10 Stimulating Activities for Alzheimer’s Patients

Dementia can cause seniors to withdraw from activities, family and friends. But maintaining those relationships and interests reduces the effects of severe cognitive impairment, leading to a better quality of life.10 Stimulating Activities for Alzheimer's Patients

The most common form of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease impairs behavior, memory and thought. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer’s accounts for 50-80% of dementia cases. While memory loss may start out mild in early stages, the disease worsens over time. Eventually, it can restrict a person’s ability to carry on a conversation or even respond to people or surroundings.

Activities Bring Pleasure to People with Alzheimer’s

Keeping aging loved ones active in hobbies and interests that gave them pleasure in the past is important after a disease diagnosis. These stimulating activities for Alzheimer’s help:

  • Stir memories
  • Foster emotional connections with others
  • Encourage self-expression
  • Lessen the anxiety and irritability that Alzheimer’s may bring
  • Make people with Alzheimer’s feel more engaged with life

What activities best suit people with Alzheimer’s? That depends on the individual. As AARP.org describes, it is important to create meaningful activities, not just ones that fill time. Consider interests they 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 a person once enjoyed may become overwhelming or even frustrating now.

Suggested Activities for Seniors With Alzheimer’s

Here are 10 activities to try with your loved one. Certain activities may work better at different times of day. Understand that the person’s level of interest or involvement may decline as Alzheimer’s progresses.

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  1. Sing songs or play music.
  2. Do arts and crafts, such as painting or knitting. Keep tools and patterns simple.
  3. Organize household or office items, particularly if the person used to take pleasure in organizational tasks.
  4. Clean around the house. Sweep the patio, wipe the table, fold towels or try other household tasks that help the person feel a sense of accomplishment.
  5. Tend the garden or visit a botanical garden.
  6. Read the newspaper.
  7. Look at books the person used to enjoy.
  8. Cook or bake simple recipes together.
  9. Work on puzzles.
  10. Watch family videos.

Take a Flexible, Supportive Approach

If your loved one resists an activity, take a break. You can try again later, or ask your loved one 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 does not 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.

What activities does your loved one with Alzheimer’s enjoy? Please share your insights below.

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Please leave your thoughts and comments

  • Another great article Jennifer. It’s also very important for family members to understand that creating or maintaining purpose is important even in the early days of an Alzheimer’s diagnosis. So often the caregiver overcompensates and prematurely starts chipping away at their loved one’s independence.

  • Bright Shadow Katy

    Great article-so good to be emphasizing that activities need to be meaningful, not just passing the time!

    Katy

    Director, Bright Shadow
    https://performanceanddementia.wordpress.com/

  • coral

    My grandfather enjoys seek and find books. It has a list of 10 items to find in the picture, and he circles it.

  • jen

    Thank you for the information, my mother was diagnosed in June and life just seemed to stop, she stopped working and has become withdrawn from socializing. My father isn’t handling it with much patience, I’m trying to come up with activities around my work schedule that we could do that she would enjoy.

    • Debbie

      Hi Jen I have seen this before your mom is showing signs of depression she is worried about her future and is frustrated I’m sure with the early stages of forgetting. I would let her express what she feels and reassure her that no matter what happens that you will be there with her. I’m assuming your mom is in the early stages of alz. I would suggest outings for her I would take her grocery shopping don’t do a list just say we’re gonna get healthy mom and take her to the produce isle have her check the fruit for you and say that you are not a good fruit picker but you knew she was. She needs to feel good about still being useful I would also give her hope do things with her that slows down the disease tell her she seems to be her old self even if she is not she has to build her esteem again always keep fresh flowers in the house ask her to dog sit if you have a dog gossip about the neighbors. Ask her advice and don’t notice if its not well thought out or she says she dont know. Tell her you read a new recipie for baking a cake in 1 min online ( not a fib you are on line) try it out 321 cake mix a box of angel food cake with a box of any flavor cake mix in a ziplock bag get a coffee mug out take 3 tablespoons of the dry mix 2 tabelspoons of the water and mix in the mug microwave for 1 min. Top with cool whip. Best wishes to you I am a activity director at a nursing home and also was the sole caregiver of my grandfather who suffered from Alzheimer’s disease and just recently passed away. I know how hard it is to work and care for a loved one with this disease I would take off my windshield wippers on my car and beg my grandpa to help me just so he would feel helpful he had Alzheimer’s but I acted like I wouldn’t make it without him so it gave him purpose. Just find that something that will give her a purpose you may have to fake the flu just so she will have to check your temp and look for blisters on your throat. Best of luck sweetie. I recomend you buy the book a best friends guide to Alzheimers.

