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Top 10 Activities for Alzheimer's Patients

Coming up with activities for Alzheimer patients or someone with dementia is important. People with Alzheimer's or dementia often need distractions and activities to fill up their day. And sometimes the caregiver needs a break. In the early stages of Alzheimer's, it is important to keep the mind going so it doesn't shut down. This is just my common sense at work and not medically proven, but it just makes sense to me.  As the disease progresses, they stop doing simple tasks and stare into space more and more. Interaction and activity become more and more important. Below are 10 different ways to distract someone with Alzheimer's. Keep in mind, if something doesn't work one day, it may the next.

  1. Puzzles - Depending on how advanced the disease is, a puzzle is a great source of distraction and a good activity for the mind. 100 pieces is a good size. Dollar stores usually carry good ones. Make sure they have a lot of colors. Even a 100 piece puzzle can be challenging if there are too many pieces that are the same color. A lot of times I need to assist with a couple pieces that have been put in wrong. It's hard to remember that she isn't building it like me so parts of it could be really backward or upside down. Once the frame is built (I keep the inside pieces to one side so it doesn't overwhelm), the middle part goes quicker. If I need to leave her unattended for a few minutes, this is a great distraction to try. I wouldn't use this for a long period of time.

  2. Walking to the mailbox - Most elderly people I know don't like to take walks. Suggesting to go get the mail makes more sense than going for a walk. Once you get to the mailbox, you can encourage them to go further by checking out something you notice (a pretty flower, your welcome sign, anything)"over there".

  3. Newspaper Jumble/Crossword - These puzzles come every day in the newspaper. We just save them for a rainy day. Or a day when a puzzle isn't working out. If you want to add interaction you can do the puzzle together. It can motivate an Alzheimer's patient to try if their caregiver is doing it with them.

  4. Coloring - Coloring is a good activity to exercise decision making with the colors and precision from staying in the lines. Also, coloring  can be a good stress reliever for the caregiver! There's just something methodical about it.

  5. Game Shows - GSN is the Game Show Network and has nothing but game shows all day long. Watch them together sometimes and encourage the answers to come in to their mind by refocusing on the television.

  6. Folding Clothes - Towels are the best thing to fold because they are the easiest. One shirt could be folded completely different than another one, but they are folded and a feeling of purpose is given.

  7. Math Problems - I print out pages of math problems online for her to figure out. It's good exercise for her mind and a quick distraction.

  8. Exercise - Slowly raising the arms a few times, bending at the knees, bending from side to side a few times is all that is needed and its good for circulation.

  9. Yahtzee - You may have to say, "roll the dice" every time but concentration will be placed on the game and not on other worries. Another game might work too, like Gold Fish or 21.

  10. Afternoon Drives - Just the change of scenery is enough sometimes to put a smile back on a worried face. I like to go up to my father's house. Sometimes Pat sits in the car and watches the buffalo, others she comes in.

The days can get long for someone with Alzheimer's or dementia and for the caregivers caring for them. Try these simple distractions whenever one is needed. Stepping back will place a new light on the situation.

If you have other suggestions and would like to share them here, let me know. I will give you credit for it so include your name!

Categorized: Alzheimer's

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