Periodic Contributor

What can I take when I visit my friend with dementia to peak her interest? She's retreating into he

I have a number of older friends who are declining mentally - some with diagnosis of dementia or Alzheimer's - but 3 of them seem less and less interested in "the world around them" and I feel there HAS TO BE SOMETHING I could take with me when I visit - some kind of activity or enrichment - that would bring them "out" a bit or just some fleeting moments of remembrance or cheer.   It's getting increasingly hard to visit when all I'm able to elicit from them is momentarily awareness; out of a 2-hour visit, maybe one half smile.  I'm not expecting much but I would like someone with experience to give me some coaching OR tell me where I can go to find help.   This is becoming torturous.....for me and, it seems, for them.


I visit a friend and tell her in great detail about a fun movie, like Swiss Family Robinson, and am very animated when doing so. I ask things like, do you know what happened then? Or guess what happened next? which she thinks is so funny. In other words, like talking to a child and my goal is to keep her engaged and make her laugh. Enter into their world, don't expect them to come into yours. I play beauty parlor and fixed her hair, making the aid and daughter my "receptionist and assistant" and fuss over her, put makeup on her, dress her up, and have fun. We may spend quite a while looking at her scarf collection, dresses, etc. We look at restaurant menu's and discuss every appetizer, salad, entree, etc. She used to cook, so I discuss recipes, and again, in great detail. It makes the time go fast, puts a smile on her face and I feel helpful. 


Her favorite music. Music seems to be something studies have shown isn't forgotten and can still bring comfort to a person suffering Alzheimer's or dementia.

Social Butterfly

My friend plays CDs with music of her Mother's younger years. She told me it's remarkable to see her perk up and at times she moves a bit and tries to mouth the lyrics. Bless these poor souls and bless you for your helping them.
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Periodic Contributor

I can so relate to what you are going through and you are an angel for going to visit with them.  So many people just ignore these souls because they are no longer the person that they used to be.


When I was going through it with my Mom, I used to take her outside for walks, even when she was confined to a wheel chair.  I would talk to her about the flowers, trees and grass.  Sometimes I would bring one of the dogs up and she loved cuddling with them.


My brother used to bring his 3 year old grandson to visit.  He and my Mom would talk for hours.  None of the rest of us had any idea what they were saying but they would laugh and babble away with each other.


My husband is also in a nursing home with dementia, following brain surgery. I started by bringing a simple familiar game, dominoes. At first he struggled a bit, then he caught on, knew when it was his turn to play etc. I also purchased adult coloring books because he wanted to do art work, plus colored pencils, and fine tip markers. He began to do these daily after lunch for a while. Amazingly because he was thinking about the color to choose, what space to color in, making small decisions, his alertness improved amazingly. Have seen many love to hold a stuffed animal, especially if they were cat or dog lovers earlier in life. They talk to them, rock them, tend to them like a child. A friend brought her sister a box with a attached lid, so it couldn't get lost. She loves putting items inside, opening and closing the lid many times. Many women enjoy folding simple things--washclothes or towels repetatively.
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Honored Social Butterfly

@ritaclarke - It's wonderful that you're visiting these friends, and want to keep them engaged! Sometimes their long-term memory is in better shape than short-term, so if you have any old photo albums with both of you, or the friend & their other friends, they might love to look thru the album with you. If you can add a little "color commentary" about the situations when some of the photos were taken, that's even better. Along those lines, if you know that friend from school & still have an album with student & faculty photos, that might be good for a discussion about all those old friends.


Anything you can bring that reminds the person about experiences you've had together, would probably be fun for a couple of hours.


Depending on the person & their condition, 2 hours might actually be a tad long for a visit .. if they can't stay focused that long & it becomes draining for them.

Registered on Online Community since 2007!
Honored Social Butterfly

@ritaclarke.........I have seen some aprons that have buttons, button holes, small zippers, felt pieces that open and close that work well with these patients. You can even make these from a regular apron. The idea is that these patients like to keep their hands busy and some of these activities work. For females, I have seen dolls work well. They enjoy holding the baby dolls. Anything that will keep their attention and they can easily open/close, etc.

Your are a jewel for thinking of these friends and wanting to take something to them.

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