      • Janet

        Debbie, Who is the author of the book you mentioned? There were several with titles like that. My Dad just died from malnutrition from dementia. This was 11 months after Mom died. He just wanted to be with her. Interesting he still knew all of us. It was heartbreaking to place him in a nursing home. All the children lived out of state but friends were there every week and my siblings were there every other weekend. I would go home and spend 2 to 7 weeks with my parents to help take care of them.

        Then I finally returned to find that my husband was having trouble wit his memory. After 9 months of testing it was determined he did not have dementia, but had a mini-stroke that has permanently affected his short term memory. He had developed atrial fibrillation and had thrown a small clot. It’s almost overwhelming. I spent 2 years taking care of my parents and now this. Any good ideas for helping with short term memory? Sometimes if I have him repeat it, then he will remember.

      • Della

        To Debbie, per your reply to Jen. I really enjoyed your suggestions, and I was not surprised when you later mentioned in your post that you have much experience with caregiving. I totally agree that it is so very important to give our loved ones a feeling of PURPOSE and BEING NEEDED AND USEFUL. That is something we all need, and it is no different with our memory impaired loved ones.
        I am an avid reader, and so I have read much on the subject when my father was diagnosed about 4 years ago. 2 books I have read that I highly recommend are :SINGING IN THE RAIN ( Weathering the Storm of Dementia with Humor, Love and Patience)
        WHILE I STILL CAN…( One Man’s Journey Through Early Onset

        Alzheimer’s Disease.)
        Thank you for sharing this valuable and very informative post. GOD BLESS YOU.

    • Della

      Jen, I truly relate to your situation. I particularly understood when you mentioned your father not handling your mother’s illness with much patience. My stepmother abandoned my father after 37 years of marriage and returned to Mexico. This wonderful, hard-working and dear man, who raised 4 children with patience, love and understanding, was refused this himself from the one person who should have remained at his side. Fortunately, GOD blessed him with children that have stepped up and given back to him what he has given his entire life. ALZHEIMER’S: THE CRUEL DISEASE! GOD BLESS YOU, and good luck with your difficult road ahead.

  • Snowhorse11

    Not sure what stage my Gramma us in now, but she 87 n dont move or talk much and dont remember anything past 20 seconds. However she likes word search, coloring, music and folding clothes. This disease is horrible, not only for her, but for us watching and living with her changing issues everyday:(. She was such an active ( sewing, alot ceramics, traveled to her mountain home every weekend) sweet lil lady 😉 <3 tomorow i am gonna try a 50-100 pc puzzle w her.

    • pam

      Sounds like stage 6

    • Della

      I feel your pain, sweetie. This is why the disease is referred to as “the cruel disease”. It is devastatingly CRUEL to all parties involved. GOD BLESS YOU.

  • Jennifer

    I am an Activity coordinator in a convent. This has been my first experience working in this kind of environment. I am used to folks who were eager to participate and have never had a problem before this. I work primarily in the infirmary and the nuns are not or will not get involved. I am asking here if you could suggest good one on one activities to help motivate these individuals. Feeling frustrated.

    • Michelle Prater

      Jennifer, Music is a great tool. It bypasses the brain and goes straight to the heart. It is amazing how dementia patients can remember songs from childhood. Try an old praise cd or gospel music cd. Other than that you have to try to find something they like, something that motivates them. They love to talk about themselves, share memories from childhood. Other things are games like dominoes, checkers. Simple card games like Old Maid, Go Fish. Not sure if this is what you are looking for or not. Hope it helps.

    • Debbie

      Hi Jennifer I am a activity Director as well here are some of my best activity ideas for Alz. 1:1
      1. Make a picture album of old black and white photos printed off the Internet be sure to include lots of children at play photos as well as old cars and wedding photos this will prompt lots of discussions and story’s always agree with who they say the people in the pictures are. Make over the baby’s etc.
      2. Music is the only activity that stimulates all 4 parts of the brain play music they would have listened to in there early teens
      3 leave dolls around do not hand to them but just leave them nearby with blankets let them find them.
      4. Make a rummage basket put necklaces, ties, old sets of keys, hats kitchen accessories flashlights etc. take it in and set it between you and ask them to help you look for a set of keys you need in the box take your time pull out a hat act so happy put it on and say my I love this hat I didn’t know what happened to it take it off and hand it to them keep prowling threw box letting them also converse and look at items I throw in a bra or panties just to act embarrassed about it that always makes them laugh remember they won’t remember your looking. For the keys that is just something to get them started prowling.
      5. Painting or coloring.
      Try to get a subscription to http://www.activityconnection. Com they have print off puzzles and games I use them all the time it’s a great resource. Remember to just do the best you can sing a lot and show love give hugs its never easy but it is so rewarding. Best wishes Debbie

