beyond the video

Activities for the Person with Alzheimer's

Examples of some simple activities that can help fill the day of a person with Alzheimer's.



Video summary
We can't change the diagnosis of dementia, but we can affect the quality of people's lives by involving them in activities that help them feel safe, emotionally secure and that enhance their dignity and self-esteem. Some activities are intended to provide purpose and meaning; others are purely for fun. The range of possibilities shown in these video excerpts included:

  • Music and dance – which can work when other things fail
  • Exercise, such as walking and swimming (More and more we are learning that physical exercise has mental and emotional benefits, too. Plus it helps us sleep better.)
  • Familiar tasks such as gardening, washing dishes or other housework
  • Mind-stimulating games such as trivia quizzes or
  • Scrabble
  • Have a conversation – Ask, "What do you think about . . ." especially when props are involved (flowers, hats) and you may be surprised at the answers.
  • Go on an outing. We all need breaks in our routines.

People who aren't positively stimulated may become bored, restless, anxious or depressed. On the other hand, too much stimulation can have ill effects, too. We all need quiet time. What activities bring pleasure is highly individualized, but everyone enjoys the satisfying relationships that come from interaction.

Applying the video to your own situation

  • This video emphasizes the importance of fun. Fun fuels the brain. One advantage you have over professional caregivers is that you know your loved one well. Think about activities you can do together that are likely to be pleasurable, relaxing and fun. If he can't do all parts of the activity, think about his remaining strengths and the parts he can still do. If your first idea doesn't work, try another.
  • Think about the activities that seem to bring comfort and help your loved one feel emotionally secure, and add those to your daily routine. For example, some people who can no longer read the fine print in a newspaper still enjoy going through the motions of reading it.
  • Exercise draws oxygen to our brains thereby helping us think more clearly, and getting outdoors is a mood lifter. A daily walk can provide both benefits, but don't rule out other forms of exercise you might enjoy, too.
  • Because we all like to feel useful, many people continue to enjoy familiar tasks such as housework or gardening. Think about the tasks your loved one might do that don't need to be done perfectly.
  • Many mind-stimulating games need to be adapted for people with dementia. You can find some suggestions by Kathy Laurenhue at http://www.wisernow.com/PDF/Alzheimer's%20Adaptations.pdf
  • Novelty is also fun. Consider what outings you might take together.

Adapted from: Dementia With Dignity; Eastway Communication & Media One Pty, Sydney, Australia

For More on Full Video: www.terranova.org

Beyond the Video

Think about the activities that seem to bring comfort and help your loved one feel emotionally secure, and add those to your daily routine.