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  Old  October 4th, 2003, 6:21pm     #1
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Entertainment ideas for bedridden, elderly woman
My grandmother is recovering from pneumonia and has had several strokes over the past few months, and my parents have taken her into their home to live, since she needs 24-hour care, and she wasn't getting good care at the nursing home where she had been living. She is bedridden (she was basically bedridden before, so she hasn't lost any mobility); her eyesight is too poor to be able to read or watch tv, and since the strokes, she has lost recent and short-term memory.

She's very unhappy and lonely and BORED. She can't do any of the things she used to enjoy. She can't read, and because of the memory problems, she can't follow the thread of a book someone reads TO her. SHe is so weak and has such poor control of her hands, that she can't do any kinds of "crafts." She's stuck in bed in a very small room, with nothing to do all day, and she's getting very depressed. She's alert enough to be aware of her memory losses, and it bothers her tremendously.

Does anyone have any ideas of things to do to entertain her that might give her some pleasure? Anything that elderly people in your families enjoy? We're desperate, and have run out of ideas.

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  Old  October 4th, 2003, 6:36pm     #2
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keep the room bright
dullness can cause depression
old time music can fill the day nicely
i am caretaker for 2 elderly and th ey live in my home
i contacted the country office on aging to get some services in my home
it has been a tremendous help
i hope this helps a bit
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  Old  October 4th, 2003, 6:37pm     #3
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why not books on tape if she enjoyed reading it might be a nice alternative
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  Old  October 4th, 2003, 6:43pm     #4
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The only thing that comes to mind right off is music, especially from her favorite era. Since her memory doesn't allow for books on tape, perhaps you could find some short stories. Chicken Soup for the Soul, A Cup of Comfort, or Max Lacado's books have complete stories that are only a few pages long. I would also visit my local craft store and ask the salespeople if there might be something. It may be a long shot, but well worth it if you found something. Good luck! I'll respond again if I think of anything else. (I taught special ed. before children).

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  Old  October 4th, 2003, 6:45pm     #5
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Music can be wonderful. Tapes of old favorites and especially hymns can be great for people with memory problems. Alzheimer's patients can react to music and even sing along to the amazement of their families. It's like the part of the brain that retains music sticks around for a long time. Poetry on tape can be fun, and even if she isn't following the plot she can enjoy the cadence and rhythm. Photo albums from her past will provide hours of enjoyment, especially if there is someone to look through them with her. Therapy pets are great, too, if your area has any. You can call your local hospital to see if there are any therapy pets who can visit. Does she sit in a wheelchair so she can look outside or go outside? Brief visits from young children can bring back pleasant memories, and children can enjoy looking at photos, souvenirs, old costume jewelry, hats, etc. with her. And the human touch is one of the best things. Sitting with her and stroking her hand, combing her hair, or giving a gentle massage can do a world of good. It's hard, I know, but good luck to you and your family.
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  Old  October 4th, 2003, 6:46pm     #6
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Even if, as you said, she has trouble following books read to her...I'd still recommend books on tape: for one thing, with a simple cassette player, she can use the rewind button to back up a section and listen again; for another, you can choose titles that aren't difficult to follow. The professional readers really add to the story.

Would also recommend, bed ridden status notwithstanding, getting the heck out of bed. Does she have a wheel chair...would a short trip out of doors be enjoyable?

But the main thing: company! Simple questions like "how did you meet Grandpa," or "tell me about when you were a schoolgirl" can be a pleasant distraction for her. You (and she) might surprise herself by how much she really *does* remember!
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  Old  October 4th, 2003, 7:01pm     #7
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And while you're asking her about her childhood, etc., have a tape in that cassette player to record her voice telling about things long past. Priceless to the family to be able to hear her voice later on.

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  Old  October 4th, 2003, 7:09pm     #8
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I know you stated that your Grandmother has short term memory loss but what about tapes from the old radio shows. My father has emphysema and is almost always in a wheel chair. He is in the house Monday through Friday but on the weekends turns into a weekend warrior. My brother is there to take him out to restaurants and do errands. What about going to a garden if you have a wheel chair. Or what about a nice drive out in the country. I live in the midwest and soon the leaves will burst into brilliant colors. I don't know where you live...You had mentioned that her eye sight is poor but it may be a nice diversion.

