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Autumn tips for Michigan residents facing dementia

Autumn tips for Michigan residents facing dementia
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August 25, 2020
Email: krcopenhaver@alz.org
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As the seasons continue to change amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Alzheimer’s Association Michigan Chapter is offering autumn tips for Michigan residents facing Alzheimer’s and all other dementia. 

“The shift of the seasons can evoke various emotions, as we bid goodbye to the long, sunny days of summer,” said Sarah Lambaria, Alzheimer’s Association program coordinator. “Just as the passage of time brings changes in the seasons, it also brings changes in the journey of someone living with Alzheimer’s or related dementia. That is why it is so important to find enjoyment in each day, no matter what season we are in. Autumn offers a variety of new opportunities to connect with our loved ones living with memory loss.”

As dementia progresses, individuals may have more difficulty engaging in conversation and may increasingly rely on other means of communication. Some ways to do so are through sight, sound, smell, taste and touch, according to Lambaria. 

“With this in mind, as you think about things to do together this autumn, consider activity ideas that are both seasonally and sensory-specific,” Lambaria said.

Some ideas include: 
  • Smell “autumn" spices such as nutmeg, cinnamon, clove and pumpkin pie spice.
  • Incorporate some of these spices into a homemade dish.
  • Take a nature walk: Incorporate multiple senses at once! Point out leaves or other objects, listen to the leaves crunching underfoot, and notice the scent of the outdoors. 
  • Sit outside to enjoy a morning cup of coffee or afternoon visit. It’s a great way to enjoy the crisp fall air.
  • Take your own “color tour:” Go for a drive and enjoy the changing leaves.
  • Bake an apple pie, pumpkin pie or another favorite fall treat.
  • Enjoy smelling seasonal essential oils.
  • Involve your loved one in seasonal tasks. Is it time to get out the warmer clothes? Perhaps your loved ones can match socks or fold laundry to help.
  • Reminisce about school days, if these are pleasant or fond memories. Look at old photographs or school-related items.
  • Paint a pumpkin; it’s easier than carving!
  • You can also try painting pinecones and leaves. Turn them into decorations or roll them on paper before the paint dries to create an abstract work of art. Doing an online search yields many creative ideas.
  • Enjoy some apple cider or a cider donut.
  • If you enjoy gardening, consider planting some bulbs to enjoy in the spring or working together on fall cleanup. It can be a great way to get moving and enjoy some exercise! 
  • Read a poem aloud. Find fall poems courtesy of PoetryFoundation.org. (Even as language abilities change, the rhythm of poetry, song and prayer can be enjoyed into the late stages of Alzheimer’s.)
  • Even better, work together to write your own fall poem. (For inspiration, read this story about creating poetry with individuals living with memory loss.) 
  • Ask a beautiful question related to some of these activities - “What colors make you happy?” “What are the sounds and smells of home?” (Visit timeslips.org for more information about creative engagement.)
  • Include the individual’s favorite music with many of these activities. 
For more information about upcoming Alzheimer’s Association support groups, education programs and social engagement programs, visit alz.org/gmc or call its 24/7 Helpline at 800-272-3900. For more information about this year’s Walk to End Alzheimer’s, visit alz.org/walk today. 

Alzheimer's Association

The Alzheimer's Association leads the way to end Alzheimer's and all other dementia — by accelerating global research, driving risk reduction and early detection, and maximizing quality care and support. Our vision is a world without Alzheimer's and all other dementia.™ For more information, visit www.alz.org or call the 24/7 Helpline at 800.272.3900.

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