Sunday, February 17, 2013

Activities for Alzheimer’s Patients

Alzheimer's disease  (AD) affects millions of people. The destruction of brain cells affects memory and behavior, and it is ultimately fatal. 

Although there is no cure, there are treatments that can help the brain function better, strengthen the patient's memory, and slow the progression of the disease.

Physical Activities

There are many activities people with Alzheimer's can do. Physical activity is a very important part of anyone's life; it is especially important if you suffer with degeneration problems of the mind. Physical activities help with blood pressure, proper blood flow, blood sugar, weight gain, and keeping the mind active and sharp. Physical activity for Alzheimer's patients doesn't have to be strenuous. You can help your loved one get involved with swimming, shuffle board or yoga. There are exercise classes at places like the YMCA or senior centers and senior facilities, or you can simply take daily walks around the neighborhood.


Hobbies have long been enjoyed by many people. They can be relaxing, as well as an active part of your life. If you suffer from Alzheimer's, you can try to stay active with your favorite hobby or get started with a new one. Gardening is a great hobby that helps you to use your mind as well as your physical body, which is good for exercise. Try to stay interested in reading if you like to read. You can do this by going to the library regularly to pick out new books, or go to a local bookstore. If you like to draw or paint, get the supplies you need and set up a space at home to do it.

In the early stages, if you like to fix things or work on cars, create an area where you can continue to work on your hobby. Whatever the hobby is, continue working with it so you can stay active.  However, there comes a time when using tools, especially electric tools, standing on ladders can create unsafe situations.

Mental Activities

Keeping active will not only help keep your mind strong, but it can help ward off problems such as depression. Mental activities can include getting involved in doing such things as number puzzles, or word puzzles in the newspaper. Stay involved in many different mental tasks and encourage yourself to accomplish these tasks on your own. Household tasks that you should encourage yourself to do include paying your own bills. Figure out the payments then mail them out. Keep trying to buy your own groceries so you can figure out money issues and how to make general payments. You can also take time to work on simple math problems, as well as buy games involving numbers. Crossword puzzles, Sudoku, actual puzzles and working on the computer (should be monitored in some cases), doing activities that stretch the mind, all help keep your mind sharper longer. Or you can help your grandchildren with their math homework. And to keep yourself feeling worthy and needed, let your family know that you are still there for them, even if you just offer a shoulder to lean on.

*Some people keep a puzzle in progress out that they and their spouse, caretaker or even just visitors can help the AD patient work on.


Reading to Alzheimer's patients is extremely important because it sparks conversation and keeps them engaged. The same is true of flipping through books, magazines and photo albums. Labeling photos that are hanging or standing on display around the house often helps patients with their, at least temporary, memory.


Engaging in activities that spark laughter---watching a comedy shows and movies or listening to the radio---is key to the happiness an Alzheimer's patient. During the course of daily activities, try being silly or teasing the person a bit.

Hands On

Although Alzheimer's patients may not be able to engage in all of the things they once did, and the activities and scope will diminish as time goes on, there are a lot of ways they can (and should) keep active. Working in the garden and yard is very therapeutic. Consider weeding, planting and transplanting and raking as possible ways to keep Alzheimer's active. Simple household chores are an option, too, such as washing windows, folding laundry and sorting items like nails, cans or buttons.  Once they have moved into the moderate stage… no hammers, saws, scissors or power tools


Cooking ‘with’ Alzheimer's patients poses an excellent and enjoyable challenge. Seek out recipes for soups, cookies and cakes as well as salads and instant puddings. Tailor the recipes to the patient's tolerance level to make it an enjoyable activity.  Again, cooking becomes more difficult as their condition worsens and they should not be using the stove, oven or sharp knives without supervision.

Social Activities

Being social actually helps prevent AD and also helps slow the progress of the disease.  Enrolling Alzheimer's patients in activities, clubs and events for and with other AD patients or with friends and family with similar interests and hobbies, especially if they shared those activities before the onset of the disease, is one of the best things for the AD sufferer as well as their caretakers and family.  It gives everyone a break and some fun time away from each other. Senior Daycare, as it has been dubbed, has become as prevalent, popular and often necessary as child and doggie daycare.


Patients with AD may pose increasing risks when driving, not only to themselves, but also to others, as their illness progresses. Yet the ability to drive may help preserve the quality of their lives in the early stages.

If AD patients can accept the loss of driving privileges voluntarily, as their condition worsens, it is better for everyone involved, patient, caregiver, family and doctors.

Pets and Therapy Pets

A family pet or therapy trained pet can be a great companion and of great comfort to those suffering from Alzheimer's and dementia as long as they are one the those that take their frustration out on the animals.  Most AD patients love the companionship and love give my a pet or therapy animal, but seem tend to yell at them, pat them much too hard, try to keep them from leaving their side even for a moment or feed them foods, especially snakes, that make the dogs sick.  If you have a family pet or access of a therapy pet or are thinking about getting one, make sure to monitor the behavior of the AD patient and be firm, like with those that exhibit inappropriate sexual behavior, when responding to their actions.

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Pet Therapy

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Pets are way better than Therapy! 

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