Arranging Meaningful Activities For Alzheimer’s Patients
Arranging meaningful activities for Alzheimer’s patients can be a challenge. People with this disease need to be active and do things they enjoy. However, keep in mind that it’s not easy for them to plan their days and do different tasks.
Some symptoms of the disease are fearfulness, being quiet, or just withdrawn. You may need to plan the activities for them and yet they still may refuse to participate.
Arranging Meaningful Activities: Planning
Plan activities that you think the person will enjoy. They enjoy routine, so schedule that activity for the same time each day. They can do the activity or just watch, if that makes them more comfortable.
Here are a few suggestions:
- Match the activity with what the person with Alzheimer’s can do.
- Choose activities that can be fun for everyone.
- Help the person get started.
- Decide if he or she can do the activity alone or needs help.
- Watch to see if the person gets frustrated.
- Make sure he or she feels successful and has fun.
And here are some activities you can try to do each day. Make sure to keep it fun and interesting.
- Household chores: Wash dishes, set the table, prepare food, sweep the floor, dust, sort mail and clip coupons, sort socks and fold laundry, sort recycling materials or other things.
- Cooking and baking: Decide what is needed to prepare the dish; measure, mix, and pour; tell someone else how to prepare a recipe; watch others prepare food.
- Exercise: Take a walk together, watch exercise videos or TV programs made for older people, use a stationary bike, use stretching bands, lift weights or household items such as soup cans.
- Music and dancing: Play music, talk about the music and the singer, ask what the person with Alzheimer’s was doing when the song was popular, sing or dance to well-known songs.
- Gardening: Take care of indoor or outdoor plants, plant flowers and vegetables, water the plants when needed, talk about how much the plants are growing.
Arranging Meaningful Activities: Religious
Like you, the person with Alzheimer’s may have spiritual needs. If so, you can help the person stay part of his or her faith community. This can help the person feel connected to others and remember pleasant times. Here are some tips for helping a person with Alzheimer’s disease who has spiritual needs:
- Involve the person in spiritual activities that he or she has known well. These might include worship, religious or other readings, sacred music, prayer, and holiday rituals.
- Tell people in your faith community that the person has Alzheimer’s disease. Encourage them to talk with the person and show him or her that they still care.
- Play religious or other music that is important to the person. It may bring back old memories. Even if the person with Alzheimer’s has a problem finding the right words to speak, he or she still may be able to sing songs or hymns from the past.
Visiting Family and Friends
Spending time with family and friends is important to people with Alzheimer’s disease. They may not always remember who people are, but they often enjoy the company. Here are some tips to share with people you plan to visit:
- Be calm and quiet. Don’t use a loud voice or talk to the person with Alzheimer’s as if he or she were a child.
- Respect the person’s personal space, and don’t get too close.
- Make eye contact and call the person by name to get his or her attention.
- Remind the person who you are if he or she doesn’t seem to know you. Try not to say, “Don’t you remember?”
- Don’t argue if the person is confused. Respond to the feelings that he or she expresses. Try to distract the person by talking about something different.
- Remember not to take it personally if the person doesn’t recognize you, is unkind, or gets angry. He or she is acting out of confusion.
- Have ready some kind of activity, such as a familiar book or photo album to look at. This can help if the person with Alzheimer’s is bored or confused and needs to be distracted. But be prepared to skip the activity if it is not needed.