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Activity Ideas for Dementia Shopping in the Early Stages

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Activity ideas for dementia are not just recreational activities. They include doing ADL’s, exercise, socializing and hobbies. Keeping a person in the early stages of dementia motivated and interested in being active can be very difficult to do. The person with dementia, especially in the early stages is still aware that they are not functioning at full capacity. For many this causes depression. One of the telltale signs of dementia is lack of motivation and lack of ability to take initiative. So, it is important to find things that will keep up the spirits of your family member. Being active is a way to slow the cognitive decline   of your family member. So try to make things fun. Everyday tasks, such as shopping can make a difference in the day of your family member.

Especially for the ladies, shopping is one of the more enjoyable ADLs (activities of daily living). Whether “window shopping” on a lazy Sunday afternoon or picking up some much needed groceries, shopping is both a necessity and an opportunity to get out of the house for awhile.

Dementia will eventually interfere with your family member’s  ability to perform their ADLs, including shopping. But in early stage dementia, shopping can usually continue to be a part of your family members routine. Dementia and shopping don’t have to be mutually exclusive, if you keep a few important points in mind:

Activity Ideas for Dementia … Make sure someone goes shopping with your family member.

Activity ideas for dementia The person with dementia  likely to need someone to drive, especially if they  are no longer capable of safely driving alone. Having a family member may also help  decrease anxiety, assure that they get to where they need to go, and then buys what is on the list. Those with dementia often get things they do not need.

More on Activity Ideas for dementia….

If your family member is  still able to go alone, make sure they have a list

One of the first aspects of mental functioning to decline is short term memory. This will affect all ADLs, including shopping. Even most normal-thinking people find it necessary to make and take along a shopping list. How much more so for the person with dementia?

Having shopped with someone in the early and middle stages of dementia, I can tell you it can be extremely  anxiety producing for the person with dementia. They check the list, recheck the list and may even forget that they have already found the product they were looking for and put it in their basket.

It is so difficult for the family caregiver to deal with, as you may have to remind your family member multiple times that they already have the product. If you go into more than one store, this may be confusing as well to your family member with dementia. They may no longer be able to designate the grocery store from the pharmacy.

You may want to assist them, by taking a marker and crossing off the purchased items to reassure them they have completed the task.

Limit the amount of money that your family member has access to

If your family member is having trouble with finances or is forgetful, having unlimited access to bank accounts, cash, or credit cards is not a good idea. They will  need help to make sure that they have only the amount of money they need. This will reduce the risk of buying inappropriate items. See the managing finances area here

More on activity ideas for dementia…Observe for “impulse” shopping

As judgment becomes impaired, spontaneous, or impulse shopping will become much more likely. Your family member will probably want to buy things that seem out of character for them. They may want certain items and yet have no idea why, apart from the fact that it simply appeals to them at the moment.

Your family member may try to get things and not pay for them. Theft is a frequent issue with those who have dementia. Be on the lookout for shoplifting. It will take a little finesse in dealing with this in a public place. If you or your family member  is confronted with a lifted item, explain carefully that she has dementia, a disease that robs people of their ability to think rationally. This should be sufficient. Most people understand that those with dementia are not garden variety common criminals, and your family member should not be treated as such. Careful monitoring should assist you in avoiding  most trouble spots. If you anticipate shoplifting, alerting management in advance. It  can help them handle this in a discrete manner.

Series on Successful Dementia Home Care Tips 

Dementia Challenge:Introducing Change 

Understanding Dementia Behaviors:Tips and Strategies