Preserve Family Memories of Senior with Alzheimer’s to Stay Engaged

alzheimersIf maintaining independence is a goal of your loved one who has Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia, strive to keep them engaged with their family, Minnesota community and their surroundings. A senior’s home in Minneapolis or surrounding suburbs might just be the best place to accomplish this.

Dr. Jane F. Potter, chief of the Division of Geriatrics and Gerontology at the University of Nebraska Medical Center says, “At home, they will be engaged in self-care, they will be more active and do more for themselves.” As an expert panelist who helped develop content for the Home Instead Senior Care® network’s free Alzheimer’s Disease or Other Dementias CARE Training Program, Potter advises, “The course of losses accelerates if you put seniors with dementia in restrictive environments where people do more things for them.” Potter developed this program with Dr. Amy D’Aprix. View the recent Facebook photo of Dr. D’Aprix with Home Instead Minneapolis’ own John Stuck!

Home Instead Senior Care Minneapolis is here to help you with that goal. Following are important tips on how family caregivers can continue to engage seniors with Alzheimer’s in everyday activities:

• Exercise can help keep seniors active longer. Talk to their home care provider about simple exercises they can do, take them for a walk or even just encourage movement.

• Simplify the task. Allow the senior to dress themself as much as possible. Make it easier by laying out clothing in sequential order, with the underwear and socks on top.

• Allow seniors to do as much as they can, but step in when you see that they’re not physically able so they don’t get frustrated. Give clear instructions, one step at a time.

• Make activities easier or change the activity. If your Mom with Alzheimer’s used to love to bridge but can’t remember how, play war or another card game instead.

• Remember, it’s more than just about the task. Turn a bath into an opportunity to smell different soaps or, when picking out clothing, discuss fashion or special colors.

• Start an activity and then ask the senior to help. If your mom has forgotten how to make that favorite family recipe, begin the process and have her help with whatever she can.

alzheimers memoryOne way to preserve the memories of those families dealing with Alzheimer’s is by creating a scrapbook. Brian Olmstead, President of Archiver’s says, “A scrapbook is a great way to preserve your family’s special stories and memories, and can be as simple as gathering your photos, putting them into an album, and writing down the important details. At Archiver’s, we’re passionate about memories and are here to make it easy to preserve and share yours.” Archiver’s has seven Twin Cities locations including one near our Home Instead Senior Care office in Maple Grove. Organize a family scrapping session in their free workrooms. Feel free to utilize their classes, in-store copier for making copies of delicate heritage photos, helpful store associates, and archival-quality products.

To accommodate your family member’s cognitive ability level and make sharing memories in a positive, meaningful experience, keep the following considerations in mind:
1. Spread photographs out on the table in their home and casually discuss them. Try to select ones that spark your loved one’s interest or memory.
2. Ask personal questions about their family and Minneapolis area upbringing but don’t interrogate.
3. Involve other family members so the senior with Alzheimer’s isn’t on the spot.
4. Focus on general memories and emotions instead exact facts and details. Incorporate their favorite color or mementos from of Lake Minnetonka.
5. Share your memories as well, especially the more recent ones which a senior with Alzheimer’s will be less likely to remember.
6. Work on the project is short increments and record the discussion.

The activities should focus on what that senior can and wants to remember. You can help to minimize frustration by paying attention to your loved one’s limitations and adapting opportunities for reminiscing accordingly. The goal is to give your family member with Alzheimer’s the opportunity to share cherished memories and preserve them for generations to come. For more information, go to

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