1. Our next Q&A session is on the topic of Christmas and dementia.This time we want our Q&A to involve our resident experts, you! Share tips and advice on navigating Christmas here in this thread.

    Pop by and post your questions or if you prefer you can email your question to us at talkingpoint@alzheimers.org.uk and we'll be happy to ask them on your behalf.
  1. Tartel68

    Tartel68 Registered User

    Jul 27, 2015
    Hi am new to this forum. My dad has been diagnosed with MCI, early onset Dementia, he is 80 years old and my husband and I are his sole carers. We live in Turkey, but at the moment its far to hot to venture out during the day, dad likes to go to bed early, so we don't get out much of an evening. My question is, does anyone have any ideas of activities that I could get my dad to participate in, other than watching the TV? He used to love doing crosswords, but won't touch them now, he has a kindle, but keeps forgetting how to use it, even though I tell him, its not a problem if he keeps asking me how it works, we have got him ordinary books with a magnifying necklace, which he just won't use, I try to play card games with him, but he just isn't interested and gets bored, we recently purchased a new model kit for him to make as he also used to loves these, he won't even look at it, even though I have said I will sit with him and help him, he just sits watching the TV all day and goes outside every no and then for a fag!!!! I tried to get him in the garden, but he fell and won't go out there any more! I even asked him today if he wanted to do some colouring in, I won't repeat wat his reply was....anyo e have any ideas please
  2. Concerned J

    Concerned J Registered User

    Jun 15, 2014
    We sometimes have the same problem with Mum. She complains she doesn't do anything (she does - she just can't remember) but doesn't know what she wants to do.
    Yesterday (with my 3 kids in tow) we got out old photo albums and enjoyed the memories. The kids love seeing Gran and Mummy along with everyone else when they were young.
    Mum enjoyed remembering the past. The only downside was that so many people in the photos have now died & Mum remembered that.
  3. Tartel68

    Tartel68 Registered User

    Jul 27, 2015
    Yeah, dads like that too, as we lost my mum to cancer nearly 18 years ago, when talking about mum or mentioning her, he gets very upset, so I try to avoid the subject of Mum.
  4. balloo

    balloo Registered User

    Sep 21, 2013
    my mother in law use to do cross words but then went on to word searches and then picture puzzle on touch screen computer no she cannot do this either she has I would say late stage dementia .I was asking dementia help line over here were not much help as I had said what she could do but cannot now .another suggestion was looking at photos but that upsets my MIL so that's a No No we did make hanging baskets together as she loved gardening and we will be planting bulbs in pots later in year
  5. Suzanna1969

    Suzanna1969 Registered User

    Mar 28, 2015
    Oh I have this problem with my Mum. She doesn't seem to be interested in doing anything apart from pottering round the garden, which is something but of course not much use to you at the moment. Might he get involved with indoor gardening, herbs in pots etc?

    If your Dad used to do crosswords perhaps he'd like Word Searches? Mum used to like those before she had a damaging stroke. What about jigsaws? I got one for Mum for Christmas which was made from a lovely photo of her and Dad taken on his 80th birthday as I thought it might engage her more (it didn't but your Dad might be different).

    Photos? Do you have a load of family photos that need putting in albums and labelling? Mum loves looking through old photos and talking about the people in them, it's one of the few things that still lights her up.

    It's so hard to get a Dementia sufferer engaged in anything as the disease progresses. It's frustrating too because the less they do the faster they seem to disappear as a person.
  6. Katrine

    Katrine Registered User

    Jan 20, 2011
    #6 Katrine, Jul 28, 2015
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2015
    Hi there and welcome to TP.

    As Suzanna1969 says, it is frustrating when your loved one loses interest in hobbies and you feel responsible for providing them with stimulation.

    There are two aspects to this IMO.

    1. Your own feelings: guilt, frustration, boredom and sadness. "Couldn't I somehow do more to prevent Dad from withdrawing from the world? The more his world shrinks, the more ours does too." :(

    2. Your dad's wants and needs: mobility, mental stimulation, retaining fine motor skills, avoiding depression, avoiding anxiety, suitable pace of life, maintaining confidence and self esteem, doing things he enjoys, an environment that is focused on his needs not yours, predictable routine with no threats or challenges.

