• All threads and posts regarding Coronavirus COVID-19 can now be found in our new area specifically for Coronavirus COVID-19 discussion.

    You can directly access this area >here<.

My Mum gets very bored when there is no "entertainment" being arranged

Cucu Mzungu

Registered User
Nov 11, 2011
63
London
My Mum has mild-ish Vascular Dementia. Her short term memory is very unreliable but her thinking ability is pretty good. She also has a degree of heart failure so tires quickly. My sister and I take turns being with her. We do make sure that we go somewhere with her virtually every day (for an hour or two -usually longer) which she enjoys and there are also a number of visitors.

But when there is nothing much happening she often gets upset because she doesn't know what to do with herself. She has been a very active person.

She does like some TV programmes and will spend some time reading the Guardian.
But doesn't really bother with books.

She will help for a while with cooking - but it is not always easy to find things for her to do - she is happy to peel potatoes etc.

She is reluctant to phone friends as runs out of conversation quite quickly.

So I am looking for ideas for things we could do with her...and for things she might do on her own as there are times when my sister or I want our heads to ourselves for a while.
 

Merrymaid

Registered User
Feb 21, 2014
304
Hi Cucu Here are some of the things we have tried with varying successes:
Knitting, crochet, painting, drawing, decoupage, patience, embroidery. All depends on her concentration limiut and interests - good luck :D
 

Katrine

Registered User
Jan 20, 2011
2,839
England
MIL also lost the ability to do some of her former hobbies. She could still knit and crochet but preferred to do this with a companion so that she could be kept on track with pattern. She also enjoyed jigsaws, which is something she could do for 5 minutes, or longer if she felt like it. Working on a jigsaw gave her a great sense of achievement. She also liked pottering in the garden, pulling up a few weeds.

Unfortunately you cannot totally compensate for the inevitable boredom as skills and memories are lost. You are doing a wonderful job with the amount of input you are giving already. I would just sound a note of caution that you cannot become her Master of Ceremonies 24/7. She will complain of boredom and it will make her unhappy.

You will reach the point where you've filled her day with activity but as you turn to leave she'll say "why can't you stay for a while? I never see anybody, you're all too busy to spend time with me, and I haven't seen any of you for weeks". :(

This could make you feel that you have failed, but you haven't. The efforts you make are not wasted, you are improving her quality of life but because her short term memory is damaged she can only enjoy things in the moment. Eventually she won't be able to lay down new memories and get pleasure from recalling them when she is alone.
 

copsham

Registered User
Oct 11, 2012
586
Oxfordshire
Hi Cucu,
I think you are at a difficult stage with your mother, being with it enough to be bored but not with it enough to do things without assistance.

I remember mine expressing her loneliness and boredom and however much she did there were still hours in the day in which to be bored or lonely but gradually she lost her ability to be bored and did not want to do anything. She is now content to sit ... and sit ... and sleep. In her nursing home she is encouraged to join in flower arranging, singing, word games etc but she just tolerates activities when encouraged to join in.

The one thing my mother still likes is going out for a short drive in to the country side. I cannot think of anything your mother could be encouraged to do unless she were interested in day care or a lunch club?
 

Witzend

Registered User
Aug 29, 2007
4,291
SW London
One thing I wish I'd thought of for my mother - far too late now - was sorting coins. OH has a huge jar where he puts 1ps and 2ps, and every now and then I sort them into those little bags for the bank.
It would have been easy for her just to sort them into two smaller jars - and once her memory was very bad I could have asked her to do it over and over to 'help me'. Of course it's all very easy in hindsight and maybe she would have told me she couldn't be bothered (default for most things) but it would not have been too difficult for her and I do wish I"d thought to give it a try.
 

jeany123

Registered User
Mar 24, 2012
19,036
70
Durham
One thing I wish I'd thought of for my mother - far too late now - was sorting coins. OH has a huge jar where he puts 1ps and 2ps, and every now and then I sort them into those little bags for the bank.
It would have been easy for her just to sort them into two smaller jars - and once her memory was very bad I could have asked her to do it over and over to 'help me'. Of course it's all very easy in hindsight and maybe she would have told me she couldn't be bothered (default for most things) but it would not have been too difficult for her and I do wish I"d thought to give it a try.
Witzend I tried this with Allen and he just couldn't cope, I was so surprised, he just couldn't work out how to do it no matter how many times I tried to show him, I also tried him sorting buttons and he couldn't manage to match them in either colours or sizes and the stress was too much for him,
 

Eternity

Registered User
Jul 17, 2013
226
London
Hi Cucu,

I really understand that it is hard to come up with activities to do.

