Alzheimer Patients experience a wide array of behavioral and mood disorders, due to the increasing damage to the brain, their acceptance of the disease, their physical health and limitations, and their caregiver’s responses and attitudes. Behavioral problems like irritability, agitation, rummaging, and wandering, decline when the Alzheimer’s patient is introduced to regular, enjoyable therapeutic activities.
Many common side effects of Alzheimer’s can be managed or alleviated through tailoring seasonal activities to the needs of the patient. Cultivating activities for the various stages of the disease is done by simply defining the patient’s physical limitations or needs and adapting the activity to the patient’s physical abilities. For ultimate success, introduce active and passive activities to the patient early in the day while the patient is fresh and well rested, making the activity easier to complete.
Transforming activities from passive to active can be effortless by selecting the activity in advance, making notes about the particular activity, highlighting the parts of the activity which can be accomplished by the patient, collecting needed materials, organizing the material, choosing an appropriate workspace and preparing difficult parts of the activity in advance, and leaving less complicated parts to be finished by the patient.
At this time of year there are many fabulous endeavors which can be enjoyed in the outdoors. This natural multisensory environment can be therapeutic to the wellbeing of the patient and the caregiver. Sometimes, family and friends will be willing to undertake the responsibility of these special activities so that the caregiver can experience a period of respite, while the patient will have an opportunity to socialize with others. According to the Fisher Center, such recreational therapies are beneficial for physical, social, psychological and spiritual health of the Alzheimer’s patient.
Looking at the backyard as a suitable working space equipped with elaborate tools made from the elements of nature can open many opportunities for creativity. Observe your work space by looking around at the trees, tree roots, sticks, leaves, flowers, soil, nuts, berries, birdbaths, sidewalks, and all other possibilities, such as planters, feeders, and seasonal gardens. You can have the Alzheimer’s patient collect the leaves or sticks and then sort them, or a more passive activity would be to collect them for the senior and have them sort them, or sort them for the senior holding them to where they can see them.
These leaves can be turned into sun-catchers by folding them into self-adhesive laminating sheets. This activity can be as active or passive as you need to make it. For the most passive activity, collect the leaves, sort them by color, size, and type of tree, lay them out on the table, and place them on the adhesive paper, overlap it with another piece of adhesive paper, creating a sun catcher. You can cut the leaves out and attach string or ribbon through them to create a sun-catcher to hang in the window. This can be made simple, by completing the task of collecting the leaves and or active by having the Alzheimer’s patient collect the leaves and sort them. Look at each step of the activity and decide what steps the individual can successfully complete. Even if they are unable to finish the task by themselves, the caregiver and Alzheimer’s patient together can accomplish more difficult parts of the project.
If you have a table in your garden you can create a place for drinking tea, eating lunch or an extra ordinary work space. You can utilize this surface for creating projects, but be sure to keep scissors, hot glue guns, sticks, glue, and all other sharp or small objects in a safe controlled location. If your Alzheimer’s patient is unable to feed them self, they can still be wheeled to the outside and served lunch in this raw wholesome space. If you do not have a table, a card table will work or a picnic blanket can create an idealistic location for your work area.
Seasonal fruits and nuts, such as apples, melons, and pumpkins can be incorporated in your picnic or tea time. This activity can be made passive by simply prepping the food for eating in advance or active by having the patient peal and help slice the fruit. Allow an opportunity to smell the fruit, feeling its texture as the patient delights in the freshness of the fruit. Sharing these exquisite treats can encourage conversations about past events, holidays, cooking, parties, fairs and more. Plan your conversations in advance by preparing conversational starters and recording these speaking prompts your list.
On your list you can include sharing scented items collected in the yard or purchased in advance like: bark, soil, leaves, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, sandalwood, ginger, fruit, Egyptian musk and other variations. You can ask the patient if they recognize the scent as they smell each one. Candles are a fabulous way to acquire different scents. If the individual is not capable of responding you can hold the scent beneath their nose and talk to them about memories they may have forgotten.
Most people have forgotten what it is like to touch the earth, the scent of soil the texture of flowers. Fall is great times to share these memories, by helping the patient repot mums. This wonderful escapade can include colorful pots, bows and ribbons, and various fall mums. The task can be as simple or as complicated as you want to make it. Repotting these flowers can be a passive activity by placing all the pieces on the table and replanting the flowers while the patient observes. Place the flowers under the patients nose, run the ribbons gently through their hands, place their hands in the soil so that their fingertips can feel the sensation of the cool dirt. The patient may not appear to respond to the planned activity, but continue on as though they are involved, speaking to them and helping them touch the flowers with their hands. The project can be more active by adding as many of the steps as the patient can successfully complete. These flowers can be maintained in the house for aesthetic quality through the autumn season.
Autumn is a fabulous season, a little rain, a little sunshine, the misty mornings, and dew on the grass. Most outdoor activities can be altered into passive or active by simplifying the project and completing difficult steps. Passive or active activities used to enrich the lives of Alzheimer’s patients are important to help control behavioral problems when incorporated in their daily lives. These activities are stimulating and can be altered to fit the needs of the individual.