Activities for Kids to Do with a Grandparent Who Has Alzheimer’s Disease

Activities for Kids to Do with a Grandparent Who Has Alzheimer’s Disease

Dear Donna,

My children had a great relationship with their grandfather until he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

After he moved to assisted living, their relationship began to deteriorate. Every time my kids visit him, they complain that they are bored and constantly ask when they can go home.

I want my children to spend time with their grandfather, but I am struggling to make their time together enjoyable.

What are some fun activities that kids can do with a grandparent who has Alzheimer’s disease?


Yolanda in Holland, MI


Activities for Kids to Do with a Grandparent Who Has Alzheimer’s


Dear Yolanda,

It can be difficult for grandchildren to connect with loved ones after a move to assisted living. Alzheimer’s makes finding activities that both kids and their grandparents can enjoy even more complicated. But the relationship between children and their grandparents is important.

For children, spending time with their grandparents exposes them to new wisdom and knowledge, as well as a different perspective.

Relationships also become more important for adults with Alzheimer’s disease. Spending time with grandchildren can make them feel important and bring them the sense of connectedness that they often lose as their disease progresses.

Here are a few activities that can be fun for both children and older loved ones with Alzheimer’s.


Activities Kids and Grandparents Can Do Together



Gardening is a common past time for older adults, and it can be highly beneficial for people with Alzheimer’s disease.

Many older adults lose their sense of purpose after they are diagnosed with the disease. Gardening can help bring it back by giving them something to take care of.

Gardening is an activity that adults with Alzheimer’s and kids can do together. Your senior loved one will enjoy being able to pass their knowledge about gardening to their grandkids. In turn, your kids will learn a new skill. Kids and grandparents can even decorate the pots they are going to use.


Bird Watching

Bird watching is another great activity that kids and their grandparents can both enjoy. Purchase some birdhouses—you can even purchase plain houses and decorate them together.

Put birdfeed in the houses and set them up around the yard. You will all have a great time watching the birds eat. You can even purchase a bird reference guide and watch as your loved ones try to identify the birds in the yard.


Create a Family Tree

A family tree can be an excellent opportunity for children to create memories with their grandparents. It can also be a learning experience for your children to see where they came from.

For adults with Alzheimer’s, it can be a great way for them to reminisce. This can be therapeutic and stimulate their memory.

Get a poster board and have them draw out their family tree. Gather family photos and place them on the tree. Include names and birthdays.


Memory Care at Heritage Senior Communities


Many memory care programs—like the one at Appledorn’s Heritage Senior Communities location—offer a variety of opportunities for kids to do activities with grandparents.

Contact us to learn more about specialized dementia care at Appledorn Assisted Living Center South.

I hope this helps you come up with fun activities for your kids to enjoy with their grandfather. You won’t regret encouraging a relationship between your kids and their grandfather. Your kids will be thankful you did as well.



4 Repetitive Tasks That Help Decrease Alzheimer’s Agitation

4 Repetitive Tasks That Help Decrease Alzheimer’s Agitation

Repetition is a common behavior among adults with Alzheimer’s disease. Those affected may repeat words, questions, or activities. This is their attempt to comfort themselves when they are feeling agitated.

Adults with Alzheimer’s disease, especially those in the later stages of the disease, often lose their sense of the world. Their disease causes them to become confused, and they start looking for ways to alleviate their discomfort. Repetition can provide this relief.

Repetitive tasks can be highly beneficial for people with Alzheimer’s disease. They can improve self-esteem and give them a sense of purpose and normalcy—things they often lose as their disease progresses. Here are 4 repetitive activities that can help decrease Alzheimer’s agitation.


4 Repetitive Tasks That Can Help Decrease Alzheimer’s Agitation


  1. Knitting and Crocheting

Knitting and crocheting can be very calming for adults with Alzheimer’s disease. Not only do they give them something to focus on, but they allow them to be creative. Provide them with a ball of yarn and make sure to give them large needles and hooks so they can easily see what they are doing.  Your loved one will be excited to show you their creations.

  1. Folding Laundry

Folding laundry can be satisfying for adults with Alzheimer’s disease. Try to give them simple items like towels to fold where the motions required are the same. Not only is this repetitive, but it can make them feel like they are being useful and increase their confidence.

  1. Organize Papers

If you are like most people, you have a stack of papers somewhere in your home that you don’t need. Turn this in to an activity for your loved one by having them sort the papers. They will be happy to help you organize your papers, even if you only plan to throw them away after they are finished.

  1. Sorting Cards

People with Alzheimer’s love sorting. Give your loved one a shuffled deck of cards ask them to sort them. They can do this in any way they choose.

One great idea is to find cards with a theme they enjoy or that has to do with one of their hobbies. Do they love baseball? Get them baseball cards. Are they in to golf? Get them a golf-themed deck.


More Repetitive Tasks


Finding activities for a loved one with Alzheimer’s can be challenging, but it often just requires a little creativity. Here are a few more activities that involve repetition.

