Tools to preserve quality of life and to spark memories
Continuing my series on Tips and Tools for Lewy Body Dementia in the later stages, we will talk today about maybe the most important and meaningful aspect. When a person is declining with any type of dementia, the familiar becomes more important than anything else.
✨Just an aside: sparking happy memories is a blessing to your loved one who is losing their ability to remember. But I can promise you that bringing up good memories of days gone by will also help you while you go through the difficult journey of a loved one with dementia. Every happy moment, whether past or present, will be a sparkle on the sea of troubled times that will come and go on this Lewy Body pathway. ✨
Signs and Stages of Lewy Body Dementia
As a refresher, the following images detail some of the symptoms of generalized dementia, and also the nuances of Lewy Body Dementia with it’s stages.
Lewy Body Dementia Association
I find that the Lewy Body Association has an abundance of free information and resources for families and caregivers, so I encourage you to learn as much as you can. Access the blog here. I learn every day.
If you pay attention to the end stages of most dementias, you will see that physical and mental abilities are very compromised at this time. Your loved one may not seem to remember things he’s always known, and this can be confusing and distressing. At other times, he may seem to be very sharp mentally, and you almost forget he has dementia at all.
Routine and Familiarity
Providing routine and a familiar activities, foods, and surroundings can bring a comfort and a sense of peace. Now is not the time for a bunch of new things, but time to bring out the old favorites.
During the earlier and middle stages, it’s fun to try to keep the memories and work to help your loved one to make strong connections through games, puzzles, and challenges. Also, during the earlier stages, the focus is on not losing memory.
End Stages of Dementia
At the end, we want to provide a calm, reassuring environment. Familiar equals comforting.
The earlier posts in this series addressed Tips and Tools for Lewy Body Dementia, Later Stages, Part One: Equipment
Now, a few ways to bring comfort through preserving and sparking memories include things you probably already have around your home.
Familiar music with nice speaker.
If you can find old favorites or family/friends singing, or from the good old days, that really helps bring out good memories.
My dad likes Jim Reeves (or maybe I do), bluegrass, and familiar hymn music. He likes to sing along to old favorites. Now, not so much, though, as he’s losing his awareness of what’s going on around him. In a recent blog post I listed a few that we’ve found help Dad. Music on the Mind
For bedtime, some of my favorite playlists are from Tim Janis. You can find beautiful nature videos paired with peaceful music, and set a timer to have soft music playing to calm restless minds and to aid sleep.
Andy Griffith and Leave It To Beaver were favorites of my dad, and the games like a local quiz show, Wheel of Fortune, and Jeopardy! Familiar preachers sometimes are good, but as dementia progresses, it’s hard to make serious connections, so preaching becomes tiring.
Familiar reading of passages–Bible is the most calming and reassuring.
Readings from the Psalms is especially calming, and hearing your own voice is more personal than something recorded. There are times when a recorded book or Bible passage is nice, although this seems more useful in the middle stages of dementia. You can try a soothing Bible recording, or peaceful book. Sometimes, though, an audio book can become monotonous if the brain is tired.
My dad actually enjoyed listening to Your Story Hour episodes up until very recently. You can listen for free here or download whole albums from Audible. I think we have a good share of the collection!
I like to use these oils for a foot massage or to diffuse.
Essential oil diffuser at the bedside.
You can also diffuse oils like OnGuard or a respiratory aid when your iced one may be sick.
Candles in the room.
Candles make it cozy, but they can also bring back memories of special times spent together with loved ones.
Now is the time to use that favorite cologne or aftershave! Every day! Make your loved one smell like a million bucks! It will be a boost to you and to him to have him smell like he’s all spiffed up!
The more people and the more frequently the better! Record those songs and play them back later! We found that Dad enjoys people coming to sing, and also when different people visit. He talks differently to different people, and has perked up when my brother has called a couple of times.
We always say, “I’ll get around to visiting that person”, but time speeds by quickly, and sometimes those moments pass us by for good.
Favorite foods and recipes
Go ahead and make yummy cookies, smoothies, and Grandma’s traditional soup! Make that Sabbath lasagna recipe during the week. Recipes from childhood and memorable times may spark a remembrance of something nice.
Don’t worry about new fancy games. Pull out the Sorry! Play simple games that don’t require a lot of strategy. Even last week my dad asked for Sorry! out of the blue. We set it up in his room and played his pieces. We had fun. And he won!
Jokes and laughs
If she can join in, tell her jokes! Tell funny stories, because soon you will not be able to communicate effectively with your loved one. Read funny books, and keep it simple! I remember I got my dad a couple of Calvin and Hobbes books and we read them together. Now we can’t do this, and I miss those moments!
Think comfort. Old favorite sweaters may be like an old friend. Don’t be afraid to clothe him in slightly worn clothes if they feel good to him.
Tools to Preserve and Spark Memories in your Lewy Body Dementia Loved One.
These are just a few things to get your brain going! Make those last days/weeks/months count with your loved one.
You will be blessed with warm memories of the times you invested making the life of your Lewy Dementia Loved one meaningful. And that’s something no one can take away!