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Object Identification & Manipulation 

As dementia progresses, your loved one will begin to lose his or her ability to identify and manipulate certain familiar objects. In order to maintain as much independence as possible in activities of daily living, stimulate your loved one’s memory through touch and visual cues.

Following the below routine at least once weekly will help your loved one maintain the ability to identify and use common household and self-care objects — increasing your loved one’s confidence, self-esteem, and self-sufficiency.

Choose one area of the home to practice in per session — for example, the kitchen one week, the bathroom the next, and so on. Have your loved one walk through tasks in each room, and encourage them to identify and manipulate objects as if they were utilizing them.

Week one: Take your loved one into the kitchen. Ask him or her to demonstrate making a cup of coffee. Ask questions, such as: What would you pour the coffee in? Where would you find a cup? What do you put in it to make it sweet? Where would you find the sugar? What do you use to stir the coffee? Where do you find the spoons?

Week two: Ask your loved one to join you in the bathroom. Ask him or her to demonstrate getting ready in the morning. Ask questions like: What would you use to brush your hair? Where is the brush located? What do you put on the toothbrush in order to brush your teeth? Where would you find the toothpaste?

It’s important to have your loved one demonstrate activities of daily living, as well. Ask him or her to make the bed, show you how s/he washes the dishes, or how s/he hangs up clean laundry. Vary the tasks in each room, based on individual daily routines — and keep in mind that 15-20 minutes is a good amount of time to engage in this exercise. If it runs longer, your loved one may become worn out or frustrated. And, as always, do not offer correction or criticism. Only offer encouragement and praise for the efforts your loved one made.