Part of being human is connecting with other people, friends and family. Fortunately, dementia does not take that away from us. Finding activities that continue to build and strengthen bonds between you and your loved one can feel impossible when they suffer from dementia. Here are a few ideas that can help create connections with your loved one.
8 different ways to reach someone with dementia
For those with dementia, memories from their childhood tend to stay intact and often reflect on these memories. Sometimes it can seem that their minds only recall times from their childhood and youth. These memories can be used to build new connections or to strengthen old ones.
Try some of these ideas next time you’re visiting with your loved one:
Find a bag and fill it different things that are nostalgic of their past, particularly items from their teenage years and their twenties. Smells are very powerful and can draw on specific memories. Consider adding perfume, aftershave or soaps.
Flipping through old photos
Looking through old photos with your loved one can be rewarding and can help draw memories for you to connect on. Try to find albums that have pictures from their childhood and youth years. Old newspaper and magazine clippings might be a nice addition, ones with lots of pictures
Look for songs that were popular in their teens and make a play list. When you visit with them you can listen to music of their past. Downloading songs is an option, or setting up an online radio station that caters to music of their era is another option. Listening to music could create a dialogue with your parent, you might learn a song that was their favorite that you have not added to the playlist.
Singing Old Songs Together
Those who spent a lot of time at church as a child might enjoy singing old hymns. During the holidays, sing carols and other classic holiday tunes.
Movies and Television
Did your loved one watch westerns like Roy Rogers as a kid? Or maybe they enjoyed comedies such as I Love Lucy. Perhaps musicals where more their speed. Spend a night watching some favorites like “Singing in the Rain” or “West Side Story.” With new ways to watch television and movies, finding these oldies is much easier.
Browse Old Cookbooks
Browsing through old cookbooks can be especially reminiscent for women. Many young girls spent a lot of time in the kitchen learning to cook. A lot of women continued to cook as they got older for themselves and their families. Having conversations about family receipts and cooking with them is a nice way to spend time together.
Share Some Treats
Enjoy delicious treats together. There are companies that specifically make candies that are nostalgic. Try finding them online or in local stores near you. Other types of food and treats can spark a memory. Maybe a peach can bring memories of summer months when they were young.
Encourage Old Skills
Perhaps your parent used to knit or crochet? Bring a quilt or homemade scarf to your loved one. Let them feel the fabric and the texture of the yarn. Their hands might remember more than you think, despite having dementia.
Our loved ones will change as dementia progresses. They may seem like a different person but they still desire compassion and a connection with family and friends. Your encouragement can develop relationships, strengthen bonds and bring joy to both you and your loved one.