Alzheimer’s disease affects more than 3 million people in the United States per year. The progressive brain disease generally begins affecting people who are in their 60’s, with the most common symptoms being memory loss that affects:
- daily life
- planning and problem-solving
- completing familiar tasks
- remembering time or place
- mood or personality
Although, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, certain medications can help slow the progression of the disease and activities can contribute to living an enriching and fulfilling life. Based on our experience, we recommend the following activities, which we provide to our residents, for those who are living with Alzheimer’s disease.
This stimulating activity can help regulate sleep patterns and improve mood. Get creative with exercise activities; focus on activities that are fun or will peak their interest. For example, some of our activities include balloon tennis, ball-toss, seated exercise, and outside trips, which all contribute to the well-being of those with dementia.
A personal favorite to do with our residents. Simply asking about them about their childhood, holiday traditions, careers and family members can evoke wonderful long-term memories for them to reminisce. People living with dementia often have an easier time recalling their long-term memories. This simple act makes them feel like they have something to offer in a discussion and can also help to improve their mood.
- Exploring nature
An activity that can be paired with exercise, like gardening or walking on a nature path, but bird watching and simply sitting outside for a breath of fresh air can a be extremely comforting to those who enjoyed spending time outdoors, in the past.
We’ve seen music reach almost every resident in some way. Music can soothe, evoke emotion and memories, stimulate the mind and bring on singing and toe tapping! I’ve seen some residents who are non-verbal hum or even sing along to music.
Although I’ve provided a list of our top activities to help guide you, there are many more that can help those living with Alzheimer’s to live a full and purpose filled life. As dementia practitioner and educator, Teepa Snow once said, “Those with dementia may have a different brain that works much differently than ours, but if we link our own hands together, we can overcome anything.”
About the Author
Lauren Haines, interim life enrichment director, has worked at CLV for nearly 10 years working with residents with cognitive impairment and their families to provide person centered care for those living with Alzheimer’s disease.