Did you know that more than 5 million Americans are affected with dementia? Dementia can range widely in severity, from a mild decrease in memory and cognitive function, to the complete inability to communicate verbally. Even when dementia is severe, there are ways you can increase communication with your loved one and help improve their quality of life. Take a look at these three suggestions for activities that can help spark your loved one’s communication skills:
Reminiscence Groups: Talking about past experiences is a rewarding experience for elderly individuals in general, but sharing past experiences with others who also struggle with dementia can be especially rewarding. In addition, the give and take conversational flow of a group setting can help take off pressure of being the sole story-teller and help people to open up. Work with other caregivers to organize a small group of four to six individuals that can meet once a week.
Memory Books: When reminiscing with your loved one one-on-one, it’s often helpful to record their past experiences in a small journal or photo album. Write down short but poignant memories and experiences, accompanied by related pictures whenever possible. You can also include pages with names and pictures of important friends and family members.
Sensory Boxes: The five senses can be extremely effective in helping increase awareness and recall the past. Fill a small box with items that connect to a theme and address as many of the five senses as possible. For example, a beach themed box may include a CD of ambient beach sounds, a small bag of sand and seashells to touch, and a piece of salt-water taffy to taste and smell. Choose themes that are likely to provoke strong, pleasant memories, like important holidays or special places.
For information on our New York based Speech-Language Pathology services, please call Speech Associates of New York today at (212) 308-7725 or visit our website at http://www.speechassociatesofny.com and find out how our team of professionally trained and certified speech-language pathologists can help!
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