for her baby. Maybe one of the therapy animals that are life like.

Hand massage is a great way to communicate without words.

Edit: combing his hair, manicure his nails all while telling him whatever you have been up to.

Maybe bring in a load of towels or washcloths and have him help fold them.

You can read outloud or play an audio book.

Really anything that you can get them to participate in is a good thing. Even if it feels juvenile to you, their new reality is so far from who they were. Nothing should embarrass you when you are showing them love. That is what they can feel.

Sometimes just being with them in silence is a good thing.
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NeedHelpWithMom Jan 28, 2020
Lovely answer...
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Mom's nursing home actually supplied iPods for the residents, although that was problematic because they were always either missing or out of batteries.

Try taking someone with you, that way the two of you can chat and your parent can participate or not.
Go when there are scheduled activities or entertainment, you don't have to do anything more than sit together.
Share a meal with them.
Sometimes being together is enough so you could just read or watch TV or a video, if there is internet available you can find all kinds of funny animal videos or old time music and shows on YouTube.
Getting outside is something that almost never happens for people with dementia because they need one on one supervision, so that was always enjoyed.
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Anyonymous1 Jan 26, 2020
Thanks Cwillie. Good ideas. There are lots of scheduled activities. I might ask for the roster from the facility so I can plan it. Maybe watch a movie. I might get an ipod also. I should really learn to use them. Im so useless at keeping up to date with tech
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Anyonymous1, my MIL is in LTC and, although she doesn't have ALZ (severe short-term memory loss/dementia), we take her saved boxes of the greeting cards she had received and kept from her sons and relatives and look at them together, especially the letters from her son when he was writing to her from Marine boot camp. Reviewing old photos of people they'd remember is good; playing music on the iPad from their favorite artists and if there's a video with it, all the better; also we discovered she loves to watch funny videos of goofy animal antics is a hit, since they can clearly see and totally understand what's going on in them and no dialogue to process. Best of all the facility allows us to bring in our dog, who she remembers and the dog remembers her, and she enjoys petting it and receiving its love and attention. Wishing you peace as you journey down this path together!
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There isn't much TO do, which is why I limit my visits to about 1 hour. The best thing I find is to bring food items and small gifts/necessities, etc. The one thing my mother loves to do is eat, and eat and eat. So food always brightens up her otherwise negative outlook, at least for a few minutes. I also take her outside if the weather permits, which isn't often in winter. Music is good, too, since it seems to soothe demented minds a lot. My mother hates photos...in fact, she made me take all of her photos & albums home with her, and has none on the wall or the table tops. Dementia is a horrible disease which robs everybody of everything, even us, the loved ones, huh?

