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It is difficult to understand why suddenly, today, our loved one seems unable to do an activity they could do yesterday. Dementia is complex and doesn’t develop in a straight line. Each stage may overlap and vary from one person to another. It’s important to keep in mind that a person might not be able to do an activity one day, and the following day recover their capacities. We need to slowly reintegrate the activity to allow the person to keep their autonomy as much as possible. There will be moments where it will be difficult for them to find the meaning of words, pick up objects and make connections. But remember that it’s important to keep our loved ones in positive situations, to offer failure-free experiences so that they keep enjoying their residual capacities.

When suggesting an activity to you loved one, remember that sometimes, it might be difficult for them to understand your words or their meaning if they don’t have a context. For example, if you ask them to classify pictures of past trips after dinner, they might not understand what you mean. On the other hand, if you take the pictures and arrange them on the table, it will be much easier for your loved one to understand and be interested. And if they don’t react, you can look at a picture, comment it and place it in the category “vacation by the ocean.” Then, you can take another picture and ask your loved one to place it in the right category. Maybe they simply enjoy looking and listening to you, even if they might seem passive. If your loved one doesn’t disengage, it’s a step in the right direction.

In summary, the first step would be to verbally invite our loved one to do an activity. Then, we can initiate the movement because the person will often “click” by imitating someone else. Finally, we can encourage them physically by helping them take the object to its destination, for example. In most cases, the person will be interested and understand the activity during one of the steps. It’s important to remember to take your time, and above all, let them take theirs. The fun is in the activity itself rather than the result, but it is mostly in the time spent together.