      • Debra Harris Vinsant

        You are so right Debbie I’m a act. Director also and these are my top success act. As well. I would just add feeding the birds and flower aranging to this list as well as everyday things folding blankets stacking plastic plates and letting them peel and fry apples and potatoes to this list. They lose interest in most of the frequently listed act. Like puzzles very quickly. The photo albums are the best act. I’ve ever done with them I throw them in a box of junk and tell them I’m cleaning the attic the rummage with me and always always look thru the albums and show the photos. They’ll say these are my neighbors children or that’s my wedding photo it’s amazing.

  • Fiona Simpson

    I work in a facility and there is so much that we are not aloud to do as to them (hierarchies)its not classed as a activity??? Or residents are not interested i have tried 95p/c of these activities that are on all sough ts of sites for dementia,i am sooo frustrated I am at the stage when im ready to give up 🙁

  • Bonnie

    I care for a 92 y/o woman with advanced dementia; tried a 100 piece puzzle; she liked turning the pieces over but the puzzle itself was too much chaos & caused her anxiety.

    • Zo

      I started with a 36 large piece puzzle I ordered on line. Tried to find ones that had pictures she could relate too. It worked.

  • vicky houser

    My Husband is a 66 yr. old Vietnam vet who was diagnosed 3 yrs. ago with Dementia. this has been a very DIFFICULT disease to comprehend. I have tried games such as toss across, search word puzzles, kids jigsaw puzzles, etc… He’s now not as interested as he was 6 months ago. It seems everything’s getting old and I’m running out if ideas, We have traveled and been involved in different things but, as time goes by it seems he just dosen’t want to do anything or dosen’t know what he wants to do. Does anyone have any ideas ? thanks

    • caitlinburm

      Hi Vicky,

      You are completely right. This disease is difficult and can be extremely hard to comprehend.

      Have you tried singing songs or playing your husband’s favorite music for him?

      My family and I have always found that to be helpful when my grandmother (who is in the later stages of dementia) becomes disinterested in other activities. She is immediately stimulated by music, big band in particular.

      We at Alzheimers.net will be thinking of you and your husband and are wishing you the best during this time.

  • qwkfingers

    What bothers me is that there are no activities on the weekend because the Activities people at the memory care center where my mother lives are off on weekends. I can understand that, but come on, in health care, specifically Alzheimer’s/dementia related memory care centers, life for residents doesn’t stop on the weekends. It bothers me that there isn’t some type of activity going on during the weekends, too. I spend time with Mom and do activities with her, but a person can only watch just so much TV. The “TV” room is always jammed with people in recliners with an old movie on. My mom is sick of I Love Lucy and Andy Griffith reruns and old black and white movies. Her dementia is to the point where she can’t figure out how to use the TV remote in her room. We even bought her a VERY simple remote and she still can’t figure it out. We can’t be there all of the time, though we are there a lot. I feel just awful for her. She’s complaining of being bored, being lonely, doesn’t remember that we were just there. I’m sorry for venting like this. Like many of you, she can’t think of what she wants to do, she doesn’t seem to care about doing anything, oftentimes, she just sits and stares straight ahead with her mouth hanging open. She’s just “gone.” 🙁

    • caitlinburm

      Hi qwkfingers,

      My grandmother’s story sounds very similar to your mother’s. She is unable to use a remote or a phone now, and she often sits or stares or sleeps the day away.

      Fortunately, we tried singing songs like the list above recommended, and music seems to stimulate her when she is awake. Have you had any success with using music to stimulate your mother?

      Thank you for sharing your story, and please comment whenever you feel the need to vent. Alzheimers.net is a very supportive online community.

    • Shirley

      Qwkfingers,
      I am a memory care coordinator in my facility. We have planned activities on the weekend just as we have during the week. Talk to the executive director of your facility and voice ur concerns about week end activities.
      On the weekends I leave detailed plans for activities for Saturday and Sunday. The scheduled staff is to carry out the activities for the weekend.

