A demoralizing effect of Alzheimer’s disease and similar dementias is the gradual loss of ability to engage in enjoyable and meaningful activities. This loss affects the whole family and can lead to depressive symptoms in the care recipient with dementia.
Overtaxed family caregivers know that activity engagement is important, but they often tell me they are exhausted and can’t think of another activity.
To address this concern, Teri and Logsdon (1991) developed the Pleasant Events tool for caregivers with dementia. This tool offers caregivers a variety of pleasant events to engage their family member.
Importantly, Teri and Logsdon advise caregivers to keep it simple.
Reflect on how you feel when someone extends a kind word to you and know that that effect is similar for your family member. For example, a stranger on the tram complimented my dress the other day — it made me feel so good!
When you have a minute, write down a list of activities that you think your care recipient with dementia might enjoy. Keep this list handy for when you both need a boost.
To get you started, Teri and Logsdon have started a list, and caregivers I’ve worked with have added their own ideas. I left a couple of lines for you to write in your ideas. (Let us know what those are in the comments section!)
- Hug each other
- Apply hand lotion
- Go for a walk
- Look at a scrapbook together
- Talk with children/grandchildren on the phone
- Clean out an old toolbox or sewing kit
- Polish shoes
- Pop popcorn
- Sing a familiar song
- Play an instrument
- Apply nail polish
- Pet an animal (or a stuffed animal)
- Fly a kite
- Blow up a balloon
- Wrap a present
- Unwrap a present
Allison Lindauer, Ph.D., N.P. is Assistant professor and director of outreach, recruitment and education for the Layton Aging and Alzheimer’s Disease Center.
This article originally appeared in the The Layton Center’s newsletter, the Alzheimer’s Update, a biannual publication that features stories on Layton Center and national research, experiences of volunteers in some of our studies, and cognitive health. Subscribe here.