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My mother has moderate dementia. She can't enjoy the things she used to do such as reading, crossword puzzles, jigsaw puzzles or cross-stitch. She reads the same page of books over and over again, only reads the headlines of magazine articles and newspapers and looks at the pictures, and no longer has the comprehension or concentration to do jigsaw puzzles or crossword puzzles. When I try to suggest other things like adult coloring books, sticker by number books, other crafts, or card games like war she says they're too childish and she's an adult. I've looked online for suggestions and they are all things she'll object to outright like rummage boxes or giving her towels to fold. She's always hated housework and cooking so having her help me with those tasks is a no go. I'm in an apartment so no pets to involve her and no garden. Without anything else to do she watches TV all day and gets confused about what's real and present in her life and what's on tv. I am working from home right now and have to concentrate on work most of the day(I am working in the next room in an open floor plan so I do make sure to engage in conversation throughout the day) and it seems to be very wasteful to hire a caregiver when I'm home. Local senior centers are closed and she refuses to even consider adult day care even 1 day a week. I do make sure to make a local excursion to a store each day so she gets out and gets some stimulation. She gets so bored but shoots down all my suggestions and doesn't have the capacity or comprehension to continue to do what she used to without giving up after 30 minutes or so. Anyone have any suggestions?

My mother is the exact same way, but lives in Memory Care Assisted Living. All the activities are "stupid baby games" and she constantly complains of boredom. All suggestions are refused and snubbed, she'd rather complain. She asks me if she has to go to the activity room every day and if she can have a "day off"......but won't stay in her suite because it's too boring. I tell her yes, she needs to go to the activity room and she winds up having fun in spite of herself. Even when she's complaining about the other residents, at least she's interacting!

I would tell your mother she has to go to adult daycare a couple of days a week, it's doctors orders. Sitting around watching tv all day long will only ramp up her anxiety and confusion even more and she needs other adult interaction and stimulation. Hiring a caregiver a couple of days a week is not a waste of money either because you are working from home...not sitting with her for extended periods of time or taking her for a walk or coloring together, etc. Having someone devoted to spending 4 hrs at a pop with her a couple days a week, plus daycare, will break up the drudgery and help her out.

Lastly, if your mother has the ability to spend 30 minutes on ANYTHING, that's quite wonderful! Expecting a longer attention span from someone with moderate dementia is unrealistic. You may want to get her some stickers and colored craft paper and have her work on "cards" and things like that when she loses interest in an activity. Look on Amazon for "activities for dementia " also as they have so e interesting things. Simple sewing cards are good too, the ones with colored yarn.

Good luck!
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Reply to lealonnie1
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My mother was in that exact same place about 2 1/2 years ago.

Do you have family pictures where she can identify the people in them? If she's still able to recognize faces from a long time ago, set her to work doing that. Also consider giving her a list of questions and having her record her memories of various times in her life on a digital recorder. Sometimes their memories of time long ago are better than the current days, so take advantage of what memory she still has left and try to get some of that information down for posterity. Take some of it with a grain of salt, because she may not get all the details correct, but giving her something to actually THINK about is a good exercise for her mind.
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comicgirl11 Jan 17, 2021
Great idea. She did the whole family history many years ago. The next time we go down to her house to pick up more of her things I'll try and find all the pictures she has and set her to labeling them.
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I would try doing simple crafts that can be used around your home for room decor. Ideas on YouTube even with items that can be bought at Dollar Tree Store. Years ago I had Mom help me decorate artificial Christmas wreaths that were her gifts for each of her adult Grandchildren. She enjoyed that.

She might be realizing that even the simple things are now too confusing for her to even start which can cause depression. So if you were able to do things with her it might help. On your day off work, early in the day. Maybe for only an hour or less. Have her help make cookies. My husband even helps me do that.

I have found music gives my husband great joy and he loves to sing along.It is amazing how the words come back to them. I play old Lawrence Welk tv shows for him and that gives me free time. Because he never remembers that he has seen the show before, I can play the same show over again. He also enjoys playing the game, Shut The Box with me. It is amazing how he still has recall of numbers and adding them. He was always a wiz at numbers.
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Get her a huge stack of National Geographic magazines. The pictures are beautiful. Old ones are just as interesting as new ones. Have her talk to you about what she "reads" by commenting on the colors, the people, animals, buildings...
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Reply to Taarna
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This is a common challenge. I think you’ve received and come up with some great ideas. Having an aide come over to engage her or sending her to daycare as “doctor’s orders” sounds like a good starting point. I also like the ideas of her creating a cookbook or labeling family photos (or sorting if labeling is too hard).

My husband was a specialist in nuclear medicine, so when his cognitive abilities declined and he couldn’t engage in his typical activities, there was no way he was going to color, sort or do crafts. Brain damage from a stroke meant he couldn’t even watch TV because he couldn’t process the visual meanings of it.

Thankfully, he had cultivated the practice of meditation, so he mostly preferred a quiet house and did this. We also looked at the weather predictions, emails, and news websites. Sometimes, he liked music and aromatic oils. Hand massages worked, too. I set up a schedule of friends and family calling every other day for 10-15 minutes. He liked giving advice, and it was amazingly sound advice. Also, we would sit outside or in the car (in the driveway) for a change of scenery. (He was nearly blind, so he didn’t like sightseeing.)