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  Old  October 4th, 2003, 7:15pm     #9
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Maybe you could make a video of some familiar places, people, pets etc. of her life....a video scrapbook for her to enjoy! locally our humane society brings small pets to the elderly to pet, petting an animal can be very soothing, perhaps you could bring a small cat or dog to visit. Also perhaps a girl scout troop, or youth group at a church could adopt her and maybe come to visit once in awhile.
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  Old  October 4th, 2003, 7:16pm     #10
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I have a sound machine that plays soothing stuff like the sound of rain, the ocean surf, the sounds of crickets and frogs, etc..etc..that may help her relax.

Also, do you have a slide machine? When my Grandmother was in bad shape, my father set up our old slide projector and showed her slides of all the family pictures we had. I realize that no one does slides anymore, but do you have films or VCR tapes of family stuff? She may enjoy that kind of stuff.

Another idea, pets can be very calming. Is there a cuddly kitten or rabbit around that she can hold? (with help)

And I is good. Personally, I think anything by Enya would be great.

My thoughts are with you, your family and your Grandmother.

May The Forest Be With You
Buy Land. They've Stopped Making It. ~~ Mark Twain
If people concentrated on the really important stuff in life, there'd be a shortage of
fishing rods.
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  Old  October 4th, 2003, 8:31pm     #11
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Bless her heart. This might be a silly idea, but since she has difficulty following the thread of a book perhaps you could find some joke books at the library and read those to her. I know the jokes are often pretty corny but some are worth a giggle or two. She will be in my prayers.
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  Old  October 4th, 2003, 11:38pm     #12
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Thank you all for your wonderful and thoughtful ideas. She does have someone sitting with her all day for company and reassurance, although she drifts in and out of alertness and doesn't always realize who we are -- which is disconcerting. I sat talking with her last Saturday evening for several hours, and when my mom came home, she asked us how much my mom had paid the "sitter". My mom asked "What sitter?" and she said 'the one who was staying here with me tonight," i.e. me. I was like "um, yes, um we paid her ten dollars", and she said that that was too much!

What's distressing is that these changes have been so sudden. Until two months ago she was sharp as a tack. The short stories and "Chicken Soup" type books are a great idea, and I'm going to pick up some of them. The radio shows are also a great idea, and I can't believe I didn't think of that before because I am an old time radio freak and have literally thousands and thousands of hours of old radio shows on CD. Hospice sent out an art therapist, who tried to find some kind of activity she could do in bed, but she is so weak and her vision is so poor that she wasn't able to do anything; she wouldn't be able to see slides or videos, unfortunately. We did try the idea of recording her memories of the past, which was something the hospice therapist suggested, but it seemed to make her agitated because she was constantly struggling to remember things and was unable to, and she is too weak to be able to sit up or be in a wheelchair.

As far as the calming power of animals, I have to laugh, because my parents already had three cats and a dog, plus they have taken in my grandmother's cat, PLUS my recently-widowed aunt has moved up here and is living with my parents to help care for my grandmother and SHE had two cats, so there are now six cats and a dog roaming around the house. Animals truly are comforting, though -- I've noticed that when she is getting really upset and agitated and seeing things, if you put her cat on the bed with her, it immediately snaps her back to reality and calms her down.

Thanks again for all your suggestions -- you've given me some really good ideas. Y'all are the best!

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  Old  October 4th, 2003, 11:55pm     #13
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I don't have anything to add except God bless. This must be rough on you and your grandmother, but you are a trooper indeed. I hope that I have someone like you searching for the answers to difficult problems when I am older.

Much love,

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  Old  October 5th, 2003, 12:02am     #14
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I also feel the sorry to hear about this...I'm sure it's heartbreaking.

You mentioned her room is small...what color are the walls?

It might help if you could paint them yellow! maybe a pale yellow...
yellow is a good color for someone who tends to get depressed. Also, at Walmart I found the most adorable poster of a bunch of puppies.... I bought it when my uncle was in the hospital with a kidney consumed by cancer... it really cheered him up, that along with pictures of family...he is now doing great...

hope the best for your family...
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  Old  October 5th, 2003, 12:08am     #15
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Make her comfortable.
All the suggestions are great. One of my suggestions would be windchimes. Yes, with a fan pointed at them. (on low) My mom loved them. Crystal (prisms) in the window to give her rainbows. For her comfort, as she is bedridden, I would greatly suggest an air mattress. I pray for her and your family.

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