Being the family caregiver for a spouse or parent who has Alzheimer’s disease or dementia can present many new challenges. From safety and security to quality of life, loved ones often struggle for solutions. One is figuring out how to help the older adult live their most meaningful life.
If you are new to caregiving or just looking for some new ideas, we hope this information will be useful.
What to Remember When Planning Activities
As you begin creating a list of activities a loved one with dementia might enjoy, keep a few safety tips in mind:
- Exercise caution in public places: Large crowds can increase agitation for people with Alzheimer’s. They can also put you and your loved one at greater risk for being separated. You might want to invest in a GPS tracking watch or device just in case the worst happens and your family member wanders from you.
- Consider best and worst times: Most caregivers get to know when their loved one is usually at their best and when they struggle most. Working around those times can help. For example, restricting activities to the early hours of the day can help prevent evening wandering and agitation if your family member experiences Sundowner’s syndrome.
- Plan snack and hydration breaks: People with Alzheimer’s sometimes fail to recognize thirst and hunger. It can increase their risk for dehydration, especially on hot days. Keep water with you on outings and remind your senior loved one to drink frequently. The same is true of snacks and meals. Pack a lunch with foods you know your family member can easily consume.
Activities to Enjoy with Loved One with Dementia All Year Round
Keep this list in a convenient spot so you can refer to it easily when you need a new suggestion:
- Take photos of your garden or a nearby botanical garden and create a collage.
- Plan a kitchen herb garden or a container garden in an easy-to-access spot.
- Buy fresh produce at an indoor farm store or farmer’s market, weather permitting.
- Make homemade ice cream, frozen fruit pops, or smoothies.
- Blow bubbles with a grandchild.
- Hang an attachable bird feeder on a window to enjoy feathered friends.
- Pick a pumpkin at the pumpkin patch and paint a fun face on it.
- Enjoy a nature walk or drive along the shore of a river or lake.
- Deadhead flowers in the garden or do a little weeding.
- Feed the ducks at a local park.
- Rake leaves and bag them up to compost.
- Water or feed plants in the garden.
- Watch family videos or look through old family photos.
- Take the dog for a long walk in the morning.
- Go bird-watching and try to capture photos of the different types you see.
- Listen to old music while you have a dance party in the living room.
- Visit a fruit farm and pick fresh blueberries or strawberries.
- Enjoy the aromatherapy that comes from baking an apple pie, cookies, or bread.
- Arrange fresh flowers in a vase or place them in a press to make notecards.
- Purchase craft kits or supplies from a local hobby store to use when you need an activity in a hurry.
We hope this gives you some fun ideas to help make a loved one with dementia feel more productive!
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