Judith A. Levy is an occupational therapist. For more than 40 years she has worked in geriatric care centers, hospitals and home-care programs. She has helped people of all ages get well.
In 2013 she wrote a book, with another audience in mind: children of people with dementia. At the time Judith had been caring for her 97-year-old mother for nine years. Clinical knowledge was one thing. Having the responsibility of another life–that if her parent–was quite another.
“I cannot go home at the end of the day and leave it all behind. Now I am the child, and this is my parent. I’m no longer the professional. I have no choice but to adjust to the changes.”
Judith’s book, ‘Activities to Do With Your Parent Who Has Alzheimer’s Dementia,’ has simple, meaningful activities that will stimulate the long-term memory and bring enjoyment to you and your parent.
Some principles for doing activities with someone with dementia:
1. Morning works best. People with dementia are mentally sharper then. As the day goes on and draws nearer to dusk, “sundowning” occurs, bringing with it increased confusion and agitation.
2. If the activity produces frustration, stop and move onto another one.
3. Do all the tasks at the same place each time. Choose a well lit table; make sure your parent’s chair is comfortable. Spread out any “props” and clear the tabletop of other objects.
The 57 activities are presented in alphabetic order and include:
- The Alphabet–Using colored alphabet letters, sort the letters by color and count each group to see which color has the most letters. Other ideas: “The letter A is yellow; can you find it?” “Tell me a word starting with the letter A.” And of course, sing the Alphabet Song.
- Baking–It’s structured, sequential, time limited and satisfying. Baking can get your parent to talk about favorite foods, childhood holidays and an event in the past at which a special food was served. Depending on your parent’s ability, he or she can help assemble ingredients, stir the batter, and wait for the timer to go off. Baking and decorating cupcakes are especially fun.
- Crossword Puzzles–Books in the grocery store have puzzles that may be doable if you work together. You can give clues that will help him or her succeed.
A great book, with practical activities and conversation starters.