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Wisdom from our elders

How to keep Mom with Mild Cognitive Impairment occupied while daughter works at home

Dear Grandpad:

Dear GrandPad: My mom was diagnosed with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) a while back, so she’s moved in with me. While COVID has been a nightmare for many people, it’s allowed me to work from home which is becoming permanent and saves me both worry and money for Mom’s future care. The trouble now is that she doesn’t know what to do while I’m working on the computer. She used to be active with promoting their symphony, but since she moved here with me, she’s been separated from both her friends and her volunteer work. She used to garden. We live in a condominium so that’s not a real option, though she enjoys the balcony, somewhat. Music is her first love, so I stream music shows for her, but it upsets her not to be able to do this herself. Do you have any ideas that could keep her happily occupied while I work? – HC

Dear PS:

Dear HC: What a blessing that this arrangement is possible! Of course, we’d love to help with some ideas that could make life even better for you both.

Part of your mom’s problem might be that she doesn’t feel useful anymore. How about asking her to do advance meal prep for supper? Or some baking if she enjoys that. Of course, you’ll have to monitor this as her cognition declines, but for now, these tasks could help keep her occupied as well as make her feel less dependent.

You mentioned having a balcony, so you probably keep some flowers out there. Could you ask her to help plant and care for them?  She might even try planting herbs and maybe a few vegetables. There are tiered containers specifically made for tight spaces, so this could be a new hobby. If she likes to cook, growing fresh herbs to add to favorite dishes can be emotionally satisfying.  

How about a GrandPad tablet? With a GrandPad, she needn’t feel lonely while you work because she can share a video call with one of her old friends just by touching a button. These calls enhance the feeling of connecting with people and are at the heart of GrandPad’s mission. She could also play games on her tablet alone or with others and use the Internet safely since you’ve set up her options.

Aside from the video chat, her biggest gain could be that she’d have easy access to music. Music has even been shown to help the brain function better, so we envision her listening to the classical music channel as she cares for the plants on the balcony or does some kitchen work. Of course, there are all kinds of other music options so by touching the icon for a different station her favorite rock or country favorites from her youth are right there, too.

The main thing to remember is that she may need to feel more like she’s a contributing household member rather than a guest. We’d love to know how this all works out!

Live Grand is a weekly column brought to you by GrandPad — the simplest, safest tablet-based solution that helps reconnect families.

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