    You can see by looking at things from those perspectives that there are incompatibilities between your dad's needs and wants, and the needs and wants of you and your OH. You don't want (or need) to live your lives at the pace of an 80 year old.

    Your Dad reacts to negative experiences by choosing to avoid them. He fell in the garden so to avoid it ever happening again he won't go there again. He finds it difficult to read print and to use technology. It is upsetting and embarrassing, so he prefers not to try. He can't concentrate for very long, so gets bored with things like models, card games and jigsaws that he used to enjoy. The very things that once made these interesting to him are now the things he struggles with: mental focus, planning and problem solving, fine motor co-ordination, depth perception and other visual skills.

    I think you have to keep trying, but scale down what you offer to a very basic level so that your dad doesn't see 'new' activities as being big insurmountable hurdles that are best avoided. He sounds a lot like my mum was in the early stages of her dementia. She had insight into her diminished capabilities, and was always very risk averse.

    Have a look at how you can make his access to the garden safer. Does he need to lean on things, or to sit down suddenly? Has his vision diminished so that he can't anticipate hazards or deal with steps or slopes? Does he need better sunglasses and a hat so that he isn't squinting against glare? Would he accept a turn around the garden before bedtime when the garden is cooler? If he goes out regularly for a fag, use this as a opportunity to prolong his outside time by bringing out some drinks and maybe a snack to enjoy in the shade. I can't cope with too much sun and heat, but I can do 10 minutes before I need to come in and lie down, so perhaps your dad could stay out a little bit longer if he had company and a cool drink?

    For indoor activities, ideas might be to help you prepare food, fold laundry, water a potted plant, or choose a postcard to send to a friend. He will probably find this quite tiring. You cannot underestimate the amount of effort that is required to focus on a task when your brain is damaged. Sometimes you are thinking he is 'bored' when actually be has just had enough for now. They are not the same thing.

    He can be persuaded to do more than he thinks he is capable of. Just keep it simple and don't show disappointment if he gives up, or refuses. This is what a paid carer would do. They probably wouldn't be as disappointed or discouraged as you are; they would just try again later with something else. I am not saying that you are not a good carer BTW, it's just that as the child you want to please your parent so much that you can feel a failure if things you used to do seem no longer to work. It's like having the rug pulled from under your feet.

    Does he enjoy telling stories? Now is the time to capture those stories. My mum told me so many things that I had never heard before. She started to retell the old familiar anecdotes in more factual ways, instead of the way I had always heard them before - with her cast as either heroine or victim! Now that she can barely talk at all I treasure the times we had when she could still communicate well.

    I'm sure that's more than enough suggestions for now. :D Katrine x
  7. Tartel68

    Tartel68 Registered User

    Jul 27, 2015
    Thank you so much for the various suggestions, I will report back any changes is see in Dad x
  8. Long-Suffering

    Long-Suffering Registered User

    Jul 6, 2015
    How about music? I've been trying this with my dad recently and it has worked wonders, but only if he is in the right mood.

    He used to love reading, watching TV and doing stuff in the garden, but he's lost interest in and the ability to do all of these. For months now he's been unable to concentrate on anything for any period of time. Then just by chance a while back I started playing some old Irish folk music and he loved it and started singing along (well, making noises rather than singing). On good days now he'll ask for a song or sometimes even two. Even on bad days he remembers his music and he'll say unprompted "No Elvis today" :)

  9. Long-Suffering

    Long-Suffering Registered User

    Jul 6, 2015
    Another thing I just remembered. I'm a painter, and I send my parents copies of all my paintings. They have them in clear plastic wallets in a ring binder. Out of desperation one day, mum gave him that, hoping to keep him occupied for a minute or two, and he sat looking at it for 20 minutes (which as we all know is equal to a fortnight of relaxation for a carer in dementia land!)

