November is National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month. When spending time with seniors who have Alzheimer’s or dementia, it is important consider what they enjoyed doing before they began to lose their memory. Find an activity that makes them feel purposeful—they may not remember what they did that day but they will remember how they felt doing it.
Go through photo albums.
This is a fun activity for people with memory challenges and you might hear a story you’ve never heard before. Seeing the old pictures takes them back to a time that they can remember—the memories are still there and they can tell stories about family and friends from the years past.
Plant a flower or vegetable garden.
Gardening can be fun and relaxing for seniors with Alzheimer’s or dementia. To make gardening easier, create a tabletop garden with pots or a window box that is within reach. Help them plant flowers, herbs, vegetables and more in their personal gardens.
Listen to familiar music.
Get your loved one to sing along with their favorite tunes or do a little dance. Hearing certain songs may bring back memories of specific events or times in their life and may lead to reminiscing about the past.
Plan a celebration.
Involve your loved one with party preparations. Let them help you put together party decorations, prepare food or set the table for the party. They will enjoy the party and feel accomplished because they helped to contribute something to the celebration.
For men (and women too!) fishing can be a great way to spend the afternoon. Not only will it bring back great memories, but it will also get them out and enjoying the outdoors. Fishing may require more supervision than before but your loved ones will be happy to return to their favorite fishing sites together.
Bring out your loved one’s favorite recipes and fire up the oven. Bake bread, cookies, cakes or any other specialties and spend some time in the kitchen. The familiar smells can bring back memories of the many other times that they prepared these recipes.
For loved ones who are in the later stages of Alzheimer’s or dementia, try one of these activities:
- Take a car ride around their old neighborhoods or towns
- Watch old comedies like I Love Lucy and The Andy Griffith Show
- Toss a balloon back and forth—it’s fun and helps with coordination
What are your favorite activities to do with a loved one who has Alzheimer’s or dementia?