The early stages of dementia sometimes go unnoticed, especially if the older adult lives alone. In the cases that we do learn of an early diagnosis, the challenge becomes how to best support the person living with dementia. Typically the diagnosis may be Alzheimer’s disease, but the reality is that there are over 80 types of dementia and other conditions that produce symptoms similar to dementia.
Keeping loved ones stimulated, and providing ability-based support and care cannot be overstated. At NursePartners, we recognize the GEMS™ model as an effective method for providing a treatment plan for individuals living with dementia. Click here for an introductory overview of the classification system and to understand the stages of the journey.
Stage 1 – Mild/Early (lasts 2-4 yrs) – NursePartners refers to these individuals as “Sapphires” and “Diamonds”
In the early stages of dementia, your loved one may withdraw from activities they previously enjoyed. It is important to help them remain engaged and stimulated. Even the most simple, everyday tasks such as setting the table or folding clothes can help a person with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia feel connected to “normal” life. Activities linked to hobbies and interests can maximize choice and help build the relationship between that person and the carepartner.
About Sapphires and Diamonds
Sapphires may feel “blue” due to changes with the aging process, although there may be no significant changes in cognition. Sapphires are committed to lifelong patterns, enjoying the things the way they always have. Sapphires prefer being asked what to do when making decisions. Pamper them – spending a spa day or a trip to the barber/beauty salon can help them feel less blue. Sapphires are not living with dementia.
Diamonds are “clear and sharp,” successful with established habits and routines. Diamonds like to feel competent and valued, and it is important for them to feel comfortable and in control. A diamond can still do things as they always have, but they become more territorial and less aware of boundaries. Diamonds enjoy familiar places, whether that be a family member’s home or a favorite restaurant. Suggested activities include attending concerts or plays and getting fresh air – picnicking or walking outdoors.
Activities for Sapphires and Diamonds
- Thinking: crosswords, jigsaw puzzles, cards, board games, and reading.
- Physical: walking animals, gardening, walking, swimming, and dancing.
- Social: visiting with family or friends, or going to a favorite restaurant.
- Home Activities: folding laundry, feeding pets, cooking and helping in the kitchen.
- Creative: arts and crafts projects, knitting, painting and drawing, playing music or singing.
- Daily living: taking a shower, brushing teeth, eating, and getting dressed.
- Looking through photo albums.
- Creating a scrapbook, pasting photos onto the pages and writing notes about the memory beside the photo.
- Reading saved letters and greeting cards.
- Life Story Game: Ask your loved one to list the steps and necessities associated with an activity. For example: “We are going on a picnic, what would we bring in the picnic basket? Where would we go for the picnic?”
Some suggestions could be:
- A day at the beach.
- A ride in the country.
- First day at school.
- Getting married.
- Social functions.
NursePartners is committed to providing uncompromised care to those living with a diagnosis of dementia. Our carepartners are trained in the Positive Approach to Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care (GEMS™) and work with families to enable safety, comfort, and meaningful activity through home-care services.
If your loved one need home care assistance or relief, our team would love to help.