    I'm not suggesting you paint him pictures, but maybe put together a book of pictures/photos that would be meaningful to him?

  10. Lavender45

    Lavender45 Registered User

    Jun 7, 2015
    I guess I have a similar problem in that mum has no interest in anything she enjoyed, but at the same time she cannot sit still for more than 5-10 minutes without getting up to do something.

    Some of what mum wants to do is unsafe, like wanting to climb onto the extension roof through the bathroom window to fix a loose connection in a pipe (she's almost 80). Others can be safer, things move around endlessly in our house and we are always hunting for something which mum never touched. I know she has no recollection of moving anything, but the constant need to be on the go is hard to deal with and her frustration when she cannot find her keys, purse, handbag, walking stick, or just about anything else can be exhausting.

    Like I said mum no longer gets enjoyment from her old activities. She could read a book in a day, she loved soap operas, she liked knitting and she loved gardening. To be fair she will still potter in the garden, but it was so sad when she asked what the red flower was and it was a rose, I think that's one of the,saddest things we've experienced so far.

    I've tried to get mum to do a jigsaw, but no and like you I suggested colouring, after all there are adult colouring books now aren't there, but no that was stupid, she just wants to have a hammer or a screwdriver in her hand, or she wants to sort a cupboard meaning that there will be more stuff we can't find. She also won't talk about family history as its none of my business. I can only think we have some deep dark family secret as she's never wanted to talk about the past.

    As you can tell I have no answers, but you definitely have my sympathy. Sometimes it seems really hard to know how to help direct someone into useful and safe activities especially when there is absolutely no way to use reason.
  11. Tin

    Tin Registered User

    May 18, 2014
    My mum says she likes to keep busy and its a physical not mental busy that she means. She'll look at the windows and say "I'll clean those tomorrow" or she will shampoo the carpet, cut the lawn etc, all tomorrow, of course tomorrow never comes and to avoid mum actually attempting to do these things I get to them first, just in case. My mum actually enjoys watching tv and I see nothing wrong with this, it gives some visual and mental stimulation and I'm in the room with her so she can give me her opinion about whats on. At 81 with Vascular Dementia, watching tv is not going to harm her.
  12. Linbrusco

    Linbrusco Registered User

    Mar 4, 2013
    Auckland...... New Zealand
    My Dad 77 has MCI.
    Slowly over the past few years his days are spent watching TV from morning to night, especially sport and animal programmes, but he loves it... This and going outside for a smoke also :rolleyes:
    He does go to his club one day a week, and does enjoy cooking. He does all the meals now for him & Mum.
    Any attempts to get him to join indoor bowls, or clubs or even a carers group have been met with a NO.
    Crossword puzzles, DIY, gardening have all gone out the window.
    Dad was an ex painter and decorator. A few months back he was painting his decking, with the totally wrong kind of paint. Something he would have never have done in the past.. But Oh well at least the colour sort of matched. :)

    Mum has Alzheimers. So much she cannot do, her one enjoyment is goin out.
    She goes to an Alzheimers activity group and a senior citizens one 3 x a week.

    The only shared interest both Mum & Dad have is music.
    I bought them a new CD player which Dad can work, and I even wrote in permanent marker on the buttons P for play, S for stop etc so Mum might be able to but sadly the player sits in a corner.

    A while ago, when attending a Carers group myself a gentleman was there,his wife with AD had just gone into a care home.
    He was complaining about his family who always wanted to get him doing things and going somewhere.
    He said I wish they would just leave me alone, it drives me crazy. I'm 82 for goodness sake I just want some peace and quiet to do what I want.
    This has always stuck in my mind when it comes to my parents :)
  13. Leolady63

    Leolady63 Registered User

    Jul 15, 2015
    Lack of interest

    My Mum used to crochet, read magazines, do gardening and puzzles but now she does little as she says she can't concentrate. She is in a care home and there is an Activities Co-ordinator but very little is on offer so she choose to stay in her room a lot. Any suggestions? I can't even take her out in the car now as she can't stand unaided.

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