Activities for home bound individuals will vary widely depending on their interests, physical abilities and cognitive abilities. They can be for entertainment purposes only, or they can have a utilitarian function, such as caring for oneself or helping the household to run more smoothly. The right activities can help your loved ones meet their social and self-esteem needs. In general, there are three types of activities that caregivers find useful: Passive, energetic and interactive.
Passive activities require no participation on the mart of the senior. Watching the television, listening to the radio, reading and sleeping are all examples of passive activities. Passive activities are not bad - most people enjoy sitting in from the of the TV for a little while every day or taking an afternoon nap. Furthermore, your loved one may have physical and cognitive impairments that prevent him from participating in active or interactive activities. In that case, leaving the television or radio on is preferable to hours of silence.
If your loved one is more active, however, try to limit passive activities such as watching television to only a few hours a day. When you do provide passive activities for your loved one, try to make them meaningful. For instance, rather than simply turning the television on to whatever channel happens to be playing, try to find programming they might enjoy.
If your loved one is cognitively impaired by Alzheimer's or another form of dementia, avoid crime dramas or violent movies. People with dementia often have trouble with reality testing - distinguishing what is and isn't real. They often think the people on the television set are in the room with them and can become understandably frightened at having a gunfight going on in their bedroom.
If your loved one has a terminal illness, being very tired and spending more and more time asleep can be a natural progression of chronic disease. If their illness is not terminal, however, keep an eye on how much they sleep during the day. If you think they are sleeping too much, have a word with their primary care physician to determine which sleep patterns are normal and which are not. People who are recovering from an illness or injury may genuinely need lots of rest. On the other hand, seniors sometimes sleep a lot because they are bored or depressed. You may bee to gently encourage them to become involved in more active interactive pursuits.
These are activities that require some involvement and response from a person. They can range from doing puzzles such as crosswords or Sudoku, drawing pictures and craft projects to getting dressed or helping prepare dinner. Activities that require some action on your loved one's part can be extremely positive for self-esteem.
You can encourage your loved one to be active in many ways. One of the most important contributions you can make is allowing them to do as many activities of daily living as possible. Activities of daily living involve the things we do to keep ourselves alive and healthy, such as moving around, maintaining personal hygiene, dressing and eating, for instance. Even though a loved one may have physical or mental impairments, and even though it might be quicker to just provide care without their help, offer the chance for participation. Every little bit of independence the person maintains will play a role in increasing self-esteem.
It is also important to continue to participate in instrumental activities of daily living. Instrumental activities of daily living are not necessary for survival, but they do help maintain a sense of choice and independence. Examples include shopping, managing money, caring for pets or plants, preparing meals and doing housework.
Other instrumental activities of daily living that your loved one may be able to help with include folding laundry, dusting shelves, helping with shopping lists, watering plants, wrapping holiday presents and assisting with caring for pets.
One housekeeping activity that is not usually a good idea is vacuuming. It's just too easy to get one's feet tangled in the cord, which can lead to a nasty fall. If your loved one has cognitive impairments, you should also discourage cooking or ironing unless you are available to closely supervise. Other activities that require your loved one's participation include reading, writing, drawing, making shapes out of non-toxic clay or Play-Dough, doing jigsaw puzzles, doing crosswords, word search puzzles, or Sudoku, and helping to sort and identify old pictures. Use your imagination. You will be surprised at how much fun you are able to have.
Interactive activities rely on connecting with a person or pet. Sometimes the best activity of all is just having an engaging conversation. You can talk about a news story that an something funny that happened to you at work, or share a favourite childhood memory. You may also just want to sit quietly with your loved one and hold hands or offer a backrub. Time spent in silence with someone you care about can be just as precious as time spent discussing a topic.
Nina Pflumm Herndon, Executive Director of Sage Eldercare Solutions www.sageeldercare.com, shares this advice in the Handbook of Geriatric Care Management by Cathy Cress:
Dementia robs a person of his cognitive function, often leaving behind what seems to be nothing but a shell of the one who you knew and loved. Many people with late stage dementia spend most of their days sleeping or staring off into space. Often it is possible to engage the person in other activities. If you are caring for a loved one with dementia, this section provides a few tips for initiating activities.
Carefully selected activities can help keep seniors stay psychologically engaged and at peace with their lives. Home Care Assistance Montreal offers Cognitive Therapeutics in the home, contact us for more details.
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