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Bringing Joy to the Life of Loved Ones Living with Alzheimer’s and Dementia

Matthew Ralph-Savage

Living with Alzheimer’s disease can be full of anxiety, confusion, and fear. For those living with degenerative memory conditions, finding support to aid in the emotionally fraught changes is crucial. In many cases, loved ones supporting seniors living with dementia are an essential lifeline and can help stabilize the hard times by providing love and joy.

While mood plays an important role in the everyday impact of our lives, emotional wellbeing in people living with Alzheimer’s is tenfold. Moreover, emotions become the language that many who live with the disease speak: when the specifics of memory fade away, often the most accessible means of communication is through emotion.

That is why it is crucial to provide pivotal joy and love to your friend or family member with dementia or Alzheimer’s: it creates a quality of life and lasting connections that resonate, give joy, and provide a therapeutic sense of wellbeing.

How to Share Joy

There are many ways to give your loved one with dementia the kind of experiences that carries them through their day and leaves a resonating, pervasive happiness that transcends any ups and downs.

A great place to start is to think of an activity that your loved one has had a lasting connection to and to engage with it together:

- Go on an outdoors adventure: If they loved to hike, camp, or travel, one of the best ways to impart a sense of fulfillment and purpose is to get outside, go on a day trip outdoors, and enjoy some fresh air.
- Listen to familiar music: Sound and song accesses a part of our brains that is deep and emotionally charged. Throwing on a beloved record and reminiscing around its tracks is the perfect catalyst for joy.
- Gardening: If they have a green thumb, include your loved one with dementia in spring or summer gardening tasks. Keep it safe—there is no need to involve tools or heavy labor. Harvesting or weeding is enough to get any gardener excited by the familiar scent of dirt and food. A raised garden bed is also a good way to get people with mobility restrictions engaged and involved as well.
- Get busy in the kitchen: getting someone with dementia involved in some very simple, safe kitchen tasks is a great way to keep a fulfilling passion alive. Especially recipes that involve no heat and are very familiar to your loved one.
- Art therapy: There is loads of verified mental health merit in getting lost in a painting or some sculpture. Any art activity that provides access to in-the-moment decision making and is connected to our emotions is perfect for someone living with dementia.

The Common Thread

What serves as the crucial common thread between all of these ideas is that there is a shared experience. For the dementia community, joy isn’t derived easily alone at times. Having a caregiver or loved one to share the experience can help create firmer memories and provide more emotional significance.

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Relish offers activities and ideas to boost wellbeing in those affected with memory loss. An invaluable resource to the dementia and Alzheimer’s community, for over 10 years Relish has designed and developed ways to help family, friends and caregivers make meaningful connections and engage people living with memory loss. Visit relish-life.com to learn more about staying active and bringing joy to life when living with dementia.