Dismiss me not – embracing meaningful activities

Dismiss me not – embracing meaningful activities

Two things, it is said, are constant and unyielding in an unpredictable world: death and taxes. To this short list, I would add washing clothes, ironing, and making supper.

You may be snickering about the addition of “ironing” in a world inundated with synthetics and permanent press. However, as mom’s dementia advanced, this became the predictable response every time I asked about her day’s activities. It wasn’t that she was spinning a tale to allay my concerns, but rather she believed these long abandoned tasks had been completed.

In my travels, other families of individuals living with dementia shared similar reports of apathy, loss of former interests and a sedentary lifestyle. When these concerns arose, my first plan of action was to suggest a medical evaluation to eliminate and manage any potential physical, emotional, or cognitive changes.

The reality was that mom had lost her ability to initiate an activity. The once familiar appliances and household routines were no longer available to her because she could not recall how to do them. She was more lost than apathetic: the desire was there, but the wherewithal was lacking.

Meaningful activities are a wonderful addition to enhance quality of life when someone has experienced memory changes. Think about former roles, occupations, and other related interests to create modified tasks that foster self-esteem, success, and purpose. Consider safety, ease, and enjoyment, keeping in mind that facilitation may be essential.

• Provide a basket of unfolded laundry and ask for assistance. Using the words, “Will you help…?” provides choice and does not infer inability, instead of “Can you help…?”
• If an activity is forgotten, model the task slowly, with repetition, and keep directions simple.
• Think about familiar tasks, like attaching buttons, mending seams etc.
• Complete simple meal preparation.
• Modify leisure activities: a portable putting green for a golfer?
• Work as a team by delegating manageable tasks.
• Would an adult day program provide additional activities and a social outlet?

There are days I think about technology advancements, and wonder if there is acknowledgment of the past and how previous generations did things. Individuals living with dementia have and will continue to make valuable contributions to our world…

Dismiss me not
Dismiss me not,
For I have been
in places, you have never seen.

I recognize the behemoth technology advances,
Their virtues you extol.
I recall the first television, an invention of equal grandeur,
Delivered, and plugged in by one person.

Dismiss me not,
For I have been
In places, you have never seen.

Social media and various modalities provide you limitless networking,
To share minutia details of intimacy.
My true measure of a relationship’s testimony,
Is whether we can be together in the same room; quietly.

Dismiss me not,
For I have been
In places, you have never seen.

Financial portfolios; stocks with short and long term yield,
Manipulation, insider trading, and price fixing.
In spite of my naivety, I recognize the merit of a real dollar,
Because one day’s hard work yielded equal value.

Dismiss me not,
For I have been
In places, you have never seen.

Net worth may be analyzed, subject to markets,
But Human worth cannot be measured by the value of currency.
Analyze priorities based on true values,
And with certainty, if luck prevails, you will also grow old.

If you missed last week’s post from Ann, you can read it here.

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Ann Chartier has been a practicing Registered Nurse, for almost 4 decades. As the founder of Elderpilot.com she advocates for people living with dementia and assists Seniors navigating LTC and Retirement Homes.

Ann was a Family Support Counselor and Education Lead/Writer with the Alzheimer Society Niagara Region. (2012-2015) She continues to be a guest speaker, Alzheimer Society Volunteer and shares her stories from the eyes of a care advocate for her mom.
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