A multitude of research studies have come out over the years, touting the benefits of keeping seniors with memory disorders physically and mentally active. But, coming up with activities to keep a person with Alzheimer's busy and engaged with life can be a tricky task for a caregiver.
There are a few things that you should keep in mind when considering various pastimes: First, as your loved one begins to forget who they are, it's all the more important that you remember, and try to present them with meaningful activities that echo their previous interests and talents.
It's also important to remember that, for many people with Alzheimer's and other memory-altering diseases, their desire to accomplish things doesn't vanish. Activities that can give an elderly loved one a sense of accomplishment may help stave off anxiety and depression.
Easily-modifiable activities that may be good for seniors with Alzheimer's
- Stick to simple pleasures.
Keeping things simple and straightforward is often the best course of action when coming up with activities for people with Alzheimer's. Going to a local park to feed the birds and fish is an easy task that may be very fun for a person with Alzheimer's. You can also take turns reading a favorite book aloud. This can be an easy way to encourage a senior to exercise their mind while giving them the pleasure of reading a beloved book.
- Listen to music.
Research has shown that listening to music can help a person with Alzheimer's remember events, people, and places from their past. Additionally, music can be a way to get a senior moving through dance or song. Music can be themed to match your needs; sing along activities, upbeat motivating tunes, or relaxing sounds may all play a part in your day.
- Cook and clean.
You can turn mundane, daily tasks into activities that a person with Alzheimer's can help with. Peeling, shucking, mashing, and mixing are often safe enough to allow your loved one to feel useful. Even if they just help with measuring or retrieving ingredients, having a senior help you cook a family recipe can be a fun way for both of you to spend some time together. An elderly loved one might also be able to help you do things around the house like dusting, gardening, or folding laundry.
- Work up a sweat.
Exercise provides countless benefits to all seniors, regardless of whether or not they have Alzheimer's. Simple workouts can consist of everything from talking a walk around the block or finding some seated chair exercises, to taking a yoga-for-seniors class.
- Play a game.
While you probably don't want to start a game of Risk with your elderly loved one, it's possible to make an entertaining, personal game out of things lying around the house. Sorting through old family photos is a good way to help an elderly loved one remember special events and people from their past. In fact, sorting of anything is often an activity that can be enjoyed and feel purposeful; pull out a button collection, coins, yarns. You can even turn a routine trip to the grocery store into a scavenger hunt where you and your loved one search for particular items on a list.
Devoting time to helping other people can provide immense satisfaction to both you and your elderly loved one. Volunteering can involve something as simple as collecting things like school supplies, toys, canned goods, etc., and taking them to a local shelter or food bank. Seniors who can't leave the house could help by sorting, wrapping, or taking inventory of collected goods.
These activities will require varying levels of patience on the part of the caregiver. A loved one with Alzheimer's will not be able to perform tasks perfectly, if at all, and seniors are likely to get frustrated is an activity is too difficult. It will take constant trial and error to create and modify activities to meet an elder's shifting capabilities.