A dementia diagnosis can feel extremely overwhelming. However, it’s possible to make great new memories and have both quality of life and peace of mind after a grandparent has been diagnosed with dementia. With an open mind and a willingness to be patient, there are many ways you can enjoy the time you have with your grandparent in spite of a dementia diagnosis. For three ways to spend quality time with a grandparent who has dementia, read on.
1. Attending Appointments Together
While attending doctor’s appointments might not sound very exciting, there are ways you can make appointments with your grandparent fun. Not only will you be there to get important information like what to expect with dementia symptoms and changes in mood or behavior, but by taking your grandparent to their appointments, you’ll be showing them that they aren’t alone and that you care. After appointments, you can follow up with the Fisher Center for Alzheimer’s Research Foundation to help your grandparent with any questions they may have.
When taking a grandparent to a dementia-related or another medical appointment, do what you can to make the day exciting for them. Maybe this means taking them to a favorite restaurant for lunch. Perhaps it means stopping at a favorite store to show. Or maybe it’s as simple as bringing games you can play together in the waiting room. When setting up appointments, ask your grandparent what else they’d like to do. Having a nail or hair appointment to look forward to after the medical appointment can be a great way to be supportive and show your love.
2. Favorite Activities and Routines
A dementia diagnosis doesn’t mean that your grandparent isn’t the same person. Making an effort to encourage them to stay connected to the activities and hobbies they love is important. Maybe your grandmother loves cooking. You could spend time with her by downloading the perfect recipe sharing app and learning some new recipes together. Or, if your grandfather loves to fish, taking him to a new lake or fishing hole could be a great way to remind him of not only the past but give him hope for the future.
3. Down Time and Traditions
When you have a grandparent with dementia, you already understand the importance of spending time together on the good days. Even on challenging days, it’s a good idea to take things slow and let your grandparent set the pace. When in doubt, turn to traditions and things you know your grandparent will be comfortable with. Old habits will jog memories and help your loved one to feel at home. Something as simple as a favorite movie or creating a weekly pattern will be appreciated by the grandparent you love.
On days when your grandparent has more energy and is lucid, do what you can to work on making new memories you’ll both cherish. Think about taking your grandparent to a new place, completing a bucket list item, or experiencing an old routine in a new way. An example might be bringing your grandmother who loves quilting to a quilting show she’s always talked about going to.
In the end, while your grandparent will have challenging days and won’t always be up for spending time with you, there will be good days, too. In making the most of the good days and focusing on the positives, you can certainly make new memories with the grandparent you love in spite of their diagnosis. Best of luck to you as you do what you can to keep your grandparent close and surround them with love.