Games and Activities for someone with dementia?

Discussion in 'ARCHIVE FORUM: Support discussions' started by bracknell59, Oct 29, 2004.

  1. bracknell59

    bracknell59 Registered User

    Oct 29, 2004
    3
    Cambridgeshire
    Hi there,

    I am a newbie on this board, but from what I have seen so far you all seem a really friendly bunch of people here....

    So, I wonder if there is anyone out there that could possibly help me?

    In February my 79 year old mother was diagnosed with Vascular Dementia. My father (who is 86 years old in a few months time) decided to look after her at home by himself - obviously I help out when I can but basically he looks after her himself. She has good days and bad days (which is typical of this disease I believe?) but recently she has started to get very violent towards him. She throws remote controls at him, throws cups of tea at him, delights in hitting him repeatedly with her zimmer frame and just generally wants to hurt him, for whatever reason! Anyway, to cut a long story short, she is coming out of hospital in a few days time and my father and our family were deliberating about putting her in a care home because my father feels the illness is winning and he can no longer cope with her at home. But because she isn't THAT bad yet, none of us really wanted to do that yet so I decided to give my job up and look after her every other day at my house to give both my mum and dad a break from each other, to see if that eases the situation a bit.

    What I was wondering was if anyone here knows of any places I could get hold of some games, like jigsaw puzzles for example, that I could get to help stimulate mum while she is at my house. She cannot walk without her zimmer frame so really is limited to sitting down all day, but I need some ideas to keep her occupied for the nine hours or so a day that I will be looking after her. Any help in this matter would be very much appreciated. Thank you and sorry my post is so long!
     
  2. barraf

    barraf Registered User

    Mar 27, 2004
    308
    Huddersfield
    Dear Bracknell59

    A lot will depend on how far the dementia has progressed, the further on it is, usually the shorter the attention span.

    Dominoes and simple card games like snap can sometime be ok, but they of course entail someone else playing with them.

    Music from the patients younger days is sometimes very effective.

    Some of the earlier Disney full length animated stories like Snow White, or Bambi often will hold their attention because they are colourful and have a simple storyline.

    Get in touch with your local Alzheimer's Society who may have a video library, if not they will have come across the problem before, and know where to turn.

    I am sure you will get a lot more replies from the members of TP, it is a great forum with a lot of great people.

    Cheers Barraf
     
  3. Jude

    Jude Registered User

    Dear Bracknell,

    Welcome to TP. Here's a few suggestions:-

    Videos - rent from your local library and vid shop
    Puzzles - quite often the Banardo's and Red Cross shops have simple children's puzzles with larger pieces.
    Photos - going through the family photo albums provides visual stimulation, helps memory and promotes conversation.
    Snakes & Ladders - this is quite an easy game for AD sufferers.
    Cooking - if you are supervising, then simple tasks will make your Mother feel useful.
    Writing Xmas Cards - very seasonal by your Mother could choose which card to send to whom...

    The main thing that I have found is to try and get my parents to do as much for themselves as possible. Laying the table for lunch, washing up [beware floods!], putting the cutlery away, etc. It all takes a whole lot longer of course, but helps keep the living skills in place.

    Hope some of the above may be of use.

    Best wishes,

    Jude
     
  4. bracknell59

    bracknell59 Registered User

    Oct 29, 2004
    3
    Cambridgeshire
    Thanks!

    Thanks to you both for replying to my post...I really will try the suggestions that you have put forward and take it from there....
     
  5. Kerry

    Kerry Registered User

    Hi there. My mum has got vascular dementia and as you say we have good and bad days but here are some of the stuff we have come up with to help her through the day.

    Adult colouring books - available from most bookshops and artists suppliers - we have a rule that whatever she wants to do in these goes - pink sky, green cats and purple horses. Use large water soluble felt pens or pencils

    Cake making - packet mixes supervised are good and there is often a good result at the end as well. We all enjoy eating the mixture straight from the bowl as well.

    Card making - cutting or tearing paper or even buying pre cut images that can be stuck on the front and then sent to friends or relatives.

    Making up a photo album and where possible asking for their stories or memories about the photo - it can surprise you what can come on occasions.

    We also play draughts, card games like pairs or snap (little bit difficult as she cheats!!!).

