Senior Care in San Francisco: How to Help Make Dementia Patients Happy


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If you have an aging loved one with dementia, then you know they need special support. Often, the resources and information available for this challenge focuses on obtaining the right medical attention, and dealing with the behavioral issues that dementia can bring. But is there a way to actually make dementia patients happier? With memory loss, agitation, and increased confusion, happiness can often seem like an unattainable goal. However, sometimes the right senior care in San Francisco can make a big difference.

Simple pleasures

The person providing your loved one’s senior care in San Francisco doesn’t have to look for complicated ways to make them happy. In fact, sometimes the simplest solution is best. Most people want to feel helpful or needed, and this includes those with dementia. Giving them tasks that seem purposeful is a great way to accomplish this. Some options include providing them with coins to sort, laundry to fold, playing cards to sort or arrange, or a baby doll to dress, “feed,” or play with.

The art of happiness

Art and craft projects are another way to make your loved one happy while bringing out their creative side. Again, keeping things simple is probably best, depending on their physical and mental limitations. Try quick projects involving pipe cleaners or felt. Crayons and coloring books are a terrific way to brighten a dementia patient’s day. It doesn’t matter if they color outside the lines or use the “right” colors. Remember — this activity is to help them feel happy, not to create a work of art for museum display!

Animal behavior

Dementia patients seem to connect positively with pets and other animals long after they lose their ability to effectively communicate with people. Animals offer humans unconditional love and support — no matter their age, appearance, or condition. If you think your loved one would enjoy it, consider getting them a cat, dog, bird, or other friendly creature — as long as they are not expected to be responsible for taking care of it. If you or anyone you know has an appropriate pet companion, you can also have these animals visit them. Going to dog runs, animal shelters, and watching birds at the feeder are other good choices.

Music to their ears

Shakespeare once said “If music be the food of love, play on!” And there may be no better way to show your aging loved one how much you care than by indulging their love of music. This can be especially beneficial to dementia patients who are at an advanced stage of the illness, or who have trouble communicating. However, musical activities can be enjoyed by almost anyone. You or your caregiver can sing with your loved one, attend a free concert or choir practice, or listen to songs from decades ago.

Picture perfect

Going over snapshots together is a wonderful way to make your loved one happy by bringing up pleasant reminders of the past. There is even evidence that looking at old photos can help trigger dementia patients’ memories. If you can’t find pictures from your loved one’s personal history, try pictures from someone else’s! There are many flea markets, antique shops, fairs, and garage sales that sell black-and-white photos for cheap. All you may need are a few smiling faces and styles from your loved one’s heyday to send them on a terrific trip back in time.

Focus on day-to-day senior care in San Francisco

Like any other chronic, degenerative illness, there will be good days and bad days for those who have dementia. Sometimes, all you can do is make them happy for brief periods inside their own world. It will probably not be the type of happiness they enjoyed before they had dementia. It may not even be the way you are used to seeing them be happy. But at least for a time, you’ll have made their day more sunny than cloudy, and often, that alone is enough.
If you are unsure of how to best help an aging loved one, the trained and compassionate staff at the Institute on Aging is here to help you make that decision and gain the best in at-home care for older adults. Contact us to find out more.

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