My Grandma sadly suffered from Alzheimer’s for more than 20 years. During her final years, her memory and motor skills suffered terribly. We got in the habit, as most people do, of sitting in front of the television and wasting the day away. We had no idea of the importance of activities for seniors with Alzheimer’s. The more she did nothing, the more I felt her slipping away.
One Day my daughter, her great-grand daughter, came with me to care for her. She brought her beads and stretchy string and started making bracelets. I asked Grandma, “Hey, would you like to make a bracelet too”? She did and they spent the next 2 hours stringing beads. At that moment, I realized that she is capable of more than watching talk shows and soap operas. We needed to keep her body and mind moving! Here is a list of some of the more successful activities for seniors we had fun with on a daily basis. Not only will it help prevent them from becoming bored, but it keeps them awake and allows us as caregivers to spend more quality time with them.
- The Bird Feeder- Simple, string cheerios on 24 inches of twine, tie the ends together and hang it outside the nearest window!
- Photo Albums- Whether it’s looking at photo albums or creating new ones, this was always our favorite, because even if she couldn’t remember who was in the photos, she always loved to talk about the photos.
- Coloring- I don’t mean the new intricate adult coloring books, just a children’s coloring book will do. No tiny details, large animals or flowers are always fun.
- Clipping Coupons- Ok, doesn’t seem all too exciting or creative but its great busy work! Get some children’s scissors and the Sunday paper and you're set for quite a while. Have them clip the coupons of things they would like to eat or general items they want you to buy; it’s just a cheaper version of going on a shopping spree.
- Makeovers- This may not work so much for the men you’re caring for but the ladies love it! Use soft foam hair rollers to curl their hair, have them pick out a pretty blouse, a little blush and lip gloss, some costume jewelry to top it off. Be sure to take a picture when you’re done!
- Pet Therapy- Sometimes animals can be the calming effect you need! Playing fetch with dogs, holding and petting kittens or cats, even a fish tank placed nearby can be calming.
- Picnic- Weather permitted, picnics are a great way to get outdoors and enjoy some quality time, have them help you plan your lunch and even make sandwiches!
- Puzzles- Puzzles are a great way to keep the mind and hands moving, stay away from the hundreds of tiny pieces’ projects, that can end in frustration. 20-50 piece puzzles are perfect, and the larger the individual pieces are the better.
- Scrap Books/Collages - Go through old magazines and have them cut out all the pictures they like; favorite foods, animals, flowers, makeup, favorite fishing gear or sporting goods, whatever interests them. Have them glue them down on construction paper with a glue stick. You will find lots to talk about during this activity.
- Cards- Match trading cards, count regular playing cards, play simple card games or make one up!