It is very important for people with Alzheimer’s to maintain an active lifestyle for their well-being. Although loved ones who are living with this progressive disease suffer from memory loss, they still want to connect with other people, to feel joy, to feel fulfilled or to be part of something greater than themselves. Therefore it is important that they regularly participate in activities that are tailored to their ability to stay active - even if they need a little help in planning.
Watching a baseball game, listening to music, housework, art projects, looking at family photos - there are endless opportunities for people with Alzheimer's to stay active. But how do you choose the right activity? What adjustments do you need to make if you include a loved one in an activity? These are important questions that need to be considered. To help you out, we've put together a set of guidelines to help you tailor each activity and ensure optimal enjoyment and safety for all involved.
Take their interests into account
It is really important to focus on the person when it comes down to thinking about activities for people with Alzheimer’s. Think about what motivates and interests them and select a related activity that is part of their abilities. One or two step activities work best, especially if the disease has progressed.
The following table lists some different types of simple activities that need to be considered.
|Creative:||Listening to music, playing the piano, knitting, painting, cooking simple recipes|
|Intellectual:||Watching a historical documentary, doing puzzles, reading|
|Physical:||Organizing, dancing, cleaning, gardening, playing catch, going for a walk|
|Social:||Visiting with family, volunteering, attending spiritual services, playing cards, going for coffee with a friend|
Pay attention to the environment
Be aware of the environment when you include a loved one with Alzheimer's in an activity. Although sensory cues are good for awakening old memories, clutter and noise can interfere with a meaningful connection. Minimize distractions as much as possible.
Pay attention to their physical abilities
Remember to be mindful of their physical abilities, no matter which activity you choose to do with your loved ones. People with Alzheimer's often suffer from a gradual physical decline because of the disease, which varies from person to person. They may also experience physical limitations that have nothing to do with Alzheimer's. Allow them to use their maximum abilities while paying attention to their safety.
Focus on the journey, not the result
Ultimately, the goal is to involve relatives with Alzheimer's in activities, to spend time with them, and to nourish their emotional, physical and mental health. It is very important to be flexible and patient to a person whose mood changes often or when they want to do an activity differently. They can also become frustrated if they are unable to perform an activity at the same level as they have before. Encourage them to continue without criticism. If they seem not to be interested or fatigued, try again later or choose another activity.
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