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For Caregivers

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For Caregivers: activity ideas

Recreational

Take a nature walk. Go to a well-loved location. Garden, weed, pick flowers. Swim. Fish. Paint. Walk the dog. Pet animals. Get a manicure. Shop at a small boutique (the less noise and activity, the better). Attend a small-scale farmer's market. Ride bikes on a safe, quiet path

Investigate what a person does for fun and relaxation, and modify that activity to a person’s individual capabilities. If a person loves tennis but can no longer play the game, watch a tennis game together or simply try hitting a tennis ball against the wall. Whatever leisurely activity you decide to do, always take safety precautions and supervise the person. 

Social

Form coffee groups. Go out to lunch. Attend family events. Help take care of children. Go on a picnic together. Watch a parade from an area that’s not too crowded. Attend religious worship

Large groups can be overwhelming and confusing to people with Alzheimer’s, but by all means, don’t give up on social time. Schedule small gatherings and scale down larger events to make them manageable. For instance, a family reunion can be structured so that the person with Alzheimer’s only sees two or three people at a time. And it never hurts to tell people in advance what they should expect when visiting with your loved one.

Creative

Draw. Paint. Try pottery. Sing. Dance. Play a few keys on the piano. Make a scrapbook and tell stories about the pictures.

Look for creative outlets that the person is comfortable with or gets excited about. Feel free to try new activities, but be respectful of a person’s interests if you’re turned down. Someone who has never done an arts and crafts activity probably won’t want to start just because he/she has Alzheimer’s. Likewise, an artist may be unwilling to paint if he/she is not longer satisfied with the results.
 

Cultural

Go to museums. Attend concerts (outdoor band shells work well for short attention spans). Listen to lectures. Try new restaurants (ordering for them helps alleviate the stress). Go to a school play or church pageant. Attend an outdoor art fair. Read familiar poetry out loud. Sing well-loved songs together. Decorate the house for holidays.

People with Alzheimer’s usually enjoy the same forms of entertainment they have always enjoyed as adults. They can absorb and appreciate very sophisticated sensory experiences well into the late stages, even if they aren’t able to process the experience or talk about it. If you plan an outing, make sure you supervise the person, and be wary of crowded, overwhelming places that could over-stimulate or confuse the person.

Quiet

Fish. Watch kids on a playground. Listen to a person’s favorite music. Watch old musicals. Browse through a catalog. Watch sports. Watch birds. Go on a drive. Stroll through a garden.

Time together doesn’t need to be spent talking or doing something. Sometimes, quiet togetherness is the best connection for both caregiver and the person with Alzheimer's. Plus, passive activities lend themselves well to every stage of Alzheimer’s, as they require very few cognitive abilities.

Career-Related

Set up a desk or workbench with familiar tools (no power tools or sharp devices!). Open the mail. Participate in Alzheimer’s research. Creatively adapt volunteer work.

Everyone wants to feel needed and useful. For many people, working gave them a sense of self-worth. Whether the person was a plumber or a housewife, work activities can be modified to be safe and engaging.

Task-Related

Prepare parts of a meal. Wash dishes while you dry. Set the table. Open jars.
Rake leaves. Wipe the counter. Stir cookie batter. Help you fold sheets. Wash the car. Weed the garden. Groom pets.

Involve the person with Alzheimer's in some of your everyday activities. Break tasks into simple steps, and let them know how much you appreciate the help. If necessary, show the person exactly what you’d like them to do and let them repeat it. Above all, help them feel needed.