10 Practical Activities for People Living with Alzheimer’s Disease
Living with Alzheimer’s disease forces many people to give up everyday activities that were once enjoyable and fulfilling. It’s understandable given how severe a condition Alzheimer’s is, yet it is important that patients continue to take part in various activities to help keep them engaged and stimulated.
The engagement of practical activities usually brings welcome relief from the difficult side-effects of living with Alzheimer’s disease, even helping to reduce negative feelings such as anxiety, anger, and agitation. Simply being engaged in something goes a long way to easing the mind someone living with Alzheimer’s while giving loved ones the chance to enjoy some recreational time together.
Certain activities are more suitable than others however, so it be a case of trial and error to find something that works for each person. Here are ten examples of great practical activities for people living with Alzheimer’s disease:
Buying some playing cards with large numbers and symbols can be a great activity for someone living with Alzheimer’s with many elderly patients enjoying playing around with simple card games such as solitaire or go fish.
Even those that are far into the disease and not capable of playing a card game may find enjoyment by simply shuffling and reading the cards, so it’s well worth picking up a deck. Make sure they’re engaged with the activity however, as there is a chance that they get frustrated through a lack of understanding, so always keep an eye on how they react.
Rummage Through a Memory Box
Filling a box with items from person’s past and letting them rummage through it is another great activity for people living with Alzheimer’s especially because it can help jog their memory and reconnect with their past.
Try filling the box with old mementos, photos, and keepsakes that they can have fun looking over. Personalize the box to include an old hobby too (e.g. gardening gloves, checkers board, sewing fabrics, baking spoon), as this often lifts the mood by reminding them of their past hobbies.
Make sure anything is safe to handle of course, as certain objects may be hazardous depending on their condition.
Create a Scrapbook
Elderly people have fond memories of thumbing through magazines, newspapers, and other printed media, so you could work together to create a scrapbook of old clippings. Look for vintage magazines that relate to their hobbies or newspapers with interesting photographs they might appreciate – anything they mind find engaging is worth adding.
Reading Old Magazines
You don’t even need to create a scrapbook with magazines and newspapers, as just looking through them can be very enjoyable for someone living with Alzheimer’s. It may help get a conversation going about a particular subject!
Untie a Knot
Untying a knot is a surprisingly engaging activity that can occupy the person’s mind for quite some time. Just buy a piece of thick rope from your local hardware store and create a few simple knots in it, then ask them to untie the knots.
While certain gardening activities are obviously too challenging for someone with Alzheimer’s, even some basic gardening tasks like filling small pots with soil or organizing seeds is a great way to get them outside in the fresh air and sunshine.
If they’re capable, you can give them a small part of the garden to personally work on, letting them plant some things and watch them grow over the months.
Simple Puzzle Games
Puzzle games are a good practical activity but it often helps to simplify to ensure they’re not too challenging. For instance, a basic jigsaw puzzle with a nice image and large pieces can work wonders, while playing around with dominoes or even rolling dice is very engaging – you can even make a game of adding the numbers they get.
Working on arts and crafts are very suitable activities for people with Alzheimer’s, allowing them to express their creativity and have fun at the same time. Painting is probably the safest bet as it’s relatively simple for them to do but keeps their mind occupied.
Listen to Music
People living with Alzheimer’s still maintain strong connections to the popular music of their past, so try putting together a fun playlist of their favorite songs for them to enjoy. Streaming services like Spotify have a great range of older songs from most eras, so finding classics for them to listen to should be easy enough.
Better still, dig out the old records and buy a cheap record player to listen to them – just like they would have in the past. If you can’t find any, check local thrift stores and Goodwill for cheap vintage vinyl records.
Tread String Through Pasta
Buy a packet of dried pasta with large holes, some string or yarn, and then ask the person to help thread them through. Tape the end of the string to make threading easier and leave them to it – it’s a surprisingly enjoyable activity that keeps their hands working while occupying the mind.