July 8, 2013

Alzheimer's Patients Can Enjoy Life in Every Stage

Early Stage of Alzheimer's

In the early stages of Alzheimer's disease, you can often share in whatever fun activities the person enjoyed before developing Alzheimer's. Some games may need to be adjusted, however, to accommodate your loved one's diminishing mental capacity. For example, you may need to play a simple card game instead of bridge or checkers instead of chess.

Mid-Stage Alzheimer's


In the middle stages, people with Alzheimer's may have more or less the mental and social skills of a young child. While it's fine to look at old pictures or watch movies together, those are somewhat passive. With a little thought, you can find more active ways to spend time together, such as giving the person "props" the two of you play with together. The key words here are "play" and "together."

Latest Stages of Alzheimer's

"Senior Gems," is a system that classifies dementia patients into six categories, each named after a gem. The "Gems" table shows the basic characteristics of people at each level and provides tips for interacting with them. Pearls are at the latest stage of the disease.

According to the Gems table, "Pearls" like pleasant sounds and familiar voices. They also like to feel warm and comfortable. For people in this category it's beneficial to read or talk to them about good memories They might not understand your words, but your voice will be soothing. You might also bring a new extra soft blanket or sweater for them to wrap up in or brush their hair and apply lotion to their skin.

Photos, Stories and Songs: In interacting with people who have Alzheimer's, Tryn Rose Seley, author of 15 Minutes of Fame, reaches them by sharing songs as well as photographs and stories about their lives.

Visitors: Unfortunately, some people stop visiting a loved one who doesn't recognize them anymore. However, a pleasant visit will almost always leave the person in a good mood long after you've left, even if he or she didn't know who you were.

Outings: Outings can be another source of pleasure for people with Alzheimer's. However, Snow cautions, "While some people with dementia enjoy these enormously -- primarily those in the early stages -- those in the late stages may become confused and agitated."

Gifts: Sometimes it's the little things that grab the attention of people with Alzheimer's the most. Snow advises, "Keep gifts immediate and simple. Bring them something to look at, listen to, touch, smell or taste."

Touch: Snow says that you should always get verbal or non-verbal permission before touching a person with dementia. "There are different types of touch," she says. "Light, moving touch is stimulating; deep, slow touch is calming."

Laughter: Alzheimer's disease is a deadly serious topic and deservedly so, but sometimes laughter is the best medicine. This is especially true when the person with Alzheimer's laughs along with you.

Pets and Children: Pets can often reach people with Alzheimer's in ways we cannot. Like pets, people have also found that children, infants and even doll babies can reach dementia patients and give them great pleasure.

Art and Music: Art and music use a different part of the brain from that which is being slowly destroyed. Even those who no longer talk can often remember words and sing songs, especially ones from their young adult years. And these people can often create quite interesting works of art.