    • Debra Harris Vinsant

      I am a Recreation director and I can tell you that TV is a most inappropriate activity for Alzheimer’s. There should be activity 7 days a week however this is normally the most understaffed dept. in a nursing home they usually rely on CNA to do act. On the weekends. I’m fortunate that I have a weekend staff were in at but as a director I showed a need for this and really stepped up my game to prove that need and get the $. They like to rely on volunteers a lot. But they are not always consistent or well trained. I would speak to the act. Director and ask her to talk to her admin. About getting a weekend staff member. they should also have things for the CNA’s to do with the residents left out if all the residents are in the day room then the CNA’s should be in there doing something with them. Maybe the director needs to do some training with them. I’m very saddened by your post it breaks my heart that these patients are left to dwindle away for hours like this. You must speak up for the ones who no longer have a voice. Best wishes to you. Thank you for being a caring daughter.

  • Kitty Mason

    I appreciate what others have written about activities for family members with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia. I think it’s worthwhile to try modifying (simplifying) activities that the person enjoyed when s/he was cognitively intact. For example, my dad has always enjoyed feeding birds, and I saw an activity on stringing Cheerios to hang up for wild birds to eat. We bought 48 piece puzzles for him to do and find that it’s easier if you can provide part of the puzzle at a time — like all the pieces that form the edge of the puzzle first. It helps if the scene is a picture that the person would find interesting.

    A small white board might be fun for playing word games — fill in the missing letter, Hangman, etc.

    Other activities mentioned on other websites: playing Dominoes, identifying states in a map of the United States, using Play-Doh to give the hands some exercise, playing a simple card game, tossing a high density foam ball (like a Nerf ball).

  • karen s

    I am a dementia/alzheimers carer in a care home, i am looking for tips on understanding dementia/alzheimers also looking for ideas on hobbies & activities for our residents

    • Karen

      Karen S. I suggest your local chapter of the Alzheimer’s association! And AARP has some excellent information also! Good luck! And thank you for being a Alzheimer’s Caregiver! It means everything to them and you!

      • Heike Howe

        Hi,
        I am also an Alzheimer’s caregiver and work in a Memory Care Unit with 15 residents. We are continually trying to find new activities we can do with most of our residents in a larger group. Any suggestions ?

  • Kevin H

    My father has dementia and has never been much of a joiner, so he won’t do any of the activities at the memory care facility he is staying in. My mom and all of his siblings and friends are dead, so there is no one left that he can connect with who has been around most of his life. He still knows who I am so he will talk to me for a little bit, but we have never had a close buddy type father-son relationship where we did a lot together. I was a late “oops” baby when he was almost 50, so he didn’t end up doing as many things with me as my older brothers (16 – 22 years older than me). I have desperately tried to engage him in activities. He used to play golf, bowl and fish a lot. But he is in a wheelchair now so those don’t go so well…and he doesn’t want to be at a golf course or bowling alley if he can’t do it the way he used to. I tried taking him fishing 3 times and he won’t participate and then demands to leave after 3-5 minutes. I bought a Nintendo Wii to play the golf, fishing and bowling games…he hates it. Tried puzzles…he barely tolerated that for 3 minutes. Doesn’t want to play cards. Listening to music from his era…he turns off the mp3 player in a matter of minutes….he still can work out how to use newer electronics…so I guess that’s something.

    This is by no means an exhaustive list of everything I have tried. I try not concern myself with success any longer. I figure I just have to keep trying.

    • RebeccaP

      Try tabletop bowling without telling him it’s bowling. Stack a pyramid of 3-6 upside down cups on the table while you make dinner, and let him try to knock them down with a tennis ball. The other thing a lot of people enjoy is the ‘potty golf’ because it’s meant to be played in seated position.

      • Kevin H

        Thank you for the ideas. Not a success I am afraid. He got really angry and threw the tennis ball at me and told me not to treat him like he was retarded. So I left the room for 10 minutes to give him time to reset (forget what just happened) and then he was fine again. At least that is one benefit I get these days. If I do something that gets him mad, I just have to wait 10 minutes and he forget about it.

    • Karen

      Kevin, What you have given your Father already is very honorable! The love and thought that you have put into trying to engage him is more than many people would even try! Since you didn’t know him as a young man and have no reference to go by, your task is difficult! I can only encourage you to continue to try! Every moment you give of yourself will ease your mind letting you know that you did the best you could for your father!

      • Kevin H

        For a sad reason, things are actually a little better when I try to engage him in activities. As I mentioned in original post, I am late child, born when he was almost 50…so I was a late add in life. And now he does not remember having a third child anymore. He remember my brothers since they have been around 16 and 22 years longer than me…but not me anymore. Adamantly insists now that he only has 2 children. So when when I visit, he thinks that I work in the care facility or I am from his church or something he comes up with (different all the time)…and he is on his best behavior. When he knew I was his son he would treat me terribly (which in his mind I guess is permissible with family), but he retains enough social protocol to not treat a stranger like that. He will do some activities with me now that he would refuse when he knew who I was….I think because he doesn’t want to act improperly or be rude in front of a stranger.

