When an older adult has Alzheimer’s disease or a similar form of dementia, engaging in productive activities can help them feel empowered and independent. Both are vital to adults who can sometimes feel less in control of their everyday life.
As the senior requires more assistance with the activities of daily life, they may experience depression and a loss of interest in the world around them. By structuring their days to include meaningful activity, you may be able to help them feel positive and successful.
For people with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia, the positive emotions created by meaningful experiences linger long after memories of the activity are lost.
Activities to Engage a Senior with Dementia
Avoid childlike activities that may leave a senior feeling diminished or demeaned. Instead, offer genuinely productive activities and tasks. Remember to focus on the process and not the outcome.
This list will help you come up with ideas to work into your senior loved one’s weekly schedule:
- Sing along to music from their youth or young adulthood. That can evoke happy memories from a time long ago.
- Assist with household chores that don’t require abstract thought, like folding laundry, clearing the table, unpacking groceries, sweeping the kitchen floor, or dusting.
- Complete simple art projects, such as painting a wooden picture frame or decorating a birdhouse.
- Engage in physical activities, like chair yoga, walking, and stretching exercises.
- Create a scrapbook with old photos, precut decorative borders, and stickers.
- Plant and tend to an herb garden or container flower garden.
- Cut out sugar cookies and place them on a baking pan.
- Care for the family pet, especially a dog or cat.
- Go birdwatching or take a nature hike at a local park. Many have accessible walking paths for those with mobility challenges.
- Watch one of the senior’s favorite old movies, whether it is streamed on an oldies channel or borrowed from the library.
- Work a puzzle with a grandchild or great-grandchild. Just be mindful of the amount and size of the pieces.
- Look through old family photos and organize them into albums.
Another way to help an older adult with dementia feel productive is to create an activity box or two that is unique to their life history and interests. These help them reconnect with times in their life when they probably felt productive.
Creating Activity Boxes for Adults with Dementia
As you plan your activity boxes, think about your senior loved one’s career and favorite hobbies. If they were a school teacher, for example, what tools and supplies did they use? As long as those supplies are safe for someone with dementia, you can include them in their activity box.
Keep in mind that these don’t actually have to be a box. You can use a tote bag or plastic container depending upon the size of the supplies you plan to put in it. In fact, a tote bag or plastic container might make it easier to take an activity box with you while waiting at an appointment.
Live With Purpose at Sunrise Senior Living
At Sunrise Senior Living communities, our Reminiscence Neighborhoods are designed to provide comfort and security for people living with Alzheimer’s or another form of memory loss. An important part of that is our eight signature Live With Purpose activities programs, which bring residents together to engage, enjoy, express, learn, and grow. Watch this video or call a community near you to learn more!