Taking a Holistic Approach to Caregiving


People living with Dementia require a high level of support for their physical health needs.  But what about their mental, emotional and spiritual health needs?  In this video, you’ll learn some valuable tips to enhance quality of life for your loved one by taking a holistic approach to care.

Learning together, creating together and playing together are the 3 primary “areas of impact” that will support you in enhancing quality of life for your family member with dementa.  Let’s break each of these down a little, so you can get started with these Artful Connection strategies right away!

Learning Together:  Are people ever too old and frail to learn something new?  No way!  Not even when Dementia is a factor.  The secret to encouraging interest in something brand new to them, is to:

  • engage their curiosity
  • make the learning fun
  • work together as an equal partner.

Stimulating the mind, goes a long way to decreasing boredom, a plague of most elderly and frail seniors.

Here’s an example of a learning opportunity, you can use to turn your next visit into a wonderful new memory.  Even if your loved one doesn’t remember what you learn together, the next time they see you, they will remember how it made them feel.  And you will remember how it made you feel too.  Collecting positive memories of your loved one’s final stage of life, can help to feed your heart & soul for many years after their passing.  I encourage you to adapt this little activity in ways that will connect with your loved one’s interests, past experiences and current abilities.  

*LEARNING ACTIVITY*  A great Activity to enhance learning together is to create a Bucket List.

Brainstorm together, to make a list of the things your loved one would like to do in their life.  It doesn’t really matter if their ideas are realistic or not, the process of talking about the things they wish to include on the list, will spark all kinds of conversation and allow you to connect with your loved one on a deeper level.  Together, you can choose one or two of the ideas to spend some time “researching” together  in order to learn more about the topic.  Track down a video or movie that ties into their bucket list theme.  You can also create a scrap book or vision board of images and information that build on that particular interest. Perhaps there is someone in the community who has done that very thing and might be willing to meet with your loved one to share their experience.

Creating Together: When Creating Together,  as with all activities, set aside any expectations of your loved one’s ability or level of participation on any given day.  These things can vary day by day, so simply invite your loved one to participate in the process, modify the process to accommodate whatever today’s definition of ability and level of participation may look like, and make the activity enjoyable.  Even if your loved one doesn’t consider themselves to be creative, arts-based activities will give them a new way to express themselves and show their feelings.  Celebrate in whatever the final outcome ends up being.  Playing your loved one’s favourite music while creating together, can add to the joy of the activity.

*CREATIVE ACTIVITY*  A great creative activity is to make a greeting card for a mutual friend or family member.

Choose an art medium that appeals to your family member - it might be painting, drawing, pastels, collage, print making or a combination of different art mediums. Water colour paper or card stock makes a good foundation for a card.  Abstract images may be less intimidating to create than something intended to look “realistic”.  It can be a lot of fun taking turns with simple “mark making” until you agree the card is finished.  Work on writing a simple poem or haiku together for the inside of the card.  The important thing is to enjoy the process of creating and have fun.

If you have a learning activity or creating activity that has worked well for you, please share it in the comments below.  I’d love to hear from you!

*PLAYING TOGETHER* The verb “play” means different things to different people, so think about what “play” means to your loved one - and to you!  Tap in to your loved one’s sense of humour and sense of fun.  Let go of your own barriers to feeling silly about actions and reactions that are a little outside the box for you.  Being “stage appropriate” is much more important (and logical) than always trying to be “age appropriate” with your loved one.  If your loved one’s stage of dementia compares to adolescence or even early childhood, let that be your guide.  This can be an awesome opportunity to learn more about the activities your loved one enjoyed at a different time of their life.  

I encourage you to make your learning activities and creative activities as playful as possible; take your cues from your family member and adjust to suit their level of  energy.  Try to keep your visit light, with the ultimate goal to create greater connection and many moments of joy.

*A GIFT FOR YOUR* To help get you started on a more creative and joyful journey as a caregiver, I have a very special gift for you!  “Using the Arts to Create Joy & Connection” is a FREE online course so you can go deeper with using the arts to enhance quality of life in your role as a caregiver.  We’ll look at a couple of important “Mind Shifts” to support you with the process and there are 3 awesome arts-based activities to get you started right away.  Downloadable activity sheets are included!  To learn more and to register, go to the link below this video.


If you liked this video, give us a thumbs up and subscribe to the Artful Connections YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCwKFPRnnF1QdDjhHEujhM6Q!  The next video in this series explores “How Engagement in the Arts Affects Quality of Life”.  See you next time!


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