My mum needs someone to sit with her to help her do these activities and we chat while doing them but if your mum can do these things on her own and maybe sees how it helps you out - here are a few ideas.

As Witzend has suggested counting/sorting coins. It works a treat, she can sort the silver from the copper, the different sizes, we put the coins into separate bags. Then I just say how much £ we have and can spend it on treats. The next week (after quietly un-bagging the coins) we get the coin jar out and do it all over again

I've bought balls of different coloured wool, I unravel them, tangle them up a bit and bring them to mum and ask her for help to untangle and roll them into balls again as I am "no good at it". Again we repeat this after a few days.

I'd "find" envelops filled with loose photos and we put them in albums, talking through old memories, who everyone is etc. We used to do this daily. Takes a bit of effort to take out the photos from the albums at night when she was asleep, and at the start it seemed wrong to lie, but she so enjoyed putting photos into the album. Even just going through the photo album now she really enjoys.

Find things to do linked to when she used to work (my mum was in the clothing trade) . So I find pieces of fabric and buttons to sort through, talking about the quality and colours. Got books from library we can flick through on fashion

Folding is a favourite, tea towels she can sort of manage now

We also make cards (birthdays, good luck - they aren't very good) - we sit, talk about what colours we could use, she chooses. We've decorated shoe boxes, sticking stuff on etc...

Helping with dinner as you suggest is good too - peeling and chopping


What I would also suggest is not being afraid to ask visitors to do activities with her. Think it helps both sides avoid awkward silences, both have something to do

Understand it is hard though

(just seen Jeany's post - should have added that it is trial and error with what can work)
 
Last edited:

Witzend

Registered User
Aug 29, 2007
4,291
SW London
Witzend I tried this with Allen and he just couldn't cope, I was so surprised, he just couldn't work out how to do it no matter how many times I tried to show him, I also tried him sorting buttons and he couldn't manage to match them in either colours or sizes and the stress was too much for him,
Oh, well, maybe I needn't have beaten myself up for not thinking of it, then! So sorry Allen couldn't manage it. A lot of us do seem to rack our brains in vain, though I suspect that whatever I'd come up with it would probably have been 5 minutes at best, followed by 'I can't be bothered.'

Though I guess it is a lot easier for carers if they can't be bothered and just want to sit, than it is if they are endlessly restless and bored, but can't manage anything without help.
 

Cucu Mzungu

Registered User
Nov 11, 2011
63
London
Hi Cucu Here are some of the things we have tried with varying successes:
Knitting, crochet, painting, drawing, decoupage, patience, embroidery. All depends on her concentration limiut and interests - good luck :D
Thanks, Merrymaid,
Knitting - she said definitely not - and I think crochet and embroidery are too complicated. I don't think patience would interest her - and don't know how to play it myself...might think about decoupage...making cards....it's something we could do together. Thank You.
 

Cucu Mzungu

Registered User
Nov 11, 2011
63
London
Thank you, Katrine - useful comments that I will bear in mind.


MIL also lost the ability to do some of her former hobbies. She could still knit and crochet but preferred to do this with a companion so that she could be kept on track with pattern. She also enjoyed jigsaws, which is something she could do for 5 minutes, or longer if she felt like it. Working on a jigsaw gave her a great sense of achievement. She also liked pottering in the garden, pulling up a few weeds.

Unfortunately you cannot totally compensate for the inevitable boredom as skills and memories are lost. You are doing a wonderful job with the amount of input you are giving already. I would just sound a note of caution that you cannot become her Master of Ceremonies 24/7. She will complain of boredom and it will make her
unhappy.



You will reach the point where you've filled her day with activity but as you turn to leave she'll say "why can't you stay for a while? I never see anybody, you're all too busy to spend time with me, and I haven't seen any of you for weeks". :(

This could make you feel that you have failed, but you haven't. The efforts you make are not wasted, you are improving her quality of life but because her short term memory is damaged she can only enjoy things in the moment. Eventually she won't be able to lay down new memories and get pleasure from recalling them when she is alone.
 

