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.
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.
- Sing songs or play music.
- Do arts and crafts, such as painting or knitting. Keep tools and patterns simple.
- Organize household or office items, particularly if the person used to take pleasure in organizational tasks.
- 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.
- Tend the garden or visit a botanical garden.
- Read the newspaper.
- Look at books the person used to enjoy.
- Cook or bake simple recipes together.
- Work on puzzles.
- 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.
– Jennifer Wegerer,