I often felt like he wasn’t getting enough mental stimulation. If he was physically capable, I would have sent him to adult day care at least to try. But, he got overwhelmed easily in busy situations, so maybe that wouldn’t have worked. Just do your best. 💕
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comicgirl11 Jan 20, 2021
Thank you for the experience and suggestions. I'll have to explore the music stations in my cable package. She does still love to sing along to music but I can't get any station she likes in the house and the last time I tried to bring her CDs home she said she was tired of them and to leave them. Maybe I can find some CDs she'd like at a thrift store.
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I think hiring a caregiver might be a good idea. Maybe 1 day a week would be enough to give mom a little bit more stimulation. Even just a different person might be enough of a change. If mom has been a regular at a place of worship there might be a volunteer that would be willing to spend time with her. An old friend to come for tea or coffee, playing cards with a friend might be different than with you.
If these suggestions won’t work maybe....
having her cut coupons
cut recipes out of magazines
taping the recipes on a piece of paper
What would happen if you sat her at the table and placed a project like a puzzle in front of her and then you go into your office and work for a while. Would she work the puzzle? Even if she did not do the puzzle but stacked the pieces, sorted them by color or shape it would be something she chose to do
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Reply to Grandma1954
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comicgirl11 Jan 17, 2021
Thank you for the suggestions. Great ideas. I do get a lot of cooking magazines. I'll have her start ripping out the ones she likes and making a To Cook Book. Hopefully she'll like that. She also has a daily cat calendar that she likes ripping the pages off of. Maybe she'll make a collage of her favorites. Sadly as part of the dementia she broke off all of her friendships before anyone including I knew it was dementia. All of this happening right before Covid and her moving across state lines with me has left no opportunity to find more friends. Sadly she has no interest in online senior center events with people she doesn't know.
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Would she consider doing big abstract needlework pictures with yarn on burlap? Maybe attempt to replicate or do things comparable to abstract painting with yarn?
Would she be able to do Bargello using the same kind of materials?

Painting line drawing greeting cards with water colors? I’ve bought some very sweet postcards that can be colored with any coloring medium, then sprayed with fixative. If she were to mail some and get compliments from the recipients she might enjoy that.
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Reply to AnnReid
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My mom is very negative too. Nothing I suggest is anything she wants to do. UGH!

But I wonder if you left some of these activities for your mom, if she might do them, even if she says no? What if you got adult coloring and did it with her, to get her going? If she sees you doing it, maybe then she'll see it's not babyish and actually relaxing and fun.

Simple cardgames aren't babyish. My mom and I play skipbo, mexican train dominoes, and aces up (like a double solitaire). She only has MCI so not sure if these would be too hard for your mom but worth a try.

Mostly I just let my mom be bored cuz she won't do much of anything to help herself. If/when she has moderate dementia, I think I would insist on days at the senior center and hope that she gets used to it, etc.

You need some uninterrupted time to concentrate on your work so either daycare or in home care for at least a chunk of hours a couple days a week seems like it would be really helpful.
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Reply to againx100
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comicgirl11 Jan 17, 2021
Thank you. I've tried doing activities to try and get her interested in them like the adult coloring books and sticker by number books. She doesn't bite even after asking her for help. I think everyone is right and I need to have a caregiver a few hours a couple of days a week to give her someone to new talk to. She definitely enjoys talking to clerks and cashiers when we go out.
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"comicgirl11,"

My mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer's at the age of 89 back in 2014. I moved her into her first ALF and the only thing she wanted to do was go to their community room when they played BINGO. She stopped going to that and they asked her if she wanted to color and she said "No, I'm not a child."

Now she is almost 96 and completely bedridden. She will color now, they did some mini birdhouse painting and made some kind of craft using large paper coffee cups. Then I remembered that long before she ever had Alzheimer's, she loved to play her handheld poker game to relax and unwind before bedtime.

They became very hard to find because everything is on phones and computers which she doesn't use either one. But when the pandemic began last year, it seemed like they were selling them on Amazon just for the purpose of helping elderly people have something to pass the time. So I bought her one (all her other ones wore out over the years from playing them so much) and that's what she has beside her bed in the MC wing. It's the easiest for her to play. I know they also have Yahtzee and Solitaire which she's played the real games most of her life but, those handheld ones have become too complicated for her now.
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Reply to NobodyGetsIt
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Does your mother actually complain of boredom, or are you inferring that from her loss of interest after the thirty minutes or so?

Does her confusion of t.v. and reality bother her, or only you? If she believes, say, that she just had a visit from the former President and he asked her what to do about global warming, does it upset her or does she just want to tell you about it?

Regular social stimulation is good, generally speaking. But as long as your mother isn't climbing the walls or becoming frustrated by the loss of her abilities, I should pick other battles. I can remember a popular poster from way back that read "sometimes I sits and thinks, and sometimes I just sits" - it may be that your mother is becoming content to do nothing most of the time as she begins to wind down, so let her lead the choices.

I also agree, though, with the suggestion to think again about hiring a caregiver/companion for a couple of hours, maybe not even as much as once a day; or you could do some local research and see if there are any befriending services (often voluntary, these are) in your area.
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