Carol Howell Talks Dementia: Dementia and Relaxation

Life can be a challenge. Curve balls are thrown our way, and we are caught off guard. Routines are interrupted, and we revolt. Expectations are not met, and we feel disappointed.


I have experienced more than my share of stress in the last few weeks. It has not been fun, and it has not been easy. Much of it has caused me to stop. I’ve had to stop and think and ponder and evaluate. And then, I had to stop and REST!

Stress eats at our body and mind and spirit. It can destroy us, or it can be a motivator to initiate change. I had an individual I highly respect advise that I needed to “find myself again,” and stop letting the stresses of life destroy me. I’ve thought a lot about that, and I have decided this person was absolutely correct.

carol-howell-1That’s when I rediscovered the joy of relaxation. I love to pile up on the sofa with my flannel blanket Momma made, my dachshund (that’s her in the picture) stretched out beside me, and Netflix on the television. If there is a mug of hot coffee on the side table, then life is even more pleasant. I watch television until my eyes are heavy, and then I try to nap. (Try—because you know the phone is going to ring or the dryer buzzes or the dog barks). Relaxation is a good thing.

Think about how stressful life is for our loved ones with dementia. They realize, as my Grandma Carpenter who had Alzheimer’s use to say, “Something just isn’t right.” She did not know what that “something” was, but she knew life was off kilter. So do our loved ones. They know they have a problem, they want to fix the problem, and they are trying so hard to cover mistakes. All this causes them to be tired. Relaxation is very important.

Offer your loved one a time to relax. Maybe they would enjoy a massage, or a meal out, or even a shopping excursion. Maybe they want to help you cook or fold laundry like they did years ago. Maybe they would like to sit down with you and color a beautiful picture in an adult coloring book (don’t insult them with childish coloring books). Maybe a game of cards will bring about much needed release from the struggles going on in their brain. Maybe you need to sing to them. Whatever brings your loved one release from stress, please offer it to them regularly.

Whatever form relaxation takes for you, make it a point to practice it. As you can see from the picture, Zoe has it all figured out!

Hope that gives you Something to Ponder.


Photo by Kirt Edblom via Flickr

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