        • Lorna

          My Dad has just very recently forgotten my brother and I are his second and third children, he only remembers having his first, but he knows my name and currently thinks I’m his niece. He clearly loves me which is lovely. He can no longer do most of his previous hobbies but likes singing along to his favourite music, especially as part of his local Alzheimer’s group. His tastes in humour have changed, he suddenly
          likes Dad’s army and has switched from whisky to brandy!

        • Debra Harris Vinsant

          I am so sorry Kevin alzheimers robs so many people not just the one with the disease. You are a fantastic son if your father were in his right mind he would tell you that himself. keep your head up. Wish I could say more to you to help you. Best wishes to you and your father.

  • Jane

    I care for my 95 yr old mother who still lives alone. Finding things to entertain her is challenging. She can’t remember things past a minute and has lost interest in most everything. She does enjoy humor, music and children. We sing songs and laugh at silly stuff. I wish there were more little children around because she loves to watch them play. I’m thinking of pulling out old family albums to look at and reminisce, even if she forgets who they are…I can fill in some of the blanks. She still enjoys eating out and thrift shops, but there is only so much you can eat and purchase. I love her dearly but I wish my brothers lived closer and could help out. I could use a vacation but have not been able to leave longer than a day. It’s hard.

    • Amy Johns

      Oh my goodness you sound so familiar. You described my life with my Mom. So frustrating. All she wants to do is eat out and shop. And complain about everything in the house. She hates everything…

    • Karen

      Jane, I hope your Mother is still as active as when you posted this! One of the most common problems of caregiving is burnout! I’m hoping that where you live there are Social Service programs available to you! Many of them would be free to your mother! These programs would allow you to be able to get those much needed and deserved days away to rest and renew! I’m sure like the rest of us you also have a life to tend to! And there’s a lot of stress that comes with this disease for caregivers! If you have difficulty finding service’s, reach out to your local chapter of the Alzheimer’s association! And they have many recourses for you!

  • Lori

    What saddens me the most is the majority of caregiver advise is focusing on the elder patient; my husband is 56 years old and I don’t think he would like to participate in “sing along sessions”. It’s so frustrating for find information for the early onset patient care.

    • Corinne

      I feel the same way. Finding advice or tips for someone at the start of the disease is so difficult. I had to dig up some old hobbies my mom used to have and revive them. She loves photography, so I bought her an easy to use but decent camera that was under 100 dollars. I made a list of places I could take her around to that are affordable, so she can experience it and take pictures. We’re slowly making our way down that list. Eventually, I’d like to get some of the photos made into prints and hang them up in her house, so she can see all the cool places she’s been. So perhaps you can try thinking of things your husband enjoys doing now and expand them, or maybe things he did when he was younger and try to get him back into them? Or if he can’t do it any more, get him involved in something that revolves around the activity. Like say he loved to play baseball, but can’t anymore. Maybe start taking him to local school games every chance you get. Or start helping him restart a baseball card collection (this would be a cool way to push him to learn the computer, if he doesn’t already use it). It’s tough trying to find activities or hobbies… But just keep in mind, the whole point of it is to get him to use and exercise his brain as much as possible, or as long as possible. Anything is better than letting him dissolve in front of the television – which my mom used to do a lot, too. Best of luck to both you and your husband.

    • RebeccaP

      Would he be interested in something more manly? Like soap carving with a dull knife? Or painting and sanding wood for a shelf? Tabletop sports like table bowling and table hockey? Balloon tennis? They make golf for the potty that could be used from a chair. They also have excellent games on the WII, and on a touch tablet.

    • Theresa Yanni

      Just check out Teepa Snow. I learned a lot from her YouTube videos. I just recently bought a company ,we make Alzheimer’s activity aprons and pillows. But that’s for folks in the latter stages though. Your local Alzheimer’s Association may have some support groups you can go to. Use them, they are a great resource. I wish you all the best.

