Severe degradation of short-term memory means that my father, an Alzheimer's elder, is seldom interested in movies or books. And, although music used to be a source of enjoyment, he no longer listens with pleasure. Left to his own devices, he sits. . .and sits. . .and sits unless he's sleeping. What to do?
We've found that visually stimulating events often perk our Alzheimer's elder right up. So we've added weekly, sometimes daily, trips, preferably four hours or less in duration, to his routine. These appear to add to his enjoyment of life and stimulate him to the extent that sometimes he'll add spontaneous comments to a conversation, a rare event nowadays.
Here are some of the outings that have added a little oomph to his life (and provided a short break from the daily grind of caregiving):
IMAX presentations offer stunning cinematography that grabs and holds attention. The presentations are usually fairly short, about an hour in length, without a complicated story line. He enjoys the 3D effects and has remembered these films for several hours after the fact.
RIDE THE RAILS
A ride on the Dallas Area Rapid Transit rail takes less than three hours when you board at one end of the line and ride round-trip. In between, there are interesting stopovers, such as the West End, where people congregate for restaurants and entertainment. We think he enjoys watching the people as much as the museums and restaurants.
VISIT THE FARMER'S MARKET
Talk about visual stimulation! You couldn't find a place with more going on or more interesting things to see. He loves the market, and, as a bonus, we're able to find really fresh fruits and vegetables and flowers for the garden.
From time to time, community theaters produce old favorites that he still remembers. And the Grandbury Opera produces farces that we can all enjoy together. Trips to small towns like Grandbury that have preserved their history can supply openings to reminisce.
SHOP IN THE GROCERY STORE
If you'd never visited a supermarket, imagine how exciting your first trip would be! It's probably quite similar for our Alzheimer's elder and never fails to amuse him.
VISIT A SHOPPING MALL
Bookstores no longer hold much interest for my father, but walking the mall provides lots of opportunity for people-watching. He doesn't care much for exercise these days, so a trip to the mall provides a built-in excuse for walking.
These particular jaunts might not work for your Alzheimer's elder, but they should fire up your imagination.
About The Author
Phyllis Staff, Ph.D. - Phyllis Staff is an experimental psychologist and the CEO of The Best Is Yet.Net, an internet company that helps seniors and caregivers find trustworthy residential care. She is the author of How to Find Great Senior Housing: A Roadmap for Elders and Those Who Love Them. She is also the daughter of a victim of Alzheimer's disease. Visit the author's web site at http://www.thebestisyet.net