The Best Alzheimer’s Activities – A Caregiver’s Guide
By DJ Hughes
Alzheimer’s activities require a delicate balance for the caregiver to provide adequate activity and preoccupation, but without over-stimulating a patient to the point of frustration, embarrassment and depression. As a Caregiver, do you know what types of activities are most beneficial to an Alzheimer’s patient? Further care must be taken for the most appropriate activities for those that have progressed further with the disease as their cognition and mobility may be further compromised.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, the top 10 Alzheimer’s symptoms clearly show that cognitive function is the first thing affected.
The top ten Alzheimer’s symptoms are:
- Memory changes that disrupt daily life
- Challenges in planning or solving problems
- Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure
- Confusion with time or place
- Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships
- New problems with words in speaking or writing
- Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps
- Decreased or poor judgment
- Withdrawal from work or social activities
- Changes in mood and personality
A caregiver must be able to determine a senior’s capacity for some activities. A seniors self-confidence is lost when they feel frustrated that they can’t do something right or can’t remember the rules of a game. Therefore, it is important to remember that an activity itself is the goal, not a specific outcome.
Simple repetition can be very good for cognition as well. Many tasks that might otherwise seem boring and uninteresting are perfect as an activity for Alzheimer’s because they can contribute a sense of accomplishment. Caregivers should enable the senior to continue in activities that utilize skills they still retain from before the onset of the disease.
According to many research studies, some mild physical activity is most recommended for those suffering cognitive dysfunction because of the increase of oxygen to the brain. This can aide in slowing down the progress of the disease, and it helps elevate a senior’s mood and promotes relaxation. Inactivity can contribute to a senior’s susceptibility to depression because they feel unproductive. They may begin to feel they can’t do something only because they aren’t encouraged to do it. This is where a caregiver must exercise an intuitive sense of what the senior is actually capable of, and should be doing to keep their body and mind occupied.
Simple and repetitive activities, such as folding towels or laundry, sweeping, polishing, mixing, and walks, can help reduce anxiety. The repetitive nature of these activities eliminates the need for memory and judgement and can give the senior a sense of usefulness.
It is important to keep an activity appropriate to their ability. To over-stimulate a senior with memory difficulty can add frustration for both the senior and the caregiver. It may also cause the senior to withdraw further to avoid embarrassment and frustration.
Here is a list of some activities for Alzheimer’s to consider:
- Simple games
- watering plants
- flower arranging
- playing cards
- folding laundry or towels
- taking a walk
- baking cookies
- mixing ingredients
- baking cookies
- watching movies
- reading aloud
- listening to music
- singing songs
- weeding and gardening
- looking up names in a phone book
- looking at old family photographs
- simple conversation
- cutting simple pictures from greeting cards
- playing or moulding clay or play dough
Keep the pace simple, remove expectations, and know that just caring to do creative activities with an Alzheimer’s patient adds to their quality of life. Smile, laugh and enjoy them!
Written by DJ Hughes of Nursing Home Activities Resource. We provide information for caregivers and activity directors to help them improve the quality of life for the seniors in their care, with activities that entertain, stimulate, are therapeutic, promote interaction and health. New activities are being added all the time. If you would like to know more about Dementia and Alzheimer’s activities, please visit our site.
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