A diagnosis of Dementia or Alzheimer’s can turn our world upside down. Suddenly our once competent and independent loved one is having difficulty recalling some of the most important aspects of their lives.
As caregivers, our relationship with them will undoubtedly change. As we try to navigate our new roles, it is easy to trade away much-needed quality time spent together for doctors’ appointments and necessary errands. Losing this valued time with our parent or loved one is a more overwhelming and worrying experience than is often acknowledged.
The sudden change in our routines and the new focus on our loved ones’ medical care after diagnosis may seem like the new normal, but it doesn’t have to be.
Proper diagnosis and therapy are important, but humans, and relationships, require much more. A constant focus on this one aspect of our lives is just as stressful for our loved ones as it is for caregivers. No matter what their diagnosis or condition, they still deserve to be treated and valued as a whole person.
Caregiving may now be our primary role, but we are still their child, spouse, or close friend, and we deserve the opportunity to preserve those relationships.
A bit of pampering, and quality time together, can recharge the soul and add a little bounce to all of our steps. So even if we are busy providing care, why not set aside some relaxation time for you and your loved one?
Four Relaxation techniques for Older Adults Living with Dementia or Alzheimer’s
Dim the Lights
Our loved ones living with dementia or Alzheimer’s are extremely sensitive to their environment and can become quite anxious if things are too noisy or if the room is too brightly lit.
Dimming the lights is a simple trick used in virtually every setting and has an amazing ability to calm the atmosphere of a place. Our bodies will physically respond to dim lights, and almost instinctively we become more relaxed and even a little sleepy.
Music is a critical piece to your relaxation day and will set the mood for the occasion. For a relaxation session, try soft classical music, lullabies or non-rhythmic instrumental background music. The soothing sounds will simply make all of those daily worries drift away.
Music is an excellent therapeutic intervention for our loved ones and will almost always calm them if they become anxious or lift their spirits if their feeling blue. For more tips on how to use music as a form of therapy visit The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America.
Whether you choose to burn candles or purchase an aromatherapy machine, this technique can be extremely useful. Lavender is the most calming of scents and can be used in combination with the relaxation music, creating a truly tranquil space for you and your loved one.
Aromatherapy is also a valuable tool to use to stimulate the appetite. The smell of cinnamon baked apples can be comforting, warm, and homey. As an appetite boost, try putting it on about a half hour before a meal. And remember, if it smells like a warm, sweet dessert you should also serve a delicious desert!
** It is important to note: Certain smells may be bothersome, so choosing scents you know your loved one likes will make this activity the most efficient.
Is your loved one always saying that their hands are cold? As we age, our skin becomes thin, which can cause our loved one’s hands to feel cold and achy all day long. Gentle hand massages can offer temporary relief from such soreness.
First, grab some lotion-try a dab of lotion, some people just don’t like the feel of it! Then start by gently rubbing the inner palm of their hands in a circular motion upwards towards the heart. After, gently move towards the fingers paying close attention to their knuckles. If they can’t verbally tell you that they are enjoying it, a good indicator is if they start to massage your hand back.
For more tips check out Good Relaxation.