Doing things we enjoy gives us pleasure and adds meaning to our lives. People with Alzheimer’s disease need to be active and do things they enjoy. However, it’s not easy for them to plan their days and do different tasks.
People with Alzheimer’s may have trouble deciding what to do, which could make them worried or withdrawn, or they may have trouble starting tasks. Remember, the person is not being lazy, they might just need help doing an activity.
Plan activities that a person with Alzheimer’s enjoys into their daily routine, and try to do them at a similar time each day. They can be a part of the activity or just watch. Here are things you can do to help the person enjoy the activity:
- 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 they do the activity alone or needs help.
- Make sure they feel successful and has fun.
- Let him or her watch if that is more enjoyable.
A person with Alzheimer’s disease can do different activities each day to keep the day interesting and fun. Here are some daily activities people with Alzheimer’s may enjoy:
- 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, carry out a Seated Dance session, use a stationary bike, use stretching bands, or throw a soft ball or balloon back and forth.
- 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, attend a concert or musical program.
- Pets: Feed, groom, walk, sit and hold a pet.
- 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.
- Visiting with children: Play a simple board game, read stories or books, visit family members who have small children, walk in the park or around schoolyards, go to school events, talk about fond memories from childhood.
People in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease may still enjoy going out to places they enjoyed in the past. For example, the person might enjoy going to a favourite park, shopping centre, museum, or theatre. Keep going on these outings as long as you are comfortable with them.
Plan Ahead for Outings
Here are some tips to make outings fun:
- Plan outings for the time of day when the person with Alzheimer’s is at his or her best.
- Keep outings from becoming too long. Take note of how tired the person gets after a certain amount of time. Bring the person home before he or she becomes overtired.
- Use a business-size card to tell others about the person’s disease. Sharing this information with store clerks or restaurant staff can make outings more comfortable for everyone. For example, the card could say “My caree has Alzheimer’s disease. He might say or do things that are unexpected. Thank you for your understanding.”
Participating in Spiritual Activities
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 their 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.
Visits from 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 who 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 recognise 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.For more activity ideas click here!