6.17.16   Ten Beneficial Activities for Alzheimer’s Patients



Good afternoon. Welcome to Demystifying Alzheimer’s. I’m your hostess Mary Yamin-Garone.

Today’s topic is Ten Beneficial Activities for Alzheimer’s Patients.

The consensus is that cognitive stimulation can help slow the decline of Alzheimer’s, especially in its early stages. In the beginning, it’s important to keep an individual’s mind active so it doesn’t begin to slow and shut-down. As Alzheimer’s progresses, those suffering from the disease no longer perform simple tasks and stare into space more frequently. That’s when activity and interacting with others becomes essential.

What activities best suit people with Alzheimer’s? That depends on the individual. According to AARP, it’s important to create meaningful activities, not just ones that fill time. Consider interests your loved one had in the past, knowing that some activities may need to be modified for safety or practicality. Keep in mind that Alzheimer’s affects behavior and senses in addition to memory. So activities that someone once enjoyed may become overwhelming or even frustrating now.

Here are ten beneficial activities to do with Alzheimer’s sufferers that may slow cognitive impairment associated with the disease. Certain activities may work better at different times of the day. Understand that your loved one’s level of interest or involvement may decline as the disease progresses.

  • Depending on how far your loved one’s Alzheimer’s has advanced, puzzles are a great source of distraction and a good activity for their mind. A l00-piece jigsaw with lots of colors is a good choice. The pieces should be large and the images should not be child-oriented but rather scenic views or pictures of animals. Floor puzzles work well since they usually have large pieces and there aren’t so many that your loved one will get discouraged or frustrated. Assembling them on a table is recommended to avoid having to get up off the floor.
  • There are several activities you can do with pictures. Help your senior sort them by subject, type or date. When you’re finished, mix them up so they can be sorted in a different way the next time. Put together a photo collage or make a scrapbook by gluing pictures onto the pages and then writing notes about their memories next to it. Look through old photo albums and try to identify who’s in the picture, when it was taken and what the individual remembers about it.
  • Get items that your family member can sort, such as buttons of different sizes and colors, poker chips, bottle caps, balls or rocks. Have them group the various items together. Be sure to keep an eye on them, however, so they don’t try to eat the objects.
  • Let them make a chain by stringing things like Cheerios, Fruit Loops or popcorn and then hang the chain outside for the birds and squirrels. This activity is even more enjoyable because they can snack while they are stringing.
  • Coloring is a great decision-making activity that also helps to foster accuracy and strengthen their ability to concentrate. Your loved one chooses the colors and then works on staying inside the lines. lt’s also fun and can relieve stress for the seniors and the caregivers.
  • Read out loud or simply look through books and magazines that can lead to discussions. Picture books, like Bradley Trevor Greive’s A Light in the Attic and Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree, are popular choices.
  • It’s difficult for someone with Alzheimer’s to learn new games. The best ones are familiar and only have a few steps. Those who are still in the early stages of the disease would benefit from easy crossword and word search puzzles that have large type. Childhood games, such as Go Fish, OId Maid, War, Dominos and Bingo, are fun, too. Difficulty retrieving words is an early sign of memory loss. Word games can be fun and easy. Ask the individual to complete a familiar phrase, like, ”Somewhere over the…  or Easy come, Easy…. .”
  • Encourage your loved one to help with basic household chores. They can fold clothes, dust, vacuum, sweep the floor and set the table. Completing these tasks gives them a sense of purpose and accomplishment.
  • Engage them in physical activities, such as walking, dancing or stretching. It can be as simple as having them slowly raise their arms several times or bending at the knees or from side to side to improve their circulation.
  • Seniors love to reminisce. This form of cognitive stimulation works wonders for improving the quality of life for someone with Alzheimer’s. Activities could involve listening to music, baking and eating a special family recipe or telling ”I remember when” stories. Looking at pictures of cars, celebrities, clothing or events from their childhood also can bring back those feelings from ”the good old days.”

If your loved one resists an activity, take a break. You can try again later or ask them how the activity can be changed to make it more enjoyable for them. Remember to concentrate on the process of an activity and not the results. It doesn’t matter if you never get the puzzle put together. What matters is that your loved one enjoyed the time spent on it and felt useful.

That’s all for today. Thanks for listening. I hope this information was helpful.

Join me next time for more Demystifying Alzheimer’s.

About Lillian Cauldwell

Own and operate an Internet Talk Radio Network for 10 years, 2005 to Present Published Author of Non-Fiction Book, 1996, "Teenagers! A Bewildered Parent's Guide. Published Author of several fiction books, 2006 "Sacred Honor" and 20010 "The Anna Mae Mysteries: The Golden Treasure." Playwright of Theater of the Absurd and Black Comedies. Screenwriter, Black Comedies