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Activities to Do with Loved Ones or Clients who Have Alzheimer’s or Dementia

Woman playing dominoesFamilies and professionals often ask us about ideas for activities to do with their loved ones or patients with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. It is important to find meaningful activities to participate in with them, as they can be vital to the person’s mental health and physical well-being. AgingCare.com suggests four guidelines for choosing activities that are not just time-fillers.

  1. Consider their interests and abilities and try to find activities that match up
  2. Reestablish old routines that create a safe sense of purpose, like simple household chores
  3. Provide opportunities for social interaction, for example, by taking them places with you
  4. Encourage physical exercise,like daily walks or a stationary bike

For the Withdrawn and Resistant

A major concern for caregivers of elders with dementia is that they become withdrawn and are resistant to participate in any activities. In these situations, you have to get creative. Experts have found that sometimes people with Alzheimer’s disease respond better to different people. Try to get a variety of people to participate in activities with your elderly person. Sometimes, a different face can be the solution. 

Lists of Activities to Turn to for Ideas

We can always count on the Alzheimer’s Association to have excellent information on any related subject. The ideas below came from their website’s list of 101 activities. I picked just 10 to highlight that you could do with almost anyone in any stage of dementia:

  1. Listen to/play music; sing old songs
  2. Read out loud: favorite stories, letters from family members, etc.
  3. Look at family photos and talk about who’s in them
  4. Have a friend visit with a well-behaved pet
  5. Play dominoes (my 96-year-old dad with almost no short-term memory still loves to play)
  6. Sort objects by shape or color
  7. Give a manicure or pedicure; rub in lotion
  8. Take a walk outside, even if the person is in a wheelchair
  9. Reminisce about a favorite sport, summer, famous person, President, etc.
  10. Interview the person about his or her life and record what they say

From another list of 50 Activities, here are five different choices:

  1. Watch a movie
  2. Take a ride together
  3. Sit outside and people watch
  4. Feed the birds (or squirrels or ducks)
  5. Help to write a letter to a family member

Alzheimer’s Association Activity Resources to Borrow, Download or Buy

Identified here is a selected list of activity resources. Materials may be available for loan from the Alzheimer’s Association Green-Field Library or for downloading and purchase through various outlets. Search for titles in the online catalog and visit “how to borrow.” This list of resources is categorized by “Resources for early to moderate stage” and “Caregivers.” 

As you’re looking for activities to participate in with your loved one or patient, remember to make them as meaningful as possible. Sticking to a regular schedule for certain activities can also make it easier to ensure the cooperation of someone who has a hard time remembering even which things they like or don’t like to do.

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