Oct 16, 2014

Celebrate Every Day - It's the Little Things That Count

Daily moments of success are different for everyone. One person with dementia may find success when she puts together a puzzle with ease. Another may feel successful if he’s able to dress himself without any help.

By +Rachael Wonderlin 
Alzheimer's Reading Room

“It’s the little things in life.”

Forget

I've heard people say this before, but I don’t think I ever truly understood it until I worked in long-term dementia care.

For people with dementia, it really is about the “little things” that make each day better. When you are memory-impaired, small moments throughout the day are more important than a big event every once in a while.


Subscribe to the Alzheimer's Reading Room
Email:


I work for Brookdale Senior Living, and I can honestly say that I love their memory care slogan:

“Ensuring Daily Moments of Success.” 

I mention this not because I’m trying to advertise for Brookdale, but because I really do think that this slogan is perfect for memory care. Small, daily moments are what memory care is all about.

Daily moments of success are different for everyone. One person with dementia may find success when she puts together a puzzle with ease. Another may feel successful if he’s able to dress himself without any help.

Celebrate these moments with your loved one.

At work, I strive to make sure that each day is positive for my residents.

While we do have parties and outings, I try to make smaller moments positive, too. I work right next door to Brookdale’s Assisted Living community, and we often plan events and gatherings together.

I’ve found, though, that my residents don’t enjoy big outings or big parties nearly as much as the residents in Assisted Living do. First, big events can sometimes be stressful or frustrating for people with dementia. Second, many of them are unable to recall events that just occurred.

I’ve found that doing an art project, helping a resident with a puzzle, taking a group to get ice cream or pet animals at a shelter are all really effective, positive moments. Even if the memory doesn’t stick around, the happiness does.

If an event feels simple or small to you, it is probably the perfect size for someone with dementia.

We do have parties at work, but I still try to make it manageable for my residents. While some residents enjoy helping me plan, set up and organize, others may find happiness watching an entertainer play music or dance.

If your loved one has dementia, you probably know what makes him or her happiest. Focus on those things. 

As the disease progresses, your loved one may struggle with tasks that he or she could previously do with ease. That’s okay. Celebrate with your loved one when she is able to brush her own teeth.

Encourage him while he’s working on that crossword puzzle.

Rachael Wonderlin
Rachael Wonderlin has a Master’s of Science in Gerontology from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She works as a Memory Care Program Coordinator and Manager at Clare Bridge of Burlington in Burlington, NC. Read more of her writings at Dementia By Day.
For programs and craft ideas that provide happy, little moments in life, visit my Pinterest page at www.pinterest.com/rwonderlin11.

More Articles on Alzheimer's and Dementia 

Search more than 4,900 original articles for Answers to Your Questions About Alzheimer's and Dementia

You are reading original content the Alzheimer's Reading Room

More from Rachael ...

How to Become a Dementia Detective


Try to put yourself in his or her shoes: what would you need to feel better?

By Rachael Wonderlin
Alzheimer's Reading Room

Forget Me Not

As corny as it sounds, the best way to help the person you’re caring for is to become a “Dementia Detective.”

Someone with dementia might have trouble explaining why they’re upset, or what you can do to fix the problem.

Problem solving is actually my favorite thing about working with people who have dementia—it gives me a chance to be creative and come up with a solution that will improve a person’s life.

Continue reading