Cucu Mzungu

Registered User
Nov 11, 2011
63
London
Thank you, Copsham - Yes she does like drives in the country and going to lunch in pubs....One of the problems with day centres etc is that she finds them too noisy - she is very sensitive to noise...and also I don't think she likes the idea of being part of a group of people who need to be looked after.

Hi Cucu,
I think you are at a difficult stage with your mother, being with it enough to be bored but not with it enough to do things without assistance.

I remember mine expressing her loneliness and boredom and however much she did there were still hours in the day in which to be bored or lonely but gradually she lost her ability to be bored and did not want to do anything. She is now content to sit ... and sit ... and sleep. In her nursing home she is encouraged to join in flower arranging, singing, word games etc but she just tolerates activities when encouraged to join in.

The one thing my mother still likes is going out for a short drive in to the country side. I cannot think of anything your mother could be encouraged to do unless she were interested in day care or a lunch club?
 

Cucu Mzungu

Registered User
Nov 11, 2011
63
London
Thank you, Witzend. At present she would know if there was a reason or not for sorting coins....I am sure she would happily do it if there were --I will keep it in mind ...


One thing I wish I'd thought of for my mother - far too late now - was sorting coins. OH has a huge jar where he puts 1ps and 2ps, and every now and then I sort them into those little bags for the bank.
It would have been easy for her just to sort them into two smaller jars - and once her memory was very bad I could have asked her to do it over and over to 'help me'. Of course it's all very easy in hindsight and maybe she would have told me she couldn't be bothered (default for most things) but it would not have been too difficult for her and I do wish I"d thought to give it a try.
 

Cucu Mzungu

Registered User
Nov 11, 2011
63
London
Hello Eternity, thanks for your response. the coins and wool would, at present be too meaningless for her but I think we could adapt your photo idea as we take pictures (or, anyway my sister does) of current activities....thank you.


Hi Cucu,

I really understand that it is hard to come up with activities to do.

My mum needs someone to sit with her to help her do these activities and we chat while doing them but if your mum can do these things on her own and maybe sees how it helps you out - here are a few ideas.

As Witzend has suggested counting/sorting coins. It works a treat, she can sort the silver from the copper, the different sizes, we put the coins into separate bags. Then I just say how much £ we have and can spend it on treats. The next week (after quietly un-bagging the coins) we get the coin jar out and do it all over again

I've bought balls of different coloured wool, I unravel them, tangle them up a bit and bring them to mum and ask her for help to untangle and roll them into balls again as I am "no good at it". Again we repeat this after a few days.

I'd "find" envelops filled with loose photos and we put them in albums, talking through old memories, who everyone is etc. We used to do this daily. Takes a bit of effort to take out the photos from the albums at night when she was asleep, and at the start it seemed wrong to lie, but she so enjoyed putting photos into the album. Even just going through the photo album now she really enjoys.

Find things to do linked to when she used to work (my mum was in the clothing trade) . So I find pieces of fabric and buttons to sort through, talking about the quality and colours. Got books from library we can flick through on fashion

Folding is a favourite, tea towels she can sort of manage now

We also make cards (birthdays, good luck - they aren't very good) - we sit, talk about what colours we could use, she chooses. We've decorated shoe boxes, sticking stuff on etc...

Helping with dinner as you suggest is good too - peeling and chopping


What I would also suggest is not being afraid to ask visitors to do activities with her. Think it helps both sides avoid awkward silences, both have something to do

Understand it is hard though

(just seen Jeany's post - should have added that it is trial and error with what can work)
 

Cucu Mzungu

Registered User
Nov 11, 2011
63
London
Hello again, Merrymaid,

My partner brought into our bedroom a cardboard box saying "we could use this to separate papers for recycling from other rubbish in the bedroom but on the other hand it's not very attractive". "Oh", I said "but perhaps my mother could cover it with pictures for us"... I have asked her and she seems willing so am collecting pictures. Thank you, again for the idea.

