Enjoying dementia! What the heck? Many would argue, “What’s to enjoy about Alzheimer’s disease or any form of dementia?” Believe me, I agree. It’s a bum rap!
With that said, care partners and family members of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease need to find a way to put enjoyment into a less than fabulous diagnosis.
The month of August is Family Fun Month. We know we need more fun. We desperately need more joy. We need to find and shed more positive light on memory loss. But how? When we are so exhausted from the tasks, the chores, the worry, the anxiety, yes, the lack of sleep, it’s a challenge some days just to get out of bed!
All is not forgotten. Retrogenesis is term coined by Dr. Reisberg, meaning, “back to birth.” As individual’s age and progress with their dementia they forget more readily that which just occurred. However, generally the long term memory stays in tack for a greater amount of time. To demonstrate this, mom may forget that she just ate lunch 10 minutes ago, but she can tell you all about her childhood dog, Scruffy with the fondest of memory.
It is possible to put more enjoyment into your stressful day by gauging where your loved one is in their personal journey with Alzheimer’s disease. Try to learn a few things that you can reminisce about, in addition to planning fun activities in accordance with their level of ability:
- Fun events
- Family vacations, trips, travel
- Work, careers
- Raising a family
A little creativity on your end may be necessary. Avoid asking direct questions that a definitive answer is needed. This often puts the person with cognitive impairment on the spot to have to remember an answer. This can cause the individual to resist, say no, or respond with a negative behavior. Using the phrase, “Tell me about…” is a great way to open the discussion with no expectation of remembering a name, place, date, or specific information.
Even though the new person you are learning about may not be able to do what they used to in the manner they were once able, it doesn’t mean they can’t do anything! Let’s put the fun in functional and find a way for our loved ones to contribute, gain a sense of belonging, engage with their environment and remember the good old fun days!
If you’re in a pinch, enjoy National Banana Split Day this August 25 and make your own Sundae Funday, any day!