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93 Activities To Do With A Person With Dementia

By Lee Nyberg, 9:51 pm on

“I have no idea what to do with Aunt Sally.  Uncle Ed says he’d really appreciate a break for a couple of hours while we’re in town.  He says Aunt Sally’s Alzheimer’s is still manageable, but he could use a little time off for himself.”

Engaging a person with Alzheimer’s requires patience and planning.  Since a person’s cognitive ability declines as theirdementia progresses, the list includes activities of various levels in difficulty.  What might be okay for someone in middle stage Alzheimer’s will seem too simple for someone with more cognitive ability.

Here’s the list:

  1. Sing Christmas songs
  2. Suggest “tell me more” when a memory pops up
  3. Put silverware away
  4. Play dreidels
  5. Make a basket of socks or wash cloths
  6. Take a walk
  7. Fold towels
  8. Have afternoon tea
  9. Remember great inventions
  10. Ask simple trivia questions
  11. Finish Bible quotes
  12. Paint with string
  13. Reminisce about a favorite summer
  14. Roll yarn into a ball
  15. Make a birthday cake
  16. Sort playing cards by their color
  17. Make homemade ice cream
  18. Pop popcorn
  19. Make homemade applesauce
  20. Decorate paper placemats
  21. Clip coupons
  22. Sort poker chips
  23. Count buttons
  24. Use the carpet sweeper
  25. Read out loud
  26. Bake cookies
  27. Wipe off the table
  28. Make cream cheese mints
  29. Have a spelling bee
  30. Read from the Reader’s Digest
  31. Play favorite songs and sing along
  32. Take a ride to see Christmas decorations
  33. Make a cherry pie
  34. Read aloud from Ideals magazine
  35. Water houseplants
  36. Make a family tree poster
  37. Look up names in the phone book
  38. Read the daily paper out loud
  39. Ask someone with a child to visit
  40. Listen to Polka music
  41. Remember famous people
  42. Straighten out the underwear drawer
  43. Finish nursery rhymes
  44. Make peanut butter sandwiches
  45. Reminisce about the first kiss
  46. Toss bean bags in to a masking taped circle on the floor
  47. Dance
  48. Sing favorite 50’s songs
  49. String Cheerios to hang outside for birds
  50. Make a fresh fruit salad
  51. Sweep the kitchen
  52. Look at family photos
  53. Toss a ball
  54. Color pictures
  55. Make homemade lemonade
  56. Put a puzzle together
  57. Sand wood
  58. Rub in hand lotion
  59. Polish silver with a cloth
  60. Identify states and capitals
  61. Paint pictureson butcher paper
  62. Finish famous sayings
  63. Feed the ducks and the geese
  64. Mold with play dough
  65. Look at pictures in National Geographic
  66. Sort objects by color or shape
  67. Reminisce about the first day of school
  68. Play Pictionary
  69. Cut out paper dolls
  70. Bake homemade bread or biscuits
  71. Give a pedicure
  72. Wash silverware
  73. Cut out pictures from greeting cards
  74. Have a friend visit with a calm pet
  75. Fold clothes
  76. Put bird feed out for the birds
  77. Sew sewing cards
  78. Put coins in a jar
  79. Read classic short stories
  80. Cut out pictures from magazines
  81. Force bulbs for winter blooming
  82. Make Christmas cards
  83. Write a letter to a family member
  84. Dress in your favorite football team’s color
  85. Make peanut butter and birdseed coated pinecones and hang in trees for birds
  86. Trace and cut out holiday pictures (bells, holly, stars)
  87. Take care of fish tank
  88. Cut up used paper for scratch paper
  89. Name the presidents
  90. Give a manicure
  91. Make paper butterflies
  92. Make hand print reindeer decorations with washable paint and sharpies
  93. Arrange fresh flowers

Check with the primary caregiver for favorite activities and the best times of day for engagement. Take related supplies with you to your loved one’s home.  Try an activity for 10-15 minutes at first, and see how the engagement is going.  Keep the situation light and easy, backing off if an activity seems too difficult or causes frustration.  Changing to another type of activity if your loved one becomes restless, such as from reminiscing about a first day of school (thinking work) to a walk out side (physical stimulation) can help the engagement continue without wearing out your loved one. If you’re needed to help distract him/her from “sundowning” in the early evening, choose a soothing activity, like folding clothes or sorting objects, while listening to favorite music at a low level.

Be flexible and remember, music is the gold standard for an uplifting and enjoyable activity.

 

Photo Credit: Buttons, by Tony Hisgetthttps://www.flickr.com/photos/hisgett/504354910/in/photolist-LyX9j-51NYxW-5YKd7r-5RtsCr-km1PMr-5sJzst-GfVPG-9EeKer-n2iXG-xGejq-4Dy5d1-yHYo-cfv5qj-51Ayx5-9r4F8k-5cP2j5-5SHntv-5rufzK-tCjPm-5GCeGg-e1o1o-742jAC-49eBQk-dggnmV-a36q6M-8EFaV-age9E-5qwPSA-dw9Lm-b3XekT-4qB8Cn-5gJ73A-jhS3Ep-NNeTN-dSNaph-p5vp-bkPas-NPRvA-5RtsCX-99WJTJ-9o1UN2-iMvH-4ktFLz-uQMG-4S6Kvo-8dK7h9-8YrLLZ-6a6Qfa-7vBn9x-arBMvL