    Hope these help.
     
  6. Sheila

    Sheila Registered User

    Oct 23, 2003
    2,259
    West Sussex
    Hi Bracknell, there is a thread in th resources section entitled "things that help" you may find some more ideas there. Love She. XX
     
  7. bracknell59

    bracknell59 Registered User

    Oct 29, 2004
    3
    Cambridgeshire
    Thanks Chesca, for your kind words and advice...

    Lots of people I know have said, like you, that giving my job up to look after my mum was a really kind thing to do. I don't really look at it as doing anything special, only repaying her for looking after me when I was little, but thank you for your kind words anyway. I have to admit sometimes though, when she gets really angry and starts swearing and throwing things around - that I wonder if I know what I am letting myself in for! Only time will tell...

    Nobody can seem to give us any indication of how far the disease has progressed - in fact, we have never actually seen a doctor to talk it over with, only the Community Mental Health nurse who came to assess her a couple of weeks ago...We are still waiting to hear what the outcome of the assessment was - I suppose we shall have to chase them up, as usual.

    My mother also has a thing about tissues - she will pull them apart - use them and then 'hide' them whereever she can! Yuck!

    Today I received a phone call from the hospital she is in (she was admitted 3 weeks ago after falling over whilst trying to 'attack' my dad - something she takes great delight in - frequently!) saying that she had fallen over yet again whilst 'trying to climb out of the window to escape from the hospital'....Luckily she didn't hurt herself - this time...! Oh well...Carry on regardless...
     
  8. thompsonsom

    thompsonsom Registered User

    Jul 4, 2004
    97
    halifax
    Hi Bracknell

    I don't know how far in seeking help you and your father have gone but if you havent done so already, look into daycare which will be a valuble break for both you and your dad. Mum loves going to daycare and goes 3x a week, they do lots of things with them like cooking and playing games, getting a manicure etc... and you could use the break to maybe spend a bit more time with your dad who will also be feeling the strain.
    Get whatever help you can in the early stages as this does help to be able to keep loved ones at home longer.

    jan
     
  9. frazer

    frazer Registered User

    Sep 9, 2004
    42
    london
    photos

    Going back to the activities, i had an experience with old photos that you guys might have thoughts about.
    After my mum died earlier this year, we spent a lot of time going through old photos with my dad (who has AD) and it was something he seemed to enjoy although his attention span was short. Most of these pictures were from the 2nd world war.
    After a month or so, he started to imagine that he was in that era, and talk about waiting to be called up and stuff like that. This went on for several weeks, and was quite difficult for his carers. It also meant that the SS thought he had gone completely barmy. We stopped doing the old photos, and now he's back to his normal scatty thinking. It was quite scary, and i wonder if he "overdosed" on a particular period. It didnt do us any favours with the CP and put a black mark on dad's report.
    Any similar experiences?
     
  10. Jude

    Jude Registered User

    Dear Frazer,

    I've found that the 'old photos' need to be in short bursts, for very similar reasons, along with trips to 'former houses'. A couple of months ago I think I overdid it with the old photos and my father was phoning people at random from the phone book in Haselmere, asking whether they were still alive, whether the houses were still standing and how they were getting along and whether he could visit them!

    It was quite awkward and I had to disconnect the phone in the lounge for a while.

    Jude
     
  11. frazer

    frazer Registered User

    Sep 9, 2004
    42
    london
    photos

    Hi Jude, thats exactly what my dad was doing, and he got the phone books for where he lived in 1938 from the local library! I'm debating whether its a good plan to take him on a trip to scotland to visit his old haunts, or if that would be counter productive.
     
  12. TED

    TED Registered User

    Sep 14, 2004
    154
    Middlesex
    just trying to help

    hi
    we probably are repeating ourselves here, but it's good to keep checking whether anyone has anything new or 'unusual' ideas as I am sure that the carers are as easily fed up with trying to find things to do each day as the individual is with doing them

    here are a couple of things I've found that helps my mum
    She appears to enjoy drawing despite being classed as registered blind. I have no idea what her vision is like for she can still get around the house, open doors and things ok albeit slowly. So I have helped Dad and made a drawing table (bit like we'd have at school for those of us who did Tech Drawing before Computers came in and spoilt things)

    Constant supply of paper and pens etc
    doesnt matter what is drawn you just have to make up a lovely image for them, yesterday mum drew a peacock with all it's feathers on display even if I was the only one of the family that could see it amongst all the scribble.