  • Rolling a ball of yarn
  • Tying knots in a rope
  • Organizing items by color, shape, or design
  • Stringing paper clips
  • Sorting buttons by color, size, and shape

Whatever task you choose, remember to be mindful of your loved one’s cognitive limitations. Typically, the simpler the activity, the better.


Memory Care for Seniors with Alzheimer’s


If you are struggling to manage your loved one’s Alzheimer’s symptoms, it may be time to start visiting memory care communities. Heritage Senior Communities provides specialized dementia care across Michigan. Contact us today to learn more or to schedule a tour.

Holiday Shopping for a Family Member With Dementia?

Holiday Shopping for a Family Member With Dementia?

Dear Donna,

Ever since my grandmother was diagnosed with dementia, I find it impossible to shop for her. Nothing I give her ever seems to make it out of its original packaging.

Do you have any advice on how to find a gift for a family member with dementia?


Angela from Holland, MI


How to Find a Holiday Gift for a Family Member With Dementia


Dear Angela,

Many caregivers struggle to find gifts for family members with dementia. After all, you want to get them something they will be able to enjoy.

It’s important to remember that those in the early stages of the disease can still enjoy many of the same gifts they did before their diagnosis. The middle and late stages of the disease are when your options become limited. Here are a few things to consider when shopping for a holiday gift for your family member with dementia.

  1. Keep Them Safe

Safety is often a huge concern for someone with dementia. A few gifts that can help keep family members with dementia safe include the following.

  • A new chair. Those with dementia often have a difficult time getting in and out of chairs that sit too low to the ground. This can easily be solved with a chair that sits higher off the ground.
  • Night lights or motion sensors. Older adults often have a harder time seeing at night. Motion sensors or night lights can improve their safety, especially if they have to get up and use the restroom in the middle of the night.
  1. Give Them a Sense of Purpose

Adults with dementia may feel like they’ve lost their sense of purpose. Restoring this feeling can be one of the greatest gifts of all.

One way to add meaning to their life is to give them something to take care of. This can be anything from plants to dolls and stuffed animals.

  1. Inspire Their Creativity

Creative projects can be tremendously beneficial for adults with dementia. These gifts can boost their self-esteem and reduce feelings of loneliness. Plus, you can enjoy them together.

Coloring books, painting supplies, and puzzles are great gifts to spark their artistic side.

  1. Stimulate Their Senses

Sensory gifts are excellent for adults with dementia regardless of what stage they are in. Sensory gifts include anything that stimulates one of the five senses.

A few sensory gifts that are great for adults with dementia include the following:

  • Tangle toys, fidget blankets, and even toys designed for children are great for stimulating touch sensors.
  • A photo album can be an excellent gift for jogging their memory.
  • Music can be extremely beneficial to adults with dementia. Try loading songs from their childhood or young adulthood on to a playlist to trigger happy memories.
  • Stimulate their taste buds by cooking their favorite foods.
  • Scented lotions can be great for adults with dementia. Lavender scents can help them relax while more energizing smells like lemon can lift their mood.
  1. Give the Gift of Time

Sometimes your time is the best gift you can give a family member with dementia. This is especially true for those in the later stages of the disease. Spend time enjoying your loved one’s company this holiday season.

I hope these ideas help you find the perfect gift for your grandmother.

Many of our senior communities, including our Appledorn Assisted Living community in Holland, offer specialized care for people with dementia. Contact us to learn more about how we improve the lives of adults with dementia each day



How Respite Care Helps Caregivers Manage the Busy Holiday Season

How Respite Care Helps Caregivers Manage the Busy Holiday Season

The holidays are the busiest time of the year for most people. Caregivers, who already have an overbooked schedule, can quickly become overwhelmed with the added stress. The increased workload can cause them to put their own needs on hold, jeopardizing their health and that of their loved one.

Here are 5 ways respite care can help caregivers manage the busy holiday season.


5 Ways Respite Care Can Help Caregivers During the Holidays


What is respite care?

Respite care provides short-term relief for caregivers by temporarily taking over their normal caregiving responsibilities. Respite care can involve having a professional caregiver go to your loved one’s home, or having them stay in a senior living community like Heritage Senior Communities for anywhere from a few hours to a few weeks.

It can be an excellent option for caregivers who want to participate in holiday festivities without having to sacrifice their own well-being or that of the loved one they care for.

  1. Reduce Stress

Respite care can alleviate some of the stress that comes along with caring for an aging loved one by allowing them to do something for themselves—even if it means doing nothing.

Having a few hours to relax and get some much-needed rest can make a world of a difference in their mood, health, and overall well-being.

  1. Avoid Unnecessary Conflict

When you are overwhelmed, it’s not uncommon to lose your temper and lash out at people. This can be especially true with family members you feel aren’t pulling their weight when it comes to caring for your loved one.

Respite care can give you time to cool off and unwind. When you’re well rested, you are more likely to hold back your resentment and confront family members calmly.