    • Debra Harris Vinsant

      Hi Lori my name is Debbie I’ve been a activity director for 10 years and was also the sole caregiver of my grandfather who had Alzheimer’s disease am proud to say he lived at home till his death never forgetting how to walk. Use the bathroom or cook his own breakfast. The trick to alzheimers that no one will tell you is to maintain they cannot relearn so you have to try to maintain the skills they have as long as possiable. Make a list of what he can still do everything you can think of trust me you will need a list because we overlook things that are considered everyday things. Buy lots of posty notes write notes for everything set alarms post weather clocks everywhere that tell time date and weather month etc. don’t listen to expert who say posty notes are bad there not write notes for bathroom mirror make them fun like hi hubby brush your teeth then come find me for a kiss! Always sign your name and write you love them on good days my grandpa would leave me a note back. Activity so that help are caranium crunches word search puzzles get easy word searchable but make it a game you all race doing them always let him win. Cook togeather this is a great activity the best really do not do everything for him I know you will want to but don’t this is where your list will come in handy save the times for the great caregiving till later when he can no longer do the task. A few more ideas paint the house rolling paint on walls togeather is something he can do I promise. And he will think he is doing it for you. Redo a dresser sand it down togeather make a scrapbook togeather put names on every picture. Since this is your hubby be flirty always you don’t want to fall into the caregiver roll just yet write love notes like sweetie will you bag the trash for me etc. let him still be a man. There is a necklace you can record messages in he can wear around his neck for when your not there it’s a great tool he can push the button and hear your voice leave one thing on there when your not there make it something he can do multiple times such as giving the dog water or racking leaves etc. I wish you all the luck in the world. Take care of yourself it can weigh heavy being a caregiver acknowledge your feelings as well don’t feel guilty for them you didn’t create Alzheimer’s disease so it’s ok to be mad depressed or sad. Get lots of rest and eat good foods lots of Berries. I hope this helps a little bit my heart and thoughts are with you.

      • Nicole

        Hello i work for assisting place i have been there foe almost two weeks and they are bored with the same activty. What other type of games . they love puzzles and cards and bingo. I’m just a caregiver but i think that need something fresh because they will go to thier rooms and what type of movies are great for them to watch ?

        • kimmie

          Don’t ever say JUST a caregiver honey!!!! You are an important role in these people’s lives. I too am a caregiver, and worked in a memory care unit. Most of the time we, caregivers, are these little people’s family. As a caregiver on memory units you are a activity director too sometimes. So don’t ever say “I’m just a caregiver” you are so much more!

          • Della

            AMEN! The caregivers we have been BLESSED with during my dad’s ALZHEIMER’S journey have been a GODSEND! It takes a VERY SPECIAL type of person to do this kind of work, and I also believe it requires a lot of SACRIFICE on a person’s part. GOD BLESS THE CAREGIVER! YOU ARE ALL ANGELS SENT FROM ABOVE!

        • Annette CNA

          *On the discovery channel, there is a show called “How It’s Made” … a calm, entertaining and eye catching show. For anyone who use to tinker and try to fix things or who liked since , also “Myth Busters” . And on the animal planet channel, there is a show called “Tanked”.. They make really neat fish tanks. Also , there’s always the cooking net work channels and painting shows. Then the old Westerns like ” The Big Valley”, Little House On The Prairie” , and “The Walton’s”.
          I hope this helps,
          Annette
          CNA/Hospice Nurse Aide

        • cindy Groger

          Hi Nicole… I just got a promotion from caregiver to memory care activities director… We play beach ball, trivia, they love old songs, reading the newspaper to them. You may think they aren’t listening to you but believe me they will love it. I hope this helps. If you have any ideas email me… Grogercindy@yahoo.com
          I also will be researching for more ideas.

    • Ann W.

      I am an Activities Worker at a Memory Care facility. I have been facing this problem with one of our newer residents. I sing Bicycle Built for Two, & songs like that, with the residents and he is very quiet. It shocked me when he spontaneously started singing “Monday, Monday” one Monday. I have found that he needs 1to1 interactions focusing on his interests – fishing and hunting. We also have taken short runs together. He does better when he feels engaged and purposeful.

      • caitlinburm

        That is great to hear. Thank you for sharing that with us, Ann!

    • shannon fitzpatrick

      i totally agree i work in assisted living facility with a memory care unit i am currently about to be transferred to activities in memory care and see it all to much just like children as adults we still have different ideas of entertainment as adults and plan to try and change that at our facility a big reason most places i see are limted in activities is income we as employees are given little to work with they never want to buy or spend money on activities could you give me some ideas on something your husband likes to do you can email at shannonf_8@yahoo.com

  • Louise

    I coordinated a project called Storykeepers where community volunteers recorded & transcribed life stories of people with alzheimers. We put their life histories in book form and I made hand bound book covers to bind them in. Scrapbooking is basically the same thing. You sometimes have to get information from family and friends but putting a book together gives the patient purpose and helps them share the stories that might otherwise be lost to loved ones. I currently care for an elderly lady with alzheimers and we spend many hours talking about her life…i love hearing all her stories and her mood is so much better…her family is so pleased.