    Something else is that once a week I pay for someone to come and do her hair or nails or something, only takes about an hour but she has someone to talk to, and doesnt seem to mind the fuss. Also as she doesnt seem to remember that well it doesnt matter if the person calling doesnt really do much with her hair or nails (it's a family friend and she knows the situation) but it's good company and can be fitted in during the day which helps Dad out.

    Sorry if some of my posts sound a little patronising too
    it's just the way I write on an impersonal level about this

    hope you all having a truely wonderful day
    TEDx
     
  13. Sheila

    Sheila Registered User

    Oct 23, 2003
    2,259
    West Sussex
    Hi, something I found helped Mum when she was in a bit of a paddy, was a duster and a tin of lavender polish. May sound awful, but she was always really houseproud. She polished our poor old dining table and chairs more in the three years she lived with us with dementia than I have in all the others! It was a lot easier than chasing off down the road after her on a dark night anyway. Love She. XX
     
  14. snuffyuk

    snuffyuk Registered User

    Jul 8, 2004
    188
    Near Bristol
    Hello.
    Many excellent suggestions. Could I also add a short period of physio type excercise that would also help to break the day up.
    Nothing dramatic but gentle excercise for ankles, knees,legs and wrists,arms. Apart from keeping those various limbs working it could be good for circulation.

    regards
    snuffy
     
  15. snuffyuk

    snuffyuk Registered User

    Jul 8, 2004
    188
    Near Bristol
    The initial posting was great but how does one organise games and activities for somone with Macular Degeneration + major hearing probs with Dementia ?
    snuffyuk
     
  16. Chesca

    Chesca Guest

    #16 Chesca, Nov 1, 2004
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 1, 2004
    Dear Min

    I could be doing with a bit of domestic enthusiasm myself. I keep hoping for a strike at Mr Muscle! Was it Quentin Crips, in refusing to clean his home, that said the dust sort of plateaus out after 4 inches..

    Mum used to be a very keen whist player and I have tried a pack of playing cards. Her natural instinct to shuffle them, the way she holds them, is always a surprise, but after that she lays them down on the table in some kind of sequence and shoves them around a bit. After that her concentration moves on to wherever she is in her mind at that moment.

    There is a new thread, Younger People with Dementia posted by Ayse, I think, that may be of help if you're concerned in rehabilitation for people with dementia - if you follow the address for L clare thereon provided by Mr Bottomley, and if you have a degree in neurophsychology!, you may find something of interest (although in the hands of a politician it may lead them to think AD is curable - Mr Ladyman!). It's a research paper re mental stimulation of the AD sufferer and tries to demonstrate, depending on the stage, that it can in certain cases be a worthwhile alternative to drugs. I can't buy it myself but there again, Mum, is well past the stage. But anything that researches the subject has eventually to be of benefit to somebody, somewhere in the future. I live in hopes!

    Love
    Chesca
     
  17. snuffyuk

    snuffyuk Registered User

    Jul 8, 2004
    188
    Near Bristol
    I am fuffled befulded mind in a muddle my fuddled mind is totally befuddled.
    Sorry about spelling.
    Nite all
    snuffyuk
     
  18. Jude

    Jude Registered User

    Dear All,

    The main problem that I have found it that I need a constant supply of activities on hand, since my parents attention span is so short. They are bored after 5 minutes. The only activity that my father will stick to for any length of time is reading the newspaper. He tends to view 'games' as childish and won't participate.

    Jude
     
  19. snuffyuk

    snuffyuk Registered User

    Jul 8, 2004
    188
    Near Bristol
    Jude, would a crossword br too much for your dad?

    I know, silly idea!
     
  20. Sheila

    Sheila Registered User

    Oct 23, 2003
    2,259
    West Sussex
    Snuffy, that is not a silly idea at all. We used to do crosswords etc with Mum long after she could no longer follow it on paper by asking her how to spell things and the names of people etc. She was pretty good right to the end with lots of things that she had learnt way back, if you know what I mean. Jude's Dad sounds very similar so perhaps he could do it that way too. Love She. XX
     

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