Best of luck!
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We have been down the folding socks and washers and hand towels, the aged care unit overdid those activities with my mother. Likewise puzzles, painting, nail painting She hates all those activities now. So we have had to think outside the square more than usual. These are just some of the activities we have come up with. They mostly get left at the aged care facility for the carers to amuse our mother, but they also work for single visits.
1. If you have any of your parent's family heirlooms, and know their history, take one on each visit and discuss it with your parent. It is a variation on heritage photographs, it adds a different dimension where the patient can touch and feel the item. And it can trigger memories and thus conversation. Even if there is no conversation it can be a ''safe'' mental space to dwell on the past and the history of those relics.
2. Work on ''fiddle'' box ideas, does not matter the gender of the patient. Think of all the interests your parent had over the years and assemble items appropriate to those interests. For instance, our mother as a keen but practical sewer all her life. She can no longer handle needle and thread, or even knit or crochet, however she is intrigued by a box of fabrics of differenttexure and colour, laces braids and appliques, tape measure, blunt end scissors, cottons on old reels etc.
3. Think of something practical to do. Dementia patients want to do something meaningful. In the post-war years when everyone was very poor they recycled old knitted items. So we sometimes find a woollen garment, help her unpull it, put it into skeins, wash out the crinkles, then help her wind the wool into balls. It is surprising our lucid she can become while she is concentrating on the winding and unpulling processes. On occasions the conversation flows back and forth so easily.
4. During her early nursing career bandages were washed and re-used. Nurses spent their time winding the bandages around a pencil. Variations on human bandages are horse floating bandages (she used to roll then for my horse-mad sister), and interesting broad ribbons from gift wrapping. They tell a story of the event, they are varied in texture, widths, lengths, colours and events.
5. We are currently gathering a collection of old jewellery that has no commercial value whatsoever. (Makes it less likely to ''disappear''.) Single earrings, club and organisation badges, travel tokens, old jewellery bags, ring cases, necklaces with broken clasps, non-operational old watches, coloured stones, even little trinkets from an old doll's house. We have a broken old jewellery case, mother will enjoy touching and organising this little treasure trove.
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Good luck, with one of the most boring (and depressing) month, Feb, around the corner.
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Isthisrealyreal Jan 26, 2020
I guess that depends on where you live shad. I live where this is our outdoor days. February is one of the best months, 70s. Yummo!
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Does she like dogs or cats? The Joy for All animatronic dogs and cats are fairly lifelike and run on batteries. I bought my husband (a long-term care resident) one of the cats last year for Christmas. It purrs, meows, and even rolls over on its tummy for scratching when rubbed in a certain place. They aren't inexpensive; it was about $75 on sale and now apparently run about $100 (https://joyforall.com/products/companion-cats). Because personal possessions seem to have legs in long-term care centers, I bring it to him in an old cat carrier that we used when one of our cats was a kitten and take it home with me. After all, "he" wants to be around our other cats so he won't be lonely. It probably doesn't fool my husband, but that's just how it is.

I also play YouTube videos of the music that he used to like. A funny story: A year or half ago or so we were watching a Bruce Springsteen video and one of the guys in Bruce's band played a great saxophone solo. I said, "Wasn't that sax great?" Hubby said, "Yeah. I like sex." My reply, "I like sex, too."

My husband can still walk (he just turned 64), so in good weather we walk outside. Until at least mid-April or early May (and even then with a jacket), we walk inside. It's so important for the ones that are still ambulatory to be walking. Even with the people with walkers might enjoy walking a little and the people who use wheelchairs might want to look out windows where they can see some of the outside world if they live in a climate where winter will have a hold on us for a while longer!
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jacobsonbob Jan 28, 2020
That conversation about the sax was great.

I've brought my computer along with headphones so I can let my very hard-of-hearing mother listen to YouTube. She seemed to enjoy this, and I liked that she could watch it, too. I plan to do this again soon so I can play some videos demonstrating unusual musical instruments, a cute K-pop video and a couple pretty Chinese songs.

Other times I try to play "show and tell" by bring in such things as old or foreign coins, pictures, etc.
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Give them some music
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Anyonymous1 Jan 26, 2020
How do you do the music? Do you take an ipod or something? Im such a luddite for a millennial. I need to work out getting some technology to do this.
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I have been taking ice cream. They love ice cream. Often I have had to spoon feed them. When they were at the normal hospital I was fine with spoon feeding. But the last time at the care facility there was about 30 people all around so I was too embarrassed for my parent to spoon feed them with all those people watching, so I tried to get them to eat it themselves. Turned into a big mess and they didn't want to eat it anymore.
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Isthisrealyreal Jan 26, 2020
Time to get over caring about what others think.

Being spoon fed is less embarrassing than making a mess because you don't have the ability to feed yourself.
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I am a talker. There were some in Moms AL that still had their minds. So I would talk to them sitting Mom so she could hear. She was not much on talking at that time. The staff kept her in the common area so she could watch the comings and goings. When she went to LTC, there was a woman who visited her DH and knew Mom. We would talk with Mom near. The woman who say to Mom "Isn't that right, Peg" or "what do u think Peg". Loved her for it. I never stayed long either place. Its hard trying to be the entertainer.

My daughter crocheted a "Twiddle Muff" for Mom. The director liked them so much, she ordered 4more. You can find them on the internet. There are blankets too.
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