Hi Cucu Here are some of the things we have tried with varying successes:
Knitting, crochet, painting, drawing, decoupage, patience, embroidery. All depends on her concentration limiut and interests - good luck :D
 

Tilly Mint

Registered User
Jun 14, 2011
21
I have used these before with my mum who has Vascular Dementia...
http://www.active-minds.co.uk/our-products/?gclid=CKTOto3Ctr4CFfQgtAodWxYAhA

I get catalogues full of things for dementia patients. I also have dvds of scenes, some are for keeping fit to but they serve a great purpose for appearing to be going for a walk. It's just a dvd of moving scenery as if you were walking along a path.

Others are for relaxation. One I have is called Move it or Lose it and is chair based exercises for the elderly as if you are part of the group. There are several elderly people sitting in a semi circle doing the various exercises. I just sat mum in front of this and within a short while she was following their instructions and I hadn't said anything about following them. So it was good to see her getting exercise.

I forgot to mention that I also have cds of pub singalongs and childhood songs that we sing along to. Mum can be a bit down at times but as soon as the childhood songs come on or the pub singalong, she brightens up and is soon singing along.
http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Laughin...im_m_h__6?ie=UTF8&refRID=0V51T7AZRYTZ2AYX9GSQ

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Pub-Singalo...qid=1400452412&sr=1-1&keywords=pub+singalongs

I also bought my mum a fairly life like looking baby doll for her to mother and look after. It was lovely to see the look of recognition mum gave this baby and how she wrapped it up and cuddled it. It really helped calm her and distract her at times.
 
Last edited:

creativesarah

Registered User
Apr 22, 2010
9,530
East Hunsbury Northamptonshire
I was going to suggest getting her to make or at least start a memory book

I have written a document on how to make memory books for people with dementia here is a link to my website http://creativesarah.weebly.com

I have started to write a book on how to do it, like me it's a work in progress!

Would she enjoy using a digital camera? that way she can use the photos as memory prompts I find it really useful as a supplement to my memory loss I have a camera on my mobile too! wish I had got my dad to talk more about the story behind the photos he took great for family tree building your mum may feel really useful if she thinks you are doing family history research. Even if it doesnt benefit you someone in your family at some time will be glad of the information

All the best

Sarah
 

Cucu Mzungu

Registered User
Nov 11, 2011
63
London
Thank you, Tilly. my Mum is too competent at present for the things on offer at "Active Minds" but I will bear it in mind for later, if necessary.

I have used these before with my mum who has Vascular Dementia...
http://www.active-minds.co.uk/our-products/?gclid=CKTOto3Ctr4CFfQgtAodWxYAhA

I get catalogues full of things for dementia patients. I also have dvds of scenes, some are for keeping fit to but they serve a great purpose for appearing to be going for a walk. It's just a dvd of moving scenery as if you were walking along a path.

Others are for relaxation. One I have is called Move it or Lose it and is chair based exercises for the elderly as if you are part of the group. There are several elderly people sitting in a semi circle doing the various exercises. I just sat mum in front of this and within a short while she was following their instructions and I hadn't said anything about following them. So it was good to see her getting exercise.

I forgot to mention that I also have cds of pub singalongs and childhood songs that we sing along to. Mum can be a bit down at times but as soon as the childhood songs come on or the pub singalong, she brightens up and is soon singing along.
http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Laughin...im_m_h__6?ie=UTF8&refRID=0V51T7AZRYTZ2AYX9GSQ

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Pub-Singalo...qid=1400452412&sr=1-1&keywords=pub+singalongs

I also bought my mum a fairly life like looking baby doll for her to mother and look after. It was lovely to see the look of recognition mum gave this baby and how she wrapped it up and cuddled it. It really helped calm her and distract her at times.
 

Cucu Mzungu

Registered User
Nov 11, 2011
63
London
Thank you, Sarah, I will see if I can persuade her to take some photos...

I was going to suggest getting her to make or at least start a memory book

I have written a document on how to make memory books for people with dementia here is a link to my website http://creativesarah.weebly.com

I have started to write a book on how to do it, like me it's a work in progress!

Would she enjoy using a digital camera? that way she can use the photos as memory prompts I find it really useful as a supplement to my memory loss I have a camera on my mobile too! wish I had got my dad to talk more about the story behind the photos he took great for family tree building your mum may feel really useful if she thinks you are doing family history research. Even if it doesnt benefit you someone in your family at some time will be glad of the information

All the best

Sarah