Finding Fun in Accessible Activities
The times I spent with my Poppop doing things, like building new woodworking creations, reading new books, debating politics - were all activities that I enjoyed doing with him. When I would visit, it was easy to spend time and pick up on a project or conversation that we had set aside.
When my Poppop developed Alzheimer's disease, his interest in activities and capacity to do activities changed, as many of you will know firsthand.
It also took more time and intention to do the activities. For example, pre-Alzheimer's my Poppop taught me how to play BlackJack using pennies from his tootsie roll piggie bank. As Alzheimer's started to take hold of Poppop more, this became a bit more difficult.
Here are some of the activities that my Pop and I would enjoy as he battled with Alzheimer's.
Accessible activity for Alzheimers? Puzzles!
We were always putting together a puzzle in the early stages of Poppop's Alzheimer's.
For me and my sister in our pre-teen and early teenage years, this worked out really well. The great thing about puzzles is that they come in varying degrees of difficulty, so they can be adjusted for the overall enjoyment of all parties participating in the puzzle.
To this day, our creations don the walls of some of my family member's houses, as Pop would glue them together. He enjoyed woodworking in his early life, so at the beginning of Alzheimer's he would frame things himself. As he got later in the disease, we outsourced that task to a commercial entity.
Gardening and fun in the sun with Alzheimer's
My Poppop was always known for his gardening. His manicured exteriors were the talk of the neighborhood. As children, if we were playing in and around the flowers, we knew that a painful punishment awaited anyone who may stomp, crush, or even graze a flower!
This was something that was easily adjusted as his level of ability changed. I remember specifically him coming over to help my mom plant her vegetable garden and the meditative state that he got into raking the tilled area into submission.
Plus being out in the sunshine and keeping him active certainly brought around joyful moments for everyone.
Nature documentaries for life
Pop was always a fan of nonfiction. Earlier in his life, one couldn't sneeze or cough during the 6 o'clock news without a stern talking to. After the news, National Geographic, Animal Planet, and the like were usually on.
To this day, I find comfort in these programs. But this was also an easy activity to continue together. As time went on, he appreciated the saturated colors and approached these with the joy of a small child, which made the experiences so worthwhile.
Pivot for fun accessible activities
As the capabilities of those who have Alzheimer's change, see if some adjustments can be made to continue the fun. When in doubt, there might be an adjacent activity that still works for your loved one.
For example, when gardening gets to be too much, perhaps sitting in a garden and enjoying the scenery or taking a walk within nature will bring joy and fun to your days.
I hope this plants a seed that will flower into a beautiful new idea for you and your loved ones.
What kind of accessible activities have you adapted for your loved one with Alzheimer's? Tell us about your experience in the comments below, or share your story with the community.
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