As the title suggests, I am looking for suggestions to improve my Mum’s quality of life.
I am a 60M living 280 miles away from my Mum. My brother and his wife are 5 mins away from her and are doing a very good job of taking care of her immediate needs. However she is 95, only able to get about with a 3-wheel walker, and her main problem with her condition is boredom.
She has her own flat in sheltered accommodation, with careers visiting several days a week. Unfortunately the place has had to go into lockdown again, so she can’t go and meet her friends in the restaurant for lunch any more, and she only started doing that again a few weeks ago.
She hasn’t got the energy or strength for her old hobbies, such as sewing and knitting. She does sit and watch the TV, but the lack of movement isn’t doing her much good, nor is the lack of stimulation. As far as her condition is concerned - vascular dementia - she has no problems recognizing people or even knowing what she wants to say. But she does struggle finding the words now, and has to be given plenty of time to try and find them.
She is not very computer literate and struggles to remember sequences of key presses. So far my brother has equipped her with an Alexa screen so friends and family can drop in for a video call. Though she gets weary after a while she does enjoy the personal contact.
I have been looking azar into using Alexa to read books to her, which is good because the reading speed can be adjusted. The only difficulty there is if she falls asleep while Alexa continues reading and she loses her echatspin place.
Basically what I am asking for are suggestions of what she can still do to keep herself occupied. Any good ideas out there?
(excuse me calling you T for short but your username is pretty tricky to spell!)
My Mum uses a rollator too but can also do short distances with a walking stick and uses a trolley inside. She isn’t at all techie either. She enjoys phone calls though - does your Mum get phone calls off her friends that she usually lunches with?
My Mum also enjoys feeding and watching the birds. This is also a reason to be active and the bird feeder needs topping up etc
Does she listen to the radio and music?
Podcasts might be better than talking books as they are shorter so she is more likely to be able to hear the whole thing before nodding off.
I know a mother whose son with special needs had to self isolate because of Covid so she sent him daily parcels - this gave him something to look forward too. Sometimes it was a simple gift, other times a treat to eat.
Try to understand how they feel. Put yourself in your parent’s shoes. It is very difficult to accept aging in general, but especially the fact that mental capacities are diminishing.
Ask questions. You may be trying to provide help for your loved one with dementia directly or provide extra support to ease the burden on the spouse who is caring for him or her.
Be patient. If you are talking to a loved one in the early stages of dementia, he or she is not going to be able to focus on the conversation for a long period of time.
Give choices. Giving your loved one options will help him or her to feel that they are part of the process and have some control over the decisions that are being made. You wouldn’t want someone to force you to accept strangers in your house and neither does your loved one.
Take it slow. It is very important to retain your parent’s dignity throughout this process. Introduce the caregiver so they can have coffee together or take a walk. Ask the caregiver to accompany you and a parent to a doctor’s appointment. Have the caregiver take your parent grocery shopping so that you can remain at work.
Elderly people tend to be retired (or at least have no job) so focusing on work isn’t something they can do. Many young people like being “alone” but interact with people online, even if is something small like Hearthstone. Many (if not most) elderly people never fully figured computers out and only check email and play solitaire, if that. Then there are many people who enjoy being alone and working on physical hobbies like woodworking, but elderly people often aren’t able to do those kinds of things very well anymore. There’s also plenty who had a spouse who has passed away. Their normal lives and routines have been stript away from them which makes them feel lonely much more easily. Hopefully self driving cars helps with this for the future elderly.
Try and contact the Alzheimer’s society and find out about a scheme called
singing for the brain[> /quote].
It should be restarting now.
It gets people out of the house and to a central point, where they sing together with others who have dementia and their carers.
She will enjoy the experience with music she can relate to and will want to go again.
Ideal if she is still mobile as you says she is!
Perhaps try to find out about chair based exercise classes instead. You could even explore other possible creative arty options like card making and beadwork. I recently also found out about free family game and weekly movie nights that are held solely at home with nice tasty hot popcorn, the full works.
Or you can even get creative here and invent activities to do at home or in the community that are free. For example t shirt making, scrapbooking and so on. My grandmother is the same as your mother now (she used to be a professional cleaner until late 2005). Since then she has retired after so many years of working in people’s houses. She worked for more than forty years. Good luck.