Just because your loved one is challenged by dementia, it does not mean that the two of you cannot have meaningful moments. However, remember these guidelines to keep things simple and reduce a lot of noise and confusion for her when you want to share a moment. Here are some ideas for helping you to connect:
1. Surprisingly, a cookbook or some recipes may start the person talking about a favorite recipe or holiday.
2. A piece of antique furniture, knick-knacks, old records, needlepoint projects, an article of clothing, even a dish towel, can work as catalysts for conversation.
3. Visit your storage area. If you're not having luck with the items that are in plain view, don't be shy about taking a trip to the wherever you store mementos to dig out old photos, cards and letters, maybe a wedding dress. Personal props such as these can trigger a flood of memories and conversations.
4. Use scents. Without fail, certain smells bring back memories almost instantaneously. That may be because the sense of smell is the most primitive of our senses, and the last to fail. Even older adults suffering from advanced stages of Alzheimer’s usually respond to smells, albeit not verbally. For instance, their eyes may brighten or a smile may appear when they get a whiff of cinnamon, roses, fresh baked goods, peppermint, or coffee.
5. Create reminiscing cards. Browse magazines, newspapers, or the Internet to find images of items that you know will prompt a conversation, such as scenes from the Depression Era, amusement parks from a parent's childhood, places they visited on vacation. Paste the pictures onto pieces of cardboard and build a catalog of visual aids. The cards can be used by family members or healthcare workers who look after your parent.
6. Lastly, don’t be hesitant to just sit and hold a loved one’s hand. That simple touch can be meaningful for her as well as for you. There is great comfort often in the soft and gentle touch of a hand. I hope this gives you some idea of what you can do to connect. Take care……Regina