Keeping the mind and body active and busy is important for everyone, but especially for the person with Alzheimer’s disease. Activities should focus on the person’s abilities, not their limitations. Activities should be safe, with enjoyment, not achievement being the intent. Recognize that the A.D. person’s interests can change from day to day and hour to hour. Activities that provide mental stimulation are best done in the morning, while soothing or calming ones are best done in the late day or evening. Realize that the attention span is likely to be short and the person may not be able to initiate activities but may be able to do them once the caregiver starts.
Following are some ideas for useful and interesting activities:
1. Helping with chores gives the person a feeling that they are still part of the household. Examples include: setting the table, folding the laundry, sweeping the floor, and sorting the silverware. My mother loved to fold dinner napkins.
2. Exercise releases tension, meets physical needs, and provides a feeling of accomplishment. A stationary bicycle or easy video can be used effectively.
3. Gardening – simple tasks under supervision can provide satisfaction as the person “watches their garden grow’.
4. Arts and Crafts – For example making pencil holders or vases from tin cans, trivets with glued tile pieces, painting shells and stringing beads for jewelry.
5. Games appropriate to the individual’s level of function can be stimulating.
6. Puzzles can be fun but first find the most appropriate for their stage. Sorting buttons, cards, coins, keys or socks can be a good activity for a lower functioning individual.
7. Drives to interesting places can be calming and life enhancing. A trip to the zoo, the botanical garden, or to a Florida Wetland is fun and provides the basis for positive communication.
8. Reading aloud and using visual aids to share stories, poems and pictures about days gone by is Best! I used to play my walkman and it was heaven to watch mom move her head to the tune of her favorite music.
9. Use of a VCR or DVD player – old movies can bring back pleasurable memories. Nature and travel films move more slowly and are easier to follow. Never have a person with Alzheimer's. watch the news. Especially during time of impending hurricanes- this can serve to agitate unnecessarily.
10. Scrapbooks to put in favorite or treasured small items or pictures could be fun.
11. Busy Boxes and Reminiscence Boxes can include everything from kitchen gadgets to sports equipment, sewing supplies or cosmetics depending on the person’s interests and the safety of the objects.
12. Again, music which the person enjoys can be soothing or stimulating. This includes everything from active listening to sing-a-longs.
Meaningful activities can give the Alzheimer's person a feeling that they are making a worthwhile contribution and thus enhance their self-esteem. Some positive ways to introduce an activity are: “Can you please help me with…” or “Could you show me how you do …., “ “It would be nice if you would make this for me.” It is not a good idea to ask the person to do a simplified version of an activity or craft in which they once excelled, as this could be upsetting. Above all, the Alzheimer's person needs to feel a sense of accomplishment, satisfaction and involvement from the activities you are presenting. And as we know, caring for pets provides a sense of accomplishment as I realized when I got mom a small puppy. It gave her an excuse to do her walking exercises while keeping little Jimmy safely in her walker's basket.
As a former Activities Director in long term care I understand the importance of activities. Please go to our contact page and complete the page if you are interested in setting up an activities program for your loved one with Alzheimer's disease. Please feel free to post your comments below. Thank you.
Posted 30th of January 2016 by Olga Brunner
Labels: A Good Daughter Elder Care Management; Activities planning for seniors; Alzheimer's
I Have worn many hats in my day: Nursing Home Assistant Admin and Activities Director, Assisted Living Admin, Case Management for the State-wide Medicaid Program, and Trainer for Dept of Elder Affairs.