Creative Thinking and Experimentation for Seniors with Alzheimer’s

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If you are caring for someone living with Alzheimer’s disease, the recommended social distancing and stay at home orders can result in further challenges and feelings of isolation.

Engaging your loved one in a satisfying activity helps to reduce anxiety, agitation, depression and anger. It may also help to reduce challenging behaviors like sundowning. Each person is different, so it may take some creative thinking and experimentation to find activities that are appealing. It’s also important to consider your loved one’s level of cognitive decline and what abilities and skills still remain.

To help, here are some ideas for stimulating activities you can enjoy from the safety of home. You never know what may spark your loved one’s interest!

Activities to Keep Hands Busy

Seniors with Alzheimer’s may show anxiety through keeping their hands in motion. Signs include rubbing or wringing their hands, pulling at clothes or bedding and twisting their fingers. Some helpful activities to calm nerves and provide comfort include:

  • Playing with sensory toys designed for anxiety relief and to increase brain activity
  • Offering fidget blankets and aprons
  • Touching and squeezing sensory toys, such as a spiky massage ball
  • Creating a fidget box containing items of various colors and textures (ie- things with Velcro closures or zippers, mini stuffed animals, a row of buttons sewn onto a ribbon, wind-up toys)
  • Shuffling and arranging a deck of visually stimulating cards
  • Helping with simple household chores, such as folding towels or organizing a junk drawer
  • Threading pasta with yarn or string

Activities to Engage the Five Senses

  • Sight: Ideas include watching a favorite movie, reading books or magazines, sitting together and observing what’s going on outside the window, doodling, coloring or looking at photographs. There are also many virtual activities available online since the COVID-19 pandemic began, such as “visiting” museums from around the world.
  • Sound: Your loved one may enjoy listening to a favorite song or genre of music. It’s also a great time to explore podcasts relating to a favorite subject.
  • Touch: Have your loved one feel fabric and familiar objects or help with folding warm laundry.
  • Taste: You can set up a small buffet of fruit, desserts or some of their other favorite foods.
  • Smell: Provide your loved one with pleasant smells to enjoy, like mint or lavender. You can also have them smell their mini buffet of favorite foods.

Games also offer both mental and social stimulation for those with Alzheimer’s and can possibly slow the deterioration of cognitive abilities. Playing cards and bingo or doing word puzzles and visual games involving pictures are all choices that can be well suited for Alzheimer’s patients.

Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s can be challenging and may be particularly stressful during the coronavirus pandemic. Assisting Hands offers professional in-home personal care services to provide caregivers with a much-needed break. We can help keep your loved one safe and secure when you can’t be with them or you need time for yourself. Sometimes, the caregiver needs a little time off for self-care! If you live in Maryland (including Montgomery County), call us at 301-363-2580 and let’s discuss how we can help. If you live in Northern Virginia (including Reston and Herndon), please call us at 703-556-8983.