You’ve probably already resigned yourself to the fact that there is not yet a cure for Alzheimer’s disease. It can be devastating going through the process of slowly losing the spouse who was once your soul-mate and gaining this child-like replica of your beloved spouse. It’s a separation and a loss that’s hard for anyone to imagine unless they’ve gone through it themselves.
Each time you visit your spouse he may seem different. Even from one day to the next, you don’t know what to expect. Will he forget something today that he knew yesterday? It isn’t easy to keep hanging on to the person you once knew because his mind is changing due to the progression of the disease. The person you love is still there, but he can’t access his thoughts, his memories.
Some people find it helpful during this difficult time to cherish the memories of yesterday and try to embrace the moments of happiness you can capture today. Sometimes this is accomplished by playing little games with your spouse that make them laugh and in return bring you joy.
Does he love stuffed animals? Is there an animal from his past memories – especially very early memories which tend to remain intact longer – that he especially loved? Find that animal in a stuffie and see how he falls in love with it!
What about a favorite book, story or event? Find it in a book or even a picture book and read it out loud to him as he looks at the pictures. Did he love to brush your hair? Perhaps he would find joy in brushing your hair again.
Play a game of dominos. It is a very visual game and he should be able to match the dot patterns. It will also give him some visual and tactile stimulation as he plays.
String cheerios on yarn or string and then hang them outside for the birds. Watch together as the birds come and enjoy the different species that come by to nibble on the treat.
Plant a seed and then watch it grow. Check on it every time you come to visit. Choose something that’s quick to sprout, like a bean.
Find a puzzle he would enjoy and help each other put it together. Depending on his capabilities, don’t get one that’s too many pieces and he will just get frustrated about. Start out small with real simple puzzles, even the wooden ones with little pegs on them to lift the pieces in and out of the correct shape on the puzzle tray.
Treasure the memories of the past. Embrace the joy you find today.
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