I live in Burnaby, British Columbia, and while BC is not known for its harsh winters the weather pattern is clearly shifting towards short bursts of unexpectedly heavy snowfall and unending rains during winter months. On a recent visit taking my child to our family doctor, I heard folks chatting in the waiting room that a lot of people were sick these days since there was 'a bug going around'. I was amazed at how this phrase seemed to have become the universal norm for BC winters; with 'a bug going around' sufficiently explaining away all that ails us and our loved ones during flu season.
For many families within our Burnaby or Vancouver communities, caring for a loved one with Alzheimer's or a related dementia, can be very challenging at this time of year. The intent to stay at home with the senior loved one to avoid risk of infections posed by outings etc., can become a double-edged sword. Being indoors protects the senior from 'bugs' which may pressure their fragile immunity, but at the same time claustrophobia and boredom can become extremely overwhelming for the senior and family members involved in their care.
However, with some planning and having a few effective go-to activities can be a lifesaver for long winter days. The senior loved one dealing with dementia can be kept gainfully engaged while avoiding the risk of infections. I've selected a few of my favorite activities to share with you. These can help exercise both the body and mind while offering a little fun as well.
10 Indoor Activities for Your Loved One Living with Alzheimer's or a Related Dementia
Busy Bag: Fill a purse with familiar items such as sunglasses, keys, a handkerchief or wallet with familiar photos in it. Let them sort through the purse and discover the items. Working zippers or snaps can strengthen fine motor coordination.
Bird Viewing: Place a birdfeeder outside of a favorite window and enjoy the visitors.
Get Cooking: Have your loved one assist with cooking by peeling potatoes, snapping beans or stirring a brownie mix.
Memory Box: For a person with Alzheimer's or other dementias, the sense of touch can trigger memories. Fill a box with items that hold special significance to your loved one. Think about their hobbies as you fill the box with familiar items. We have some great tips to make a "Trip to the Beach" and "Nature Walk" memory boxes.
Turn up the Tunes: Even if conversation becomes difficult, many people living with Alzheimer's or other dementias still remember and respond to music. Make a playlist of songs from their youth and let them enjoy some familiar tunes.
Get Moving: If outdoor walking is out of the question, try indoor walking. Lace up your sneakers and cover different spaces/levels of your home. Make it interesting with a treasure hunt type activity for the senior.
Photo Albums: Looking through old photos on a chilly day can be heartwarming. Don't expect your loved one to remember every person in the album. If you come across certain photos that spark vivid memories, set them aside and keep them handy to revisit often.
Puzzles and Brain Games: Put the mind to work with puzzles or use one of these popular brain game apps ideal for older adults.
Get Crafty: Adult coloring books, scrapbooking or even cutting photos out of magazines can keep your loved one engaged. For coloring or writing, try jumbo crayons since they can be easier to hold and less likely to break.
Card Games: A game of Go Fish or Uno may be a great way to have some family fun. You can also play in teams. As an alternative, your loved one may also enjoy simply sorting the cards by color, value or suit.
While these may be helpful tips, it is important to keep in mind that activities should have meaning to the individual. Try not to engage in an activity just for the sake of it. Consider choosing familiar activities or one that relate to a hobby that your loved one enjoys.
And while all these activities can be productive and fun, a long-extended spell of miserable weather, can leave family caregivers tired and feeling burnt out. In such cases, getting the help of a professionally trained caregiver from Home Instead Senior Care (Burnaby and South Vancouver) can help alleviate the stress and provide crucial respite relief.
I hope that when the sun sets early and cold weather keeps you inside, these tips will help you and your loved one stay active and engaged.
Owner, Home Instead Senior Care (Burnaby and South Vancouver)
Alzheimer's and Dementia home care services are available. In-home care provides assistance to your loved one wherever they call home.
CALL 604-283-9434. Care Experts available 24/7.