Book review by Lauretta Kaldor – 5 May 2016

ACTIVITIES TO DO WITH YOUR PARENT WHO HAS ALZHEIMER’S DEMENTIA
AUTHOR JUDITH A LEVY

There are many families where dementia affects the parents and the children need to take control. Judith Levy writes this book from the perspective not only as the child but also her perspective as an experienced Occupational therapist who has worked in geriatric care for more than 40 years. As I read through this book I realized I tried many of the activities she suggested in residential and day care. I had also done many of the activities with my own children. However unless I had to deal with a family member all the ideas suggested would be new. The family carers often need the most help on presenting activities that are achievable and enjoyable to the older person with dementia. That older person needs more that physical comfort and help with ADL’s. Judith explains what activities she has done in a readable way and encourages the user to assess each activity using an assessment template. She explains how she sets up the workspace and where she sits with her mother.

At first read you might think these activities are childish. However I have tried many and while the activities are often similar to what children might do at school or play it is how they are presented that is the key. If the client is content then the activity cannot be considered demeaning. My favourite new activity she suggested is making patterns with real objects. I also like the concept of making pieces out of popup beads. I like the way she suggests how to adapt the activity as her parent’s condition declines. They no longer cook together but discuss the ingredients. When the parent has forgotten how to start a drawing she starts it off and so forth.

This book is invaluable for those clients that are caring for a family member. Their frustrations are many and people involved in dementia support need to pass on resources and ideas. There are many of the 50+ ideas that can be used by all staff in aged care especially those who do individual activities.

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