Family members often find it difficult to find ways to interact with someone with dementia. Here are some ways to have meaningful, quality time with your loved one.

Gather memories in a box and go through the box to discuss them. Events from their younger years, ticket stubs, pictures, invitations that were saved, will enable them to pull from long-term memory and participate better. Wedding pictures of them and their friends, your baby pictures, vacations, etc. will give you a full afternoon of stories! Telling their stories will give them a sense of belonging and you’ll cherish these moments.

Find old magazines from their younger years and discuss topics that were relevant back then! Life Magazine and Time are great for this type of activity and are available at the library.

Music really does tame the savage beast! For times when you need to calm your loved one music is the key. Music from their younger years takes them back to a safe place in their mind. It’s also a great pastime that they will enjoy.

If you’re tired and need something you can occupy your loved one with, sit and watch an old movie or TV show from the 50’s and 60’s. Newer shows tend to move too fast and are overwhelming. The older shows are easier to follow and bring back happy memories.

Enjoy a cooking activity together. You can direct as much or as little as needed. Just make sure they help, whether it’s pouring ingredients you’ve already measured or just stirring, give them a sense of purpose. Make sure it’s something you’ll both enjoy indulging in when it’s done!

Children’s games. It may seem simple to you, but it might be a little challenging for your loved one. Simple games or puzzles can be fun and therapeutic. “Trouble”  or play card games like “Uno”. Pick a puzzle that would not be too easy, but also won’t frustrate. At the end of his journey, my father who had Alzheimer’s enjoyed a puzzle that had 15 pieces. He also enjoyed easier adult coloring pages. As you choose them, just don’t make it too complicated. They may say they don’t want to do it, because it looks daunting. Enlist their help to get them to try it!

Those who suffer from dementia are very different from the person you’ve known your whole life, but they still crave companionship and belonging and more importantly, a sense of purpose. As a Dementia Care Practitioner, I am able to help you with tips like these and many other areas related to caring for someone with dementia. Don’t ever hesitate to reach out!

Patti Naiser

Certified Dementia Care Practitioner, Senior Placement Specialist