Life-Enriching Activities for Seniors with Dementia or Alzheimer’s

Author: Aaron Nelson

It can be a bit more challenging to help a patient with Alzheimer’s continue to enjoy things they once enjoyed before this life-altering diagnosis. After all, we all need a sense of community and fellowship with friends in order to maintain a sense of well-being and peace. While it is more difficult to do the same things, it’s not impossible. Here are a few ideas to keep your senior with Alzheimer’s thriving.

If you are a caregiver within the family, it may be a little easier to help your senior loved one find activities they enjoy, simply because you already know them a bit better than most. Here are some ideas to help enrich the life of someone with dementia or Alzheimer’s:

Discover what the best time of the day is for your loved one. If they typically like to get up early but start losing steam later on during the afternoon, you may want to schedule any activities around that schedule. For instance, take an early morning walk together and then find an enjoyable activity you can do together.

Be present while looking to the past. With dementia and Alzheimer’s, long-term memory is usually much better than short-term memory. They may not know what they asked you two minutes ago, but they can sit for hours and reminisce about things that happened decades ago. Perhaps they would love talking about a certain period of time, people or places, or the career they once had. If they were a teacher before, they may enjoy drawing or painting as a way to communicate. If they were a musician, certain bands may spark nostalgia and get them talking, and if they raised children in the home, perhaps they just would like to fold laundry and talk about home life from years past. Whatever it is, finding activities that connect them with their past is often very helpful for their well-being!

Remember that asking for their help or letting them know they are needed does wonders for their self-esteem! We all need self-worth, and dementia has a way of eating away at it, especially among seniors. If they aren’t able to do an entire activity, they could at least help with it. For instance, if they loved baking cookies, perhaps now they could help stir ingredients together. Tasks that involve sorting items are often a good way to keep their minds occupied as well.

  • Let the senior have all the time they need to go at their own pace with any activity.
  • Offer support and guidance, rather than taking over or doing an activity yourself.
  • Offer instructions one small step at a time so they don’t feel overwhelmed by information.
  • Remember — the activity is more important than the result.
  • Stay flexible and easily able to adapt and change. This will lower the potential for frustration.

Stay focused on the time you are spending together, talking through each activity and any memories associated with them. If your loved one isn’t enjoying the task at hand, perhaps just talking about things would be more enjoyable. You can attempt the activity again at a later time.

Our team of professionals in dementia care has many ideas that can help you if you have a loved one with dementia or Alzheimer’s. We can help you as a caretaker keep them engaged in the world around them and although you might have to do it differently, you can still have very meaningful time and conversations with your loved one!

Contact us today for more tips on caring for those with cognitive decline.

Home Helpers of the Fox Cities is a locally-owned, trusted home health care agency and offers quality, compassionate senior in-home care services including home care assistance, personal care, companion care, respite care, 24-hour care and live-in care, Alzheimer's & dementia care, Parkinson's care, stroke recovery as well as homemaker services in Appleton, Oshkosh, Neenah, Grand Chute, Menasha, Little Chute, Greenville, and Kaukauna, Wisconsin.

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