Important Activities for One with Alzheimer’s
Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia are chronic illnesses that worsen over time. It’s understandable, then, that when a loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, many families respond with an urgent desire to spend more time together. Finding healthy activities that take into account a loved one’s changes in memory, thinking, mood, and behavior, on the other hand, takes some thought. We’ve highlighted 10 simple activities that the entire family can do together as part of our ongoing series for Alzheimer’s Awareness Month (organized by the Alzheimer’s Association).
Keep in mind that as Alzheimer’s symptoms worsen, you’ll need to adjust your activities accordingly. Sensory activities such as describing a smell or petting a dog, for example, will be more appropriate for someone with late-stage Alzheimer’s than a complex game.
Where to Begin – Dementia-Friendly Activity Warning!
The one thing we do know is that being active and engaged is one way to slow the onset of dementia. So, where is a good place to begin? A good first rule for any caregiver: Meet your loved one where they are.
It is common for someone with a diagnosis of dementia to withdraw from social activities and events that are too stimulating. They try to hide symptoms and compensate with strategies that make sense to them. It is important to figure out ways to engage and interact with someone with dementia as it is unfolding. Here are some guidelines:
Avoid bringing up the fact that they are no longer able to do something.
Respectfully, direct their attention to options that compensate for any skills they may have lost. For example, if your loved one is no longer able to drive, you and your loved one can sign up for a ridesharing program together or offer to drive them to events or appointments in a way that is supportive, genuine, and non-shaming on their behalf.
Organize social gatherings.
There are numerous advantages to socialization for senior citizens. People suffering from dementia, on the other hand, can become anxious and afraid when they are in large groups or unfamiliar environments. Instead, try to gather smaller groups of people for socializing and interaction. For someone who is navigating dementia, dinners at home with a small group of people rather than large gatherings in a restaurant are more supportive.
Create a group of people to lean on for support and care. Involve the family
Friends and family members who understand the situation and are willing to learn how to be excellent caregivers are of the utmost significance. The primary caregiver must establish a circle or community of friends and family members who can be supportive and who can assist in keeping the loved one engaged in the process of caregiving. Inform them that they will continue to be a vitally important presence in the family and in the community at large.
Reminisce with one another – Ideas to remember
Old family photos elicit a wealth of memories. Invite loved ones to tell stories as you sit side by side on the sofa or porch. These moments will serve as the foundation for priceless memories for you and other family members in the years to come.
Take a stroll
Walking has numerous health benefits, and it is something that the entire family can enjoy. Point out the sights and sounds of the season as you walk, whether it’s the arrival of birds in the spring or the changing colors of the leaves in the fall.
Tell a Story
Children and grandchildren can practice new reading skills by reading aloud to an Alzheimer’s patient relative. They could also try making up their own stories together. Begin with a simple prompt, such as imagining a day at the beach.
Play some music
Music has the ability to both calm and evoke memories. It can also serve as a foundation for creating new memories: choose songs with catchy melodies and simple lyrics and organize a singalong.
Make a Craft
Crafting has a meditative quality to it. Stringing beads for a necklace or Cheerios for the birds are two ideas. Even rolling yarn can occupy the attention of an Alzheimer’s patient’s relative.
Put a Puzzle Together
Large-piece puzzles provide a tactile and visual activity. Sorting through pieces for the right fit is fascinating, and seeing an image emerge can provide a sense of accomplishment.
Take Part in a Game
Bingo only requires the ability to recognize letters, numbers, and other basic symbols. An individual can feel a sense of accomplishment after completing a row and calling “Bingo.”
Assist with Household Tasks at Home
Invite a loved one to assist you with simple tasks like washing produce or folding napkins. Praise their efforts and let go of imperfect results—involving them in daily chores can help them feel more confident and normal.
Sort the Items
Alzheimer’s patients can engage their minds with sorting tasks as their symptoms worsen. Give them a deck of cards to pile according to suit. Alternatively, ask them to assist in sorting socks from the dryer—again, involving them in meaningful household tasks can boost their self-esteem.
Experiment with the Five Senses
Activities for family members with late-stage Alzheimer’s will most likely need to be reduced. Sit with them while they pet a dog or soft blanket, ask them to describe the scent of baking bread, or look out the window for birds together.