By middle stage, my mom always had an activity book in hand. She could do “seek and find puzzles” and filled them fairly quickly. Of course as time passed, each book took longer to complete as her brain power for the game dwindled.
Yet, she would sit for hours, and work studiously circling words in her seek and find book. If they are actively involved in folding clothes, or working in a garden, or stringing beads, anything that keeps them busy and occupied, they are less likely to become depressed and angry.
Things to remember when choosing activities for those with memory issues:
Shortly before Mom became enamored with “seek and find books,” I remembered that she had had a love of painting when she was younger. Since the holidays were near, I purchased several “Create Your Own Christmas Ornament kits.” I thought Mom would enjoy the artistic aspect of this project. I spread newspaper on the table and opened the kits and explained the process to Mom. Paint each ornament any color you like from the myriad of colors provided in the kit. She sat at the table all day long, rolled each small bottle of paint between her fingers, but never picked up a brush.
All day I encouraged her to give it a try. She sat and played with the bottles but never opened a single color. That evening I finally asked her, “Mom, aren’t you going to paint? It looks like fun. So many pretty colors. Let’s paint…” I encouraged her, pretending to join-in as I opened a bottle of bright red paint.
I was totally surprised when Mom took the brush, the bottle I had opened, and painted an entire Christmas ornament red. I sat down beside her hoping for a dialogue about painting. I was curious, thinking she may have been afraid to open the bottle for fear of it exploding and spraying paint all over the kitchen. Sometimes you just don’t know what they are thinking and they aren’t able to explain, themselves. But Mom eventually told me why she had hesitated for so long to begin her painting project. “There were too many colors,” she said. “I didn’t know which color to use until you gave me one color because there were too many choices.” I was stunned. To her way of thinking, if there were too many choices, she wouldn’t make a choice at all. An interesting tidbit of information for me, though.
Strangely, this brought back memories of a day that I thought Mom might like to string beads. My mom always wore jewelry and loved long necklaces. So after a quick trip to “Micheal’s”, I gave her an extravagant beaders kit. Even after much encouragement from me, she never added a bead to a single string. Now, I thought back on that incident and all those colorful beads, beads of every color! And I knew the answer, Mom hadn’t known which colored bead to add to her long string for threading. There were too many beads.
Quite often, I assumed that I knew what Mom was thinking or feeling or why she behaved in a certain way, and I must admit–I was often wrong. I finally learned to–
- Keep things simple – They don’t need the biggest kit, or most beads, or the largest variety of paint
- 1 Shoe-string and 20 brown beads would have been an ideal gift for my mom and would have been used right away
- Small plaster animals and 2 bottles of water color paint can be purchased at Walmart for a few cents
- A Soft, Baby doll that looks real
- Adult Coloring releases stress, Caregivers like coloring too — Share a book with your loved one and Relax!
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