Who knew that a 10-cent balloon could bring so much fun and joy to a group of adults with dementia?
All of the balloons at daycare are inflated to the size of a melon and vary in color. When I walk around the room with a balloon, some people reach out for it the same way Jack did, including Ed.
Ed seems out of place at the daycare. He’s attentive and moves around the room like a member of the staff. However, once you start talking to him, his boyish nature shows through in his mischievous smile.
When Ed takes a balloon, he pretends he is playing dodgeball. He winds up like he’s going to hit you with it but then he gently tosses it, and chuckles as if to say, “I got you!”
He gets a lot of joy in fooling me during his dodgeball portrayal.
Mark is in his 90’s. He doesn’t talk much but when he does, it’s usually one of a variety of inspirational quotes he tells me as if he’s my father.
Mark always wants me to hand him the balloon, and I always know what’s coming next, LOL. He rubs the balloon to make a fart noise. He then tucks the balloon away, and asks, “Who did that?” He looks left and right, does it again, and waits for someone to respond. The knowing look on his face is priceless.
Other times, when my lady friends are sitting around the table, I will put the balloon in the center. Instantly, many hands reach for the balloon and start knocking it around. They love to bat it at each other, and the room is filled with girlish giggles.
One participant, who is unable to communicate and has extremely limited mobility, will at times try to move her hand towards the balloon. Although, she is unable to participate, she chuckles as well.
It really proves to me that we must leave the stereotypes at the door, and stay creative as we search for things that make our loved ones happy.
READER: Have you discovered ways to make someone chuckle? Please share, we’d love to hear from you.
Mike Good is founder of Together in This, an online resource helping family caregivers succeed. To help you prepare for your loved one’s future, be sure to grab his free 3 Free Tools Successful Caregivers Use to Get Their Ducks in a Row. You can also join him on Facebook.