  • Anna McIntyre

    When i visit my grandma she becomes bored easily especially if neither of us are saying much TV doesn’t stimulate her, apart from watching the news and although still lives in her own house she is on her own and that plays on her mind a lot. I become frustrated at what i can amuse her with as when she’s bored she will make hum hum style noises to fill the short silence.
    I tried scrabble as she managed to play it at the beginning of last year but last week when i got it out again, she couldn’t manage to unscramble the letters before her to make even the simplest of words so i don’t think it would be suitable to play again but dominoes seemed to amuse her a lot. We played for almost 2 hours where my younger brother and sister joined in too and it was quite stimulating! She goes to bingo night at a local pub once a week with her younger sister and has recently started doing word searches.
    I just wonder what else would be suitable and fun to do.

    • Debra Harris Vinsant

      Dress up box sounds like it would be just the thing to do with your Grammie! Make a large tote of hats me laces colorful wigs shawls boa feathers glasses etc. you will have to start sit it between you and start digging in and putting the items on yourself be very animated then put some feathers around her neck do selfie photos with her get up and dance really be silly and have fun with it. Your Grammy will laugh and have a great time with this and so will you. I do this a lot to just bring some fun into the day. Plus the pictures are a memory you will cherish.

  • Sheryl

    Three weeks ago I had to move my mom to a memory care facility. It’s been very stressful as she hates it and continually tells me to take her home. She gets very angry with me; hits me etc and its very hard to have a meaningful visit with her. She doesn’t understand how long she’s been there and just keeps telling me she’s been there all day and is ready to go home. If I tell her she needs to stay she is very agitated. I’m clearly the bad person and it breaks my heart. Im not sure she even recognizes me as her daughter; I get the feeling in her mind I may be her sister. I feel extremely guilty and think maybe I should be looking for a different facility that she might like better. I’m confused and stressed.

    • Karen

      Sheryl, This is a terrible disease on everyone who it touches! I have no miracle answers for you but I wanted to try to let you know that the guilt you feel is also part of this disease! And as bad as it is, it shows how much you love your mommy! There is no timeline or correct answer! I may suggest that you reach out to your local chapter of the Alzheimer’s association to find a caregiver support group to help you validate your feeling so you can be at peace with the decisions you have made and guidance for the future!
      I hope this eases some of your worries!

    • Debra Harris Vinsant

      Hi dear my heart breaks for you I see family’s like you every day. I hate to tell you this but you need to lie to your mother terrible I know but it’s to save your relationship and still enjoy each other’s company. Tell her there is work being done to the house right now may be a month before it is done then do her room at the facility in her personal things. Her own bed clothes her pictures on the wall etc. change the subject when you visit as soon as possiable video one of the grandchildren doing something and show her the videos. Hopefully they have a good act. Program there talk to the activity director she needs to be busy and meet others like herself. Stay on top of this if the director says she refuses activity then ask her to not ask just say it’s time and escort her to the activity this dept. can be understaffed and they may not be persistent but stress to her that your mothers success depends on her most of the time they are very kindhearted individuals and will take her under there wing and help her. With Alzheimer’s. Activity is the most important thing even more important than her general health at this point. She can also give you ideas and simple crafts or puzzles you and your mom can do togeather when you visit. My heart just really goes out to you I wish your mom were in my facility but am confident in the people who share my profession and know that she will help you. Best wishes to you take care of yourself dear.

  • Cathy Masters

    Most of the activities that I see are not for men. My father is in a memory care unit with 11 women. Prior to his stroke he was vert active in crib and shuffleboard. Now he can’t remember how to play. He went from an outgoing person to a passive participant. He has difficulty communicating. These activities are available for assisted or independent. I am thinking of working with the recreational director to see if the staff will take him to the activities to sit in and watch. I’m hoping this will give him the male interaction and mental stimulation that I think he wants and perhaps eventually develop friendships where some of these men may take him under their wing.

  • Missy Sophie

    I purchased 8 piece puzzles for my mother in law. She used to do large puzzles when younger. She loves them and is so happy when she can put them together herself. Thinking about some wooden paper dolls. The cloths are magnetic, should be easy for her to use.

  • Pam

    I think what my husband is missing most is male company and conversation but how do I organise that for him and how do I stop him feeling frustrated when he loses the thread of the conversation?

  • Andrea

    New to this journey with my husband who is 10 years younger than me, and as well as Alzheimers (early onset) he suffers from chronic neuropathic pain for which there seems to be no help or relief. Recently as he was spending a lot of time just sitting we have joined a gym and work out 3x week and go to aquafit. He is loving it and follows his own program with a helpful trainer. I believe the physical activity stimulates all the senses and also lifts depression! It is also something we can do together.

