Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease is challenging. Grandpa’s memories of breakfast may have gone away with the clean dishes but by setting a scene for activities that touch his heart, you might bring some balance to both of you. Offerings such as music, art or even visits from four-legged friends help patients in many ways.
Dennis Thompson Jr. authored an article on Everydayhealth.com showing the benefits of several helpful therapies for those who provide elder care at home. Music is one of the easiest to incorporate into a daily schedule. With such a powerful reference for our memories it is an ideal way to help with anxiety and confusion. Use these tips to help:
- Choose familiar music—Select popular music from his late teens to mid 20’s, paying close attention for any signs of stress.
- Try new music—If era compositions aren’t working, try ones that won’t be linked with memories. Look for happy, uplifting tunes.
- Tempos matter—Depending on your intended response, energizing or calming, you’ll want to put on appropriate music. “Stimulating music with percussive sounds and quick tempos will promote movement, and can help when trying to get Alzheimer’s patients to eat, bathe, or get dressed,” Thompson says. Opt for smooth, soothing melodies when looking for quiet responses.
- Go commercial free—Instead of listening to radio where commercial interruption is common and may confuse him, use CD’s or other “all music” sources.
While music may be the most accessible therapy for a companion to use during in home care, consider a few other options.
- Pet therapy—Many communities offer therapy animal visits. If you think your senior would benefit from such interaction, consider the type, size and activity level of the furry friend that would be best. To get more information about therapy pets, visit petpartners.org
- Art therapy—Art can inspire a person’s imagination and help them to “express feelings that are difficult to articulate.” Provide a few safe supplies and be ready to help.
- Religious activities—With frequent feelings of agitation, participating in religious activities can bring a sense of peace, provide important social interaction and keep him connected to a community.
- Scrapbooking—Taking time to capture old family stories can be rewarding for senior citizens and for their caretakers.
Sometimes, looking beyond the obvious daily struggles in a memory challenged mind, can bring lovely results. Creating something meaningful for the patient, connecting with stories of their past, and spending time with music from their generation can have great impact and result in small bits of respite for those extending senior care.