Top Ten Reasons Why Alzheimer's Patients Need Activities

By AGIS Staff, AGIS Network

Most Alzheimer's patients, until the final stages of .the disease, are able to participate in some pleasurable activities. Because each Alzheimer's patient is unique, he or she will respond to activities according to their levels of mental and physical abilities and personal interests. Some Alzheimer's patients have memory impairment but are physically adept. Others suffer from memory impairment and physical disabilities - reduced vision and hearing, back pain, stiff joints, tremors, erratic equilibrium, lack of coordination, muscle weakness, or other difficulties. There is still a need for simple, moderate and moderately complex activities, some of which should be appropriate for your Alzheimer's family member.

Alzheimer's patients benefit greatly from participation in activities, especially those they enjoy. Not surprisingly, caregivers who plan, organize, encourage and share these activities enjoy many of the same benefits. You may have to stretch your imagination to find appropriate pleasurable activities, or you may discover simple, fun-filled things to do right under your nose. Following are some of the benefits your Alzheimer's family member may experience from successful activities.

  • Enjoy happier daily life
  • Increase feelings of self-worth
  • Enhance and maintain general health
  • Maintain memory
  • Enhance and maintain communication skills
  • Improve and increase personal relationships
  • Preserve family history
  • Strengthen and maintain muscles
  • Reduce muscle and joint pain
  • Increase and maintain flexibility

More Benefits

  • Reduce nervous tension and behaviors
  • Decrease pacing and restlessness
  • Decrease repetitive behaviors
  • Decrease wandering increase nighttime sleep

The best time to do an activity with your Alzheimer's family member is after breakfast and after lunch because this is when he or she will be the least tired. The activities should include exercise, arts and crafts, household chores, self-care and outings.

Your Alzheimer's Activity Planner

Begin by planning a weekly activity sheet and simple lesson plans very much like a school teacher would do. Many of these forms may be printed out for free from the Internet. On your daily activity planner, write in the name and time of the activity. For each activity, make a quick lesson plan for each. This plan will include the title, your objective, materials needed, the procedure and feedback on how the activity turned out.

Many of the Alzheimer's activities will certainly be by trial and error. Keep them simple and allow the person to decide how long to participate.

The Main Activities Alzheimer's Patients Need


Ideas for exercise include walking in the park, gardening, throwing a beach ball or a balloon and playing Simon says. A simple weight to lift may be made out of a broom handle and a small bag of sand. For more advanced Alzheimer's, you may have to do some passive exercise by moving their limbs for them, but exercise is still important.

Arts and Crafts

The list is endless of things to do in arts and crafts. The main thing is to adapt the Alzheimer's activity to their ability and interests. Some may enjoy doing a painting while others would enjoy something as simple as tying knots in a plastic grocery bag. Quilt squares are good for sensory and tactile variety. A rubbing is a simple craft that turns out well and is easy. Place some leaves under a piece of construction paper and have him or her rub with a crayon held sideways. You may have to do some hand -over - hand to guide their hand.

Household Chores

Anything you can do to encourage your family member with Alzheimer's to help around the house will greatly improve their self esteem and feeling of self worth. Perhaps they can wash the dishes with you helping and monitoring. Older people with Alzheimer's usually like to break up green beans or arrange letters and pieces of paper. Most can wipe off their dinner place mat even if you have to do hand over hand to guide their hand.

Self Care

Instead of completely doing all of the work when they are getting dressed, encourage them to do as much as possible. Encourage them to tie their own shoes, put on their sweater and brush their hair. Sometimes if you start them out with your hand over their hand while brushing their hair, they will end up doing it independently. Such things as hair brushing, back rubs, manicures are excellent sensory exercises.


Most people with Alzheimer's love to ride in a car so get outside and go somewhere whenever you can. A wheelchair ride down the street once or twice a day is a wonderful way to get fresh air, look at houses, flowers and greet neighbors.

If the Alzheimer's patient still has their long-term memory, they can participate in many things such as nostalgic scrapbook making. But if their long term memory is greatly diminished and they don't recognize people from the past, then you must help them make new friends and do simple things that may seem new to them. A recent example of this premise is the experience of retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. Her husband has Alzheimer's and does not recognize her or any of his family. He has a new sweetheart at the Alzheimer's facility and is as happy as a 16 year old in love. So you can see how people with Alzheimer's go from the present and move forward with their memory.

Look into a good adult day care center where they do activities. You can get apply for a grant for your family member with Alzheimer's to attend at least one or two days per week. Physical and mental activities for the person with Alzheimer's just about always will be a positive thing and sometimes can mean a longer and happier life for them.

©2008 AGIS Network


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