  • Christine

    I am a dementia day care coordinator, I have had a massive influx of younger onset referrals lately. The need for carers to still work is so hard, there should be much more financial support for them, they stand to loose so much, and I wish I could provide the amount of respite they need to reduce the risks of them loosing their homes, and much more. How many of us could cope financially if we had to reduced to one income.

  • ClaireS

    Activities: around here I have just discovered a Men in Sheds for men with dementia. Near Stoke on Trent. There must be others. My husband is 75 and not practical but maybe he can go and watch and give support…ideal I should think for your 56 year old husband if he likes diy, gardening, carpentry etc. Also the thought: everyone is different. Keep your activities relating to what he/she was interested in. Not all can do things. Apathy is a key part of Lewy Bodies dementia, so interest is hard to generate. Best surround them with or offer things they enjoy: music, tv, people, walks. Mine would create havoc in the kitchen as his sense of logic is gone: things go upside down, instructions are heard often opposite to what is said. It’s not easy. He has no interests, but likes to talk – all the time. That’s wearying so doing activities would be easier. i have post its but he does not read them accurately and can’t decipher their meaning. I have found a day care, but he calls it: that old peoples place ! where some are younger than he is! Help is welcome but some advice makes you feel a failure, and other advice is too prescriptive. Best be inventive and tuned in – or tune out if necessary! good luck all. x

  • Dee

    I have been a caregiver for a year for my mom with Alzheimer’s. Keeping her active and engaged has been and continues to be a challenge. She loves to cook but she is unable to taste or smell. She refused to have help from me and would end up burning the food or using spoiled ingredients. She would leave stove on. Keeping her from cooking was tanamount to punishment in her mind. I go through the fridge daily and toss spoiled food without her seeing it. I put red tape on burners to indicate off position so I could see if stove is off from afar so she doesn’t feel like she is being “watched”. I slowly convinced her to share her kitchen with me so we could cook together. Once she no longer felt I was taking over, she became more open to the offer of assistance. My mom has always been in control and the idea of needing constant help threw her into instant depression. She puts notes on everything but gets confused when trying to read them. She must have everything “planned” and written on a large calendar because it is her security blanket. Every outing and activity gets written on there and she uses it like a bible. We have scheduled outings and activities planned every day of the week. An outing may be going to a doctor or to a grocery store. Any stimulation is better than sitting home crying and worrying. We go shopping together because if she went alone, she would buy the same item over and over. I have to pretend I need to go out and run errands and we can stop at grocery store on “the way”so I can assist her. She goes up and down the aisles staring at items as if there is a whole world of new products she is learning about for the first time. We go to try on clothes in the department stores, not to buy them, but to have her practice dressing herself. She still prefers to wear her same clothes, but trying on different types of clothing items allows her to practice with zippers and buttons. Gardening is very therapeutic for me. My mom always wants to “help” me. She doesn’t remember what to do, but she can follow one step directions still. I can also demo what to do and then hand her the tool. Music is another tool tat works wonders. I bought a few CDs from her favorite era and play them when she starts to get weepy or when she is seeming bored. We have game time as often as possible. Checkers, Scrabble, Memory, Connect 4, Perfection,Mancala and Puzzles with 100 pieces or less are part of our routine. Basically, it’s a crap shoot of hit and miss with what works. It can change daily. Just keep trying different things and be sure to do something for yourself daily as well.

    • caitlinburm

      Dee,

      Thank you for sharing your story with us. “Just keep trying different things and be sure to do something for yourself daily as well.” That is incredibly helpful advice that we can all benefit from.

      Thank you again!

  • Laurie Almoslino

    my mom used to be a first grade teacher, and loved to read to the kids. unfortunately, I lived in another state. But one day when I was visiting my parents, I asked my mom if she would read to me, and picked out a book she bought for me years ago “The Little House”. My mom read almost the entire book, slowly to be sure, but with interest and emphasis – she still had those skills despite her dementia/Alzheimers. After dinner, I asked her to finish it, but by then, it was too late in the evening, and she was reduced to looking at the pictures and trying to guess the story. She passed away a couple of months later, but having her read to me that day is a good memory.

    • caitlinburm

      Laurie,

      We are so sorry to hear about the loss of your mother, but thank you for sharing such a personal story with us about her. That is an incredible memory to have had with her in the midst of Alzheimer’s and dementia.

      Thank you again, for sharing.

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