My sister's brilliant discovery for distracting our beloved dementia-stricken mom to distract her from things that are causing her difficult behavior to become very hard to manage
She is primary caregiver and noticed that Mom was always tearing her used napkins to shreds. A harmless enough nervous habit, we guess.
My sister is her primary caregiver and she made a one day she took a look at buckets of old documents long waiting for someone to shred them. Seems a pretty common thing because, after all, who really wants to shred buckets of old bills?
OUR MOM! That's who! ! My sister got struck by the ingenious notion of seeing if Mom would show interest and put her nascent paper shredding talents to work for us all!
Mom was sundowning early one day so I set up the first shredding session. She seemed game. We started out with her preparing the documents for shredding...de-collating, emptying envelopes, removing staples, etc. and handing the shredder-ready stuff to me for insertion and its imminent demise.
I even had Mom doing some paper-feeding but the small narrow slot was difficult for her to manage. And we don't want any shredded fingers to spoil the fun! The whole time I repeatedly reinforced how much she is helping out the family. That made her feel proud, something I haven't seen in about 5 years, since she started becoming this new person.
Very soon it became obvious that Mom was more interested in shredding the papers MANUALLY, rendering the machine obsolete. She just kept tirelessly but gently tearing and tearing with better then usual focus. Her super productivity meant no need to put them in the shredder! I was off the hook!
And she was really into it! Enjoying it! So much so that after an hour, I was the one who called it quits but she paid me no attention and kept tearing it up!
Kind of reminds me of the feeling when a misbehaving child is convinced, through trial and error, to engage in an activity that they know they love...and love....and love. You know what I mean! "Again Mommy!! Again Daddy! AGAIN! AGAIN! AGAIN!!!"
Do you remember this VERY old joke that sort of fits here? This happens on a city bus between a passenger and his friend, the bus driver.
BUS DRIVER: "How's your mother doing?"
PASSENGER: "She thinks she's a chicken"
BUSDRIVER: "WHAT? ! A chicken!! What are you going to do?"
BUS DRIVER: "What do you mean, nothing!?"
PASSENGER: "We need the eggs."
We'd love to hear about similar things you may have discovered right in hour own home that serve to defuse unpleasant behavior, that have worked or not worked, fellow family caregivers. Thanks.