Gary's always liked digging around in things, hoping for a treasure. He loved a good garage sale, or antique store, the messier the better, because "discovery" is half the fun. Perhaps that is why our garage always looked messy to me. He had some "gems" hidden there, and he usually knew right where they were, and if not, had fun finding them again.
At this stage of Alzheimer's, I have found that Gary still enjoys the process of discovery. I happened upon this by accident. Gary has to have some kind of gadget, tool, fabric, or toy in his hands at all times. In fact when we need him to let go, and hold our hand, it is nearly impossible to pry his fingers off of the object. These items end up all over the house, and I began keeping them in bins. I noticed that he liked looking in the bins and picking up things out of the bin, so I began setting the tub on his lap. He really likes digging through and grabbing on to an item or two and then manipulating them. He'll lace the cord around his hand, or another object, twist the pvc pipe fittings, or fold and refold the fabric. The other day, I handed him his "duck-bill" pliers (his favorite hand tool), and he used them to pick things out of the box. I have to keep my eye on him so he won't pinch himself with them, but this is entertaining, and work for him. He is working with his hands, not producing a product as in the past, but he is working. His work is to use his hands and solve small problems, like picking up something that catches his eye and then see how it feels; smooth, rough, cold, or pliable.
Here is an interesting article on rummaging, and how to adapt it for your loved one with dementia. Click HERE to read it. Women like digging around in a big purse for notepads, hankies, wallets, etc...Businessmen may like a briefcase filled with office type items, books, calendars, calculators, etc. You get the idea.
At this point, Gary's bins have a mixture of tool-type items and toys as long as he shows an interest and it isn't dangerous. We are all about "maximizing what remains" and rejoicing in the
accomplishments, which are small in comparison to the past, but they are
big for Gary right now. I am so proud of him.