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What Kinds of Activities Are Appropriate for People with Alzheimer's?

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Updated March 08, 2008

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Find activities that help your loved one feel useful.

Photo © Microsoft
Question: What Kinds of Activities Are Appropriate for People with Alzheimer's?
Answer: Plan activities that both of you enjoy and that you can adapt to your loved one's current abilities. Good examples include walking, taking a drive, gardening, doing housework, looking at pictures or magazines, watching movies, baking cookies, listening to music, singing, dancing, and playing cards or other games.

If your loved one can no longer participate in an activity like he or she used to, remember that following rules are no longer important. For example, if your relative wants to help with household chores, let him fold some laundry, and don't worry about whether he folds things correctly. What's important is that he's participating in something that makes him feel useful.

Likewise, if your loved one enjoys playing cards, but she can't follow the rules of the card game anymore, try having her sort a deck of cards into colors and suits instead; it's not important to try to play pinochle, for example, the way it's supposed to be played.

Keeping your loved one active is good for both of you, both physically and emotionally. It helps you continue to share enjoyable experiences together, and it can reduce the frequency of difficult behaviors such as agitation and wandering. If you can tap into an activity your loved one enjoys and offer it in a way that's not overwhelming, you have a good chance of success.

Sources:

Activities at home: Planning the day for the person with dementia. Alzheimer's Association. 2005. http://www.alz.org/national/documents/brochure_activities.pdf

Alzheimer's therapeutic activities. Fisher Center for Alzheimer's Research Foundation. 2007. http://www.alzinfo.org/alzheimers-treatment-therapeutic.asp

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