Alzheimer’s disease typically starts out with mild memory loss which increases over time. While there is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s, there are things that you can do to help a patient with Alzheimer’s stimulate their brain, and possibly even slow the progression of the disease. Having a regular set of activities to look forward to can help make your visits with your loved one, whether they be at home or in an assisted living community, more enjoyable for you both. Here are a few suggestions to get you started.
Activities with Alzheimer’s Patients
Do something creative. Often people let their hobbies slide during the busier seasons of life. Think about those things your loved once enjoyed. Perhaps Mom used to do watercolor or Dad used to enjoy doodling comics. Bring some simple supplies and encourage them to try it out again! If they are reluctant, turn your request into a teachable moment by asking them to share their former passion with a young family member.
With or without Alzheimer’s, the past tends to get a bit foggy as we age. Refresh your loved one’s memories often by looking at photo albums with them and talking about things you both remember. Encourage them to get together for companionship with family and friends at least once a week. Maintaining friendships can be difficult as we get older and less mobile, but it is well worth the effort to help your loved one keep those connections strong. If you have family videos, watch them together!
Play music. Many studies have demonstrated the brain-boosting benefits of listening to music. Play Grandpa’s old favorites, or introduce him to something new. If your parent is a music-lover, an inexpensive outdoor concert is a wonderful way to spend an evening together.
Accomplish something. Ask your loved one what they would like to get done and try to tackle a bit with them each week. Maybe they have photo albums to organize, closets to clean out, or a garden full of weeds. Spending just a few minutes on a project on a regular basis can yield a wonderful sense of accomplishment and engagement.
Reading is perhaps the easiest way to stimulate the mind. Bring your loved one new reading material regularly if they have a hard time getting out to the library or bookstore. A fresh stack of books and magazines is inspiring and helps to pass the time when you cannot be with them. If reading is too tiring for them, perhaps someone else can read to them on a regular basis. This is a good way to get the young readers in your family involved in caregiving! Ask them to share a book they enjoy with Grandma, perhaps reading a chapter to her each time they visit. They get to practice their skills; Grandma gets to hear a story and bond with her grandchild. Audiobooks are another great option for when you can’t be there in person.