  1. Prevent Serious Complications From an Illness

When you are overly stressed, your immunity suffers. A strong immune system is critical during a busy time like the holiday season.

Not only can respite care help protect your immunity, but it can also provide your love one with a place to stay if you get sick. The last thing you want to do is spread your illness to an older adult.

  1. Give You Peace of Mind

One of the best things about seeking respite care at an assisted living community is the “community” aspect.

Your loved one will be able to spend time with people their own age who are in similar situations. While you get a break, your loved one can make friends. Relationships and feeling connected to others is crucial for longevity and overall well-being.

  1. Allow You to Enjoy the Holidays

Everyone deserves to enjoy the holiday season. Respite care can allow caregivers to do some of the activities they may have had to skip because of their caregiving duties, such as attend a holiday party or do some holiday shopping. Respite care can give caregivers the opportunity to do so.


Respite Care at Heritage Senior Communities


The holiday season may be the first time your family has seen your loved one in a while. During your time together, you may begin to talk about a senior living community as a more permanent situation. Respite care provides the perfect opportunity for your loved one to experience the community first-hand before committing to a more permanent stay.

Heritage Senior Communities offers respite care services such as adult day care and short-term stays. If you would like to learn more, call the Heritage community nearest you today.

Dear Donna: What Does a Senior Move Manager Do?

Dear Donna: What Does a Senior Move Manager Do?

Dear Donna,

My parents recently decided to move to a senior living community, and they asked me to assist them with the transition. I’d love to help them as much as possible, but I have no idea where to start.

A friend of mine told me I should hire a senior move manager. Can you explain what a senior move manager does and how they can help us make this transition go more smoothly?


Patricia in Saline, MI


Understanding the Role of a Senior Move Manager


Dear Patricia,

A senior move manager is a professional that assists older adults when they relocate. One of the best things about move managers is that you can hire them to help you manage the entire move or with specific activities.

The main benefit of a senior move manager is their expertise. They have extensive knowledge of senior moves, including cost, quality, and the availability of resources in the community. As a result, employing them can save you time, money, and resources.

Here are a few things senior move managers can do to help seniors relocate.


What Does a Senior Move Manager Do?


  1. Create a Centralized Process

As a caregiver, you already have a lot on your plate. Tackling the logistics of a senior move can be overwhelming, especially if your loved ones have a lot of belongings.

Move managers can help create an easier transition to assisted living by establishing a centralized moving process for you and your parents. They can handle every aspect of the move and prevent you from having to call a different company for each service.

  1. Develop a Plan

This is likely your first time helping older loved ones move to a senior living community. So it’s understandable that you don’t know what to expect or what services you should consider. Move managers can help seniors and families develop a plan of action based on your senior loved one’s needs.

Senior move managers can help you with the following:

  • Develop a timeline. Senior move managers specialize in moving seniors. They can help you develop a realistic timeline and come up with a checklist of everything that needs to be done for a successful move.
  • Measure your space. By measuring how much space your parents will have in their new community, senior move managers can help identify exactly how much they can bring with them.
  • Come up with a floor plan. Because they specialize in moving older adults, senior move managers understand their needs. They can help your parents come up with a floor plan suited to their lifestyle.
  1. Make Decisions About Belongings

Making decisions about what to keep is one of the most demanding challenges when it comes to senior moves. Their new home is likely smaller, which will require them to make decisions about what to keep, sell, and donate.

Seniors move managers can help in the following ways:

  • Organizing and sorting. They can help seniors decide what to keep and what to get rid of.
  • Move managers can help seniors downsize by arranging the removal of items they decide to get rid of. This includes auctions, estate sales, buy-outs, consignment, donation, or a combination of these.
  • Arrange shipments and storage. A time-consuming job, senior move managers can help with logistics.
  • They can help you pack, label, and find a way to track your items.
  1. Help seniors move, unpack and settle in their new home

Senior move managers know that the hard work of a move doesn’t end with packing. They can also help seniors get their belongings to their new home by doing the following:

  • Moving belongings to the new place. Many senior move managers are also movers. If they are not, they can assist by interviewing, scheduling, and overseeing the movers.
  • Helping seniors unpack on moving day. Senior move managers will make sure all the furniture is in place according to the plan.
  • Assisting seniors set up their technology. Before they leave, senior move managers can make sure the internet, phone, and computer are ready to use.


Senior Move Managers Understand Seniors


One factor that differentiates senior move managers from traditional moving companies is their deep understanding of the emotional and physical aspects that are unique to a senior move. Moving can be hard, especially for seniors who are moving because they are no longer able to live on their own. Senior move managers know this and do their best to make the transition as smooth as possible.

Heritage Senior Communities, including our Linden Square Assisted Living location, provides support to make the transition to assisted living easier for seniors and their families. Contact us for more information.

I hope this gives you a better understanding of senior move managers, Patricia. Best of luck with the move