How Activities Benefit Individuals with Dementia

bingoOne of the things I appreciate about my mom’s new community is the depth of knowledge the surrounding staff and volunteers bring to help deal with a wide variety of individuals with varied dementias. I also know we are lucky to be able to afford to have mom in a community where she gets to socialize and her days are filled with activities.

When I visited the community during Bingo, the woman leading the activity exudes positivity and joy. She also shares many funny stories about herself and manages to recognize the residents during her “bingo calls.” The amount of confusion by the players at our table is noticeable, but it’s managed so well that many of them made it to “BINGO.”

I was most intrigued by two women at my table. The first was the woman sitting next to my mom. She either can’t process the letter and number combination or hear, so after EVERY call she asks the caller to repeat the letter and number. The caller repeated it patiently at her request but by the time she turns to look at her board, she has forgotten the number. When it’s repeated to her, she immediately refuses the information. When she got close to having Bingo, she would clear her board and then comment that the game is “boring.”

The second woman who most interested me was my mom. She could easily follow along and in-between putting down her chips tried to help the first woman I mentioned. Halfway through, my mom suggests that we just need to let her be and have fun however she wants to play this game.

When we leave, my mom tells the PDA pushing her wheelchair to “get Kay up here.” It’s the first time in several months that she has used my name. It’s easy for me to see that my mom is adapting to the community and now she is benefiting from the ongoing activities.

I marvel at the constant change in my mom and it’s not always bad. She has no short-term memory and can’t even recall most details about her past. She still knows she had 4 children and our names, that she was married to my dad and that he has left this planet. Maybe that is all that is important now. Soothed. 

Finding ways to work through the stress of caregiving

tennisI wanted to improve my tennis game so my husband and I joined the local gym that offered tennis. It took me a while to get into lessons, flights and play with others who would help me be able to improve my game.

Several women welcomed me and invited me to join their weekly groups and even join into their lessons. Tennis has been an incredible way for me to find new friends as well as work off the stress of caring for my parents.

Most of my tennis friends know what I’m dealing with. My parents have come to watch matches. When my father died, I actually volunteered to step in and play if someone needed a sub as soon as the day after his death. I find the rules that require you to turn off your phone and dedicate uninterrupted time therapeutic. I can shut off my brain to life outside of the court lines.

A friend shared an article that was recently posted in The New York Times called “Walking the Talk” and I love the idea. After the winter we have faced, the story is compelling and makes me wonder if there are local groups like this to help move through the stress of caregiving.

What are you doing to work through the stress of your caregiving experience? Asked.