Spring has shown its colors! As the flowers start to bloom and the trees fill in with green again, it’s nice to feel a sense of hope for the coming seasons. Sometimes it can be hard to find hope, especially for those with a diagnosis of Dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. These memory-stealing diseases can leave more heartbreak than they heal, if you let them. The best way to combat these illnesses, and the devastating effects of them, is to spend time together, creating memories for those who will be continuing on. If you have been diagnosed recently, this could be the best time to spend with your loved ones, while you have plenty of energy and concentration.
The most important thing about staying strong with these diseases is to spend time together, even if you’re just visiting in the care facility. There are plenty of activities you can engage in together – whether you are the patient or the caregiver. Plan these activities in advance, though none require much set up or clean up, so that you can make the most of the time together. From arts and crafts to games with children or grandchildren, these moments of springtime are precious. Spend them with those you love, and remember that while the disease may progress, the person you are, or the person you once knew, is still inside.
Studies are currently being conducted to see what engagement does for the brain activity of those suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s, but the correlation so far has been positive. Learning new activities, engaging in creative or athletic activities, and creating a completed product all lend themselves to better episodic memory and overall happiness than those who do not engage in activities. There is no clear correlation between being more active and retaining memory or keeping more memories for longer, but it can still lead to a happier overall life outlook.
Here are a few ideas for activities that can help keep the springtime fresh and engaging!
Check Out Your Local Park
There are many parks here in Lafayette, where Landmark Memory Care is located. At Landmark, we have a garden on the grounds for our residents to walk through which is tended all year round. There are many great outdoor choices in Lafayette, and many more in the communities beyond. Local parks are a great resource for daily or weekly trips to see what is blooming, as well as to meet and greet friends and neighbors. If the local park is too much stimulation, try bringing home some seasonal flowers from a local florist. This gives you the opportunity to freshen up a room with a simple change of the flowers! As always, be cautious with flowers around patients who may confuse them for food.
Another great activity is to plant things together. Springtime is a great time to plant and nurture flowers, herbs, and other greenery. Check with your local garden shop for suggestions. Make sure to get things that you can take care of together, which helps you find new things to do throughout the year. Remember that container plants, such as herbs or small flowers, can be nurtured indoors near a light source such as a window.
Spring Clean Your Space
It can be very upsetting when you clear out old things, or bring in new items, for patients who are easily confused. For patients who don’t respond well to changes, it is still helpful to clean up their most commonly used areas. After all, spring is the time to get out the winter’s dust bunnies and air out the linens! For patients who can participate in the cleaning, let them do the small tasks, such as picking up items on a shelf to dust. As a caregiver, take the opportunity to ask them about items, such as old pictures or memorabilia, so long as doing so doesn’t upset the patient.
While they work on the small items, you can work on cleaning out closets and drawers, dusting and airing as needed. These are places caregivers are more likely to go, and they need to be clean and easy to access. In the kitchen and dining areas, make sure to keep cleaning and organizing to suit both your needs as a caregiver, and the demands of the patient. Keep sharp objects and other hazards out of reach, and always lock the door to the garage or other area where poisons are kept. Poison can be many things, including gardening and pest control liquids, paints, and other household cleaners.
Create Some Art
At Landmark Memory Care, we like to pursue creative outlets where we can! Our residents love to create art, most especially seasonal art. For the springtime, you can paint flowers or outdoor scenes with watercolors (and you can always label them “abstract”). Tempera paint is a water-based paint that is non-toxic and can be used to create vivid works of art. Try taking sponges cut like tulips or daisies and mixing up the colors. Each work of art will be unique and bring out the creative side of everyone involved!
For easy cleanup, consider butcher’s paper (available at the craft store by the roll) or another type of tablecloth that you can toss (either in the wash or the trash). You can use plain sponges cut into shapes, or you can buy more intricate supplies for the artwork, depending on the level of engagement the patient is capable of. Watercolor, tempera, and even washable markers all make for easy cleanup. For extra inspiration, you can follow the directions here for a potato stamp!
Spend Time Together
The best springtime activity is to support one another! Take the time to say and show you care by bringing flowers or taking a walk, by creating art or listening to stories. Engagement is not just a one way street- it takes two people together to help keep the effects of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia from completely erasing all vestiges of your former self. Keep true to you, or to your patient, and allow yourself moments alone. After that moment, go see if you can help out, or just make someone’s day a little brighter. Springtime is about rebirth and renewal, so endeavor to bring a new, positive spirit to your season.
For those who are looking at the future care of their loved one, ask us today about what Landmark Memory Care can do for you. From daytime activities and respite care to full time facility living, there’s nothing we can’t help you to figure out about facility life! Check out our Cost comparison sheet, and our Activities of Daily Living sheet to see if facility care is right for your loved one.