Family caregivers often express how difficult it can be to come up with meaningful activities for their senior loved ones with Alzheimer’s and dementia. We agree, it isn’t always easy helping your loved one stay engaged, but it’s incredibly important to keep them mentally and physically active. To help family caregivers and their loved ones, we created a list of creative and therapeutic activities for seniors with dementia or Alzheimer’s.
Activity books are very popular with adults, and there are a lot of different kinds. Whether your loved one likes crosswords puzzles, sudoku, connect the dots, word searches, mazes, or coloring, there is an activity book out there for them. Activity books are a very therapeutic activity for seniors because they help relieve stress and anxiety while providing a feeling of accomplishment.
Baking Delicious Treats
The kitchen is a familiar place that holds a lot of memories, and our older loved one are often great cooks! For those that have Alzheimer’s and dementia, cooking together can help jog found memories and put a smile on their face. Also, few things smell quite as good a fresh baked goods—yum! And cooking makes for great aromatherapy, too!
Grab a foam or inflatable beach ball and toss it around with your loved one. If you have a group, you can gently throw the ball to each other. Use ball toss as a jumping off point to ask simple questions and start fun conversations.
Create a Timeline
For those who suffer from memory loss, try creating a timeline of events to help them remember what they have to do at different times of the day. To get started all you’ll need is a piece of paper, pens, pencils, glue, and photos or a camera.
Together, you can make a timeline of their daily routine! For example, start the day off with brushing teeth, getting dressed, and then going to breakfast. A timeline can be a fun activity to do together that can help seniors with Alzheimer’s and dementia remember to perform daily tasks.
Go on a Walk
Walks are perfect for getting exercise and exploring. Take your loved one to their favorite park or garden and go for a stroll. Many local parks and recreational areas have handicap accessible trails for seniors and those who need to use a walker or wheelchair.
You can easily make a fun guessing game with items around your home. To get started all you need is a paper bag. Collect items like leaves, stuffed animals, golf balls, clothespins, and more and place them inside the bag. Have your loved one reach inside and guess what’s in the bag without peeking!
Having a sense of purpose has the biggest positive impact on a person. No one wants to feel incapable or that they are a bother. To keep your loved one engaged, ask them to help with household chores. Folding clothes, sweeping, or setting the dining table together are good ways to bond with your loved one and let them know that they are capable and appreciated.
For most, getting to spend time with a cute little critter can really brighten their day. Whether you have a pet at home, visit with a therapy animal, or go on a trip to the zoo, getting to see and spend time with pets and animals uplifts the spirit and brings back memories for seniors with Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Creating and playing with playdough or slime is a great away have a fun experiment and try something new! There are a variety of household materials that can be used make non-toxic slime and playdough. So head into the kitchen with your loved one and whip up a fun science experiment together!
Putting puzzles together is a great activity for seniors and the whole family. Puzzles stimulate memory and cognitive thinking and are a great activity to do together and start conversations.If you think a large puzzle might be too challenging or time-consuming, there are a variety of smaller puzzles with bigger pieces available to meet your loved one’s needs.
If your loved one is an avid reader, you should read to them! Those with memory loss might not be able to read the literature they once loved, so cracking open a book and reading to them is a good activity to keep them stimulated and engaged with you.
Making a fun scrapbook is easy! You can have your loved one sort through old family photos or cut out and collect pretty pictures from magazines. From creating a traditional family scrapbook to making a fun book of pictures your loved one enjoys, a scrapbook is a great activity to spark memories and joy for seniors.
Sensory bins help promote focus, build fine motor skills, and are a lot of fun! Created by collecting a variety of materials and textures together in a box, sensory bins are super easy to make and portable. You and your older loved one can make a sensory bin together and customize it!
Sensory bins help promote focus, build fine motor skills, and are a lot of fun! Created by collecting a variety of materials and textures together in Some themes to consider are:
- Garden Box: For seniors with a green thumb, use herbs, seed packets, small garden tools, pebbles, mini flower pots, or gloves to make a gardening bin.
- Fishing Box: Rubber fishing lures, feathers, string, and plastic fish are great items to use to make sensory bins that are a catch!
- Jewelry Box: For the fashionable, put sparkly bracelets, rings, and necklaces in a bin to make a glittery treasure box.
- Military Box: If your loved one is a veteran, include dog tags, military medals, old pictures, and camouflaged items in a bin for them.
- Sports Box: Bring on the sports memorabilia! From hats, key chains, playing cards, and pictures, there are a lot of fun sports knick knacks to spark your loved one memory.
- Vacation Box: Who doesn’t love going on vacation? Collect items from your loved one’s favorite vacation spot like sand, seashells, pebbles, and pictures to give them a taste of summer fun.
All the world’s a stage! Music is a wonderful way to engage seniors with Alzheimer’s and dementia as it evokes memories, alleviates stress, and stimulates positive interactions. Singing is also an engaging activity that can be fun for everyone. When used correctly, music and singing can help your loved one feel more comfortable, relaxed, and happy.
To help maintain fine motor skills and increase memory, try sorting small items with your loved one. Find similar objects that your loved one enjoys, and spend time sorting them out together. Often, this activity works best when you choose things that interest your loved one, including:
- Colorful beads
- Poker chips
- Bottle caps
- Nuts and bolts
Stringing Food is for the Birds!
For avid bird watchers, stringing cheerios, fruit loops, honeycombs, or popcorn onto a piece of yarn is a great way to make a bird feeder. Strings of cereal are easy and fun to make, as you and your loved one can snack while making them, then hang the strings outside and watch the birds enjoy your hard work together.
We Help Keep Seniors with Dementia Active and Engaged
It can be hard coming up with ideas on your own, and everyone needs a break sometimes. If you feel that your loved one would benefit from having a companion who encourages them to try new activities, take them to appointments, or is just there to be company and have good conversation, we can help. We are experts at keeping seniors with Alzheimer’s and dementia active, engaged, and safe. Contact us today to start your care journey.