What happens when the patient is physically frail, and yet, emotionally and mentally alert? This scenario plays out every day and still caregivers are looking for ways to help this person move through each day with purpose. Purpose is one of the hallmarks for which each of us looks to explain our existence and personality. Each of us wants to contribute to society and at the very least not to be robbed of our independence. As caregivers, we search for ways to keep the person intellectually engaged, therefore keeping depression at bay, while boosting moral and self-worth. www.ucsur.pitt.edu/files/schulz/J_Aging_Health_Kim_08.pdf
Most often we hear how to keep a person with dementia engaged. Rarely do we hear of steps necessary to keep a frail person, yet cognitively alert, engaged and making progress. Probably this comes with the thought process ‘if one can decide what they want to do, they can accomplish this on their own’, which can be the undoing of some of our elderly. First it is important to realize, when a person is cognitively alert, they are far more likely to keep the caregiver engaged in providing activities for them. And so while this may appear easier on the outside looking in, the truth is this caregiving is just as difficult as when care for a person with dementia. www.ucsur.pitt.edu/files/schulz/J_Aging_Health_Kim_08.pdf
Caregivers need to take care of themselves just as much while caring for a person who is cognitively alert as any other patient. And a twist to taking care of yourself as a caregiver in this situation is to give permission for your thoughts to drift away from caring and into the world of whimsy, while taking a break. Perhaps looking at the sky or the clouds and attempting to see objects, animals or designs in those clouds or maybe some painting of pictures; the important thing is to allow your mind to take a vacation just as your body is doing.
Activities should be thought of prior to arriving at the need for engagement of the patient. Have family members take on this part of caregiving. Be sure to look at all types of activities, not only the sedentary one but also the building and sculpting of our mind. If the person use to be a writer and has always doodled, give them paper and pencil to continue, have word puzels and tactile mazes for the person to work. Provide recipes for the person to convert measurements back and forth to achieve the best quality in the recipe. Ask for help with amount of time it would take to accomplish a cleaning task, such as cleaning out the storage area. Ask for help sorting the nails and/or screws from various areas of the garage. Find meaningful active for this person to do, this may mean allowing them to sit in a wheel chair and paint the lower half of the fence. We must give back the meaning in their life.