Planning Activities for a Person with Alzheimer’s or Dementia

By Leslie Moore

The Alzheimer’s Association advises that activities can enhance a person’s sense of dignity and add meaning to life as well as providing a sense of engagement, usefulness and accomplishment.  If someone you love has Alzheimer’s or dementia, here are a few tips from the organization that may help.

• Keep the person’s skills and abilities in mind – Stick with activities the person has always enjoyed. Adjust, as needed, to match the person’s current abilities.

• Pay attention to what the person enjoys – Take note when the person seems happy, anxious, distracted or irritable. Some people enjoy watching sports, while others may be frightened by the fast pace or noise.

• Consider whether the person begins activities without direction – Does he or she set the table before dinner or sweep the kitchen floor mid-morning? If so, consider incorporating these activities into the daily routine

• Be aware of physical difficulties – Consider if the person tires quickly, or has difficulty seeing, hearing or performing simple movements. Avoid challenging activities.

• Focus on enjoyment, not achievement – Choose activities that build on current skills. A professional artist might become frustrated over a declining quality of work, but an amateur might enjoy new opportunities for self-expression.

• Look for favorites – A person who always enjoyed reading the newspaper may still enjoy this activity, even if he or she can no longer completely understand the content.

• Encourage involvement in daily life – Tasks like setting the table, wiping countertops and emptying wastebaskets can provide a sense of accomplishment and help the person feel like an active and valued member of the household.

• Relate activity to work life – A former  office worker might enjoy activities that involve organizing, like putting coins in a holder, helping to assemble a mailing or making a to-do list. A former farmer or gardener may take pleasure in working in the yard.

• Change activities as needed – Try to be flexible and acknowledge the person’s changing interests and abilities. Caregivers may find they have more success with certain activities at specific times of day, such as bathing and dressing in the morning.

• Make modifications to your daily routine as needed – Adjust activities to disease stages. As the disease progresses, you may want to introduce more repetitive tasks. Be prepared for the person to eventually be less active.

The experts at the Alzheimer’s Association go on to say to consider your approach with activities and remain realistic, flexible and relaxed. Help get the activity started and break down into simple steps. Helping your loved one feel needed, even if you have to assist with the difficult parts of the task, is important. Don’t forget to talk about what you’re doing, even if the person can’t respond and don’t criticize or correct small mistakes.

For more information, help and support, visit www.alz.org or call the Myrtle Beach chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association at 843-213-1516

About this writer

  • Leslie Moore

    Leslie Moore

    Leslie Moore is the editor for Strand Media Group. A 25 year resident of Pawleys Island, she is blessed with a life filled with the love of family and friends and satisfying work to do every day.

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