Fall River Jewish Home

Activities to Do With a Loved One Living With Dementia

Caregivers in Massachusetts and across the country often struggle to find meaningful activity to fill the day for a family member living with Alzheimer’s disease.

While many caregivers take advantage of adult day programs at their local Jewish Community Center or at the Alzheimer’s Association, many aren’t able to participate full-time. That leaves a few days a week and weekends to develop structured activity that helps support a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia.


Exercise can help to calm anxiety and act as a stress buster for both the caregiver and the care recipient. Here are a few easy ways to incorporate a little cardio in to your day.

•          Take a stroll around the block or the courtyard.

•          Pop in a simple, easy-to-follow stretching DVD.

•          Work out by performing seated exercises. Several nonprofits (http://www.sitandbefit.org/products_store) offer DVDs for purchase that may help.

Sing & Dance

Music therapy has well documented therapeutic benefits. It provides another form of activity that benefits you and your family member.

•          Find a CD of music from your loved one’s time. If they are able, encourage them to dance and shuffle around a bit with you. They will not only benefit from the activity, but from the music of their generation, too.

•          If you or your loved one has grandchildren, try to involve them in your dance activities. That makes it a little more fun for everyone!

Back to Nature

Gardening is another form of life enrichment that has shown to be of benefit to those with Alzheimer’s disease, especially if gardening was one of their hobbies. Some easy nature and garden activities include:

•          Plant a stand up bed, container garden or window box. A raised garden is easier for older adults to plant and maintain. Remember to use only plants that are non-toxic if ingested. This list of toxic plants (http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/earthkind/landscape/poisonous-plants-resources/common-poisonous-plants-and-plant-parts/) can help you figure out what to avoid. Having a garden they help to maintain will provide productive and meaningful activity almost every day.

•          If your loved one is able, make bird watching and nature walks a part of your routine. You can take pictures of birds, plants and flowers that you find and look them up online or in books to learn more about them.

Arts & Crafts

One of the best parts of arts and crafts projects is the wide variety of ability levels they can encompass. From simply putting photos in an album to creating digital scrapbooks, there is a project out there for everyone. Ideas include:

•          Watercolor painting with a simple set of brushes, paints, and watercolor paper.

•          Print some digital pictures you have taken and put together an old-fashioned photo album.

•          Create scrapbooks for different events or seasons.

•          Create something simple from clay or play dough.

•          String beads together to make a necklace or a bracelet.

•          Bake cut-out cookies for whatever holiday or event is next on the calendar, and decorate them with frosting and sprinkles.

Whatever activity you choose, keep in mind that familiar and simple ones are best. They are easier for your loved one to complete and require less planning and work on your end.

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