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Meaningful and Productive Activities to Do with Your Loved One with Alzheimer’s

Family caregivers play an integral role in caring for patients with Alzheimer's disease. However, to do this effectively, caregivers have to understand their role and the burdens they may face in the process. This will also enable you to take care of yourself so you can better care for your loved one. 

In fact, part of providing care to a loved one with Alzheimer's involves engaging in different activities with them. Apart from allowing you to spend meaningful time together, these activities can help boost your loved one's mood, slow the progression of symptoms, and improve their quality of life. However, when choosing the activities to participate in, you need to take into account the person's interests and physical abilities. So what are some activities you can do?

Read on to find out. 

What is Alzheimer's?

Alzheimer's disease, or simply Alzheimer's, is a progressive brain disease that negatively affects memory and cognitive functions. This eventually destroys the ability to perform everyday tasks, effectively interfering with an individual's life. In the late stages of the disease, patients will need care and support with daily living. 

The Role of a Family Caregiver

Oftentimes, the job of caring for a person with Alzheimer's will fall on family and friends. As a family caregiver, you will provide the care your loved one needs, something that can help them to be happier, more comfortable, and live longer. Typically, your responsibilities will include:

  • Ensuring the home is a safe place for your loved one's needs  

  • Helping with activities of daily living such as eating, bathing, and personal hygiene

  • Cooking and doing housework 

  • Encouraging your loved one to engage in physical activity

  • Ensuring your loved one has a healthy diet 

  • Running basic errands such as grocery shopping and picking up medications 

  • Managing medications, arranging medical care, and making health decisions 

  • Providing company and emotional support 

Activities to Do with a Loved One Who Has Alzheimer's

There are also several activities that can help you fulfill your role as a caregiver. The good news is that you can safely participate in these activities with your loved one who has Alzheimer's. Below are a few. 

Activities to Do Around the House

To provide positive feelings and help elicit happy memories of past events, you can: 

  • Listen and sing along to their favorite music together 

  • Encourage them to play a musical instrument as you sing along 

  • Go through old photographs together and make a memory book

  • Create artwork on paper or canvas

  • Water garden and house plants with them 

  • Watch their favorite movies and TV shows 

Physical Activity

Being active will help your loved one stay in good physical shape, improve their memory, as well as boost their mood. Some activities to keep you moving include:

  • Walking, cycling, and swimming

  • Stretching or doing yoga 

  • Dancing to the music they like 

  • Gardening 

  • Going to a local museum 

Activities for Mental Stimulation

Considering that Alzheimer's is a brain disorder, activities that engage the mind can also help to slow the progression of the disease. To keep your loved one's mind active:

  • Read a book or newspaper together

  • Work on a puzzle together 

  • Play a card or board game

  • Sort objects into groups 

  • Engage in a conversation about their life as a youngster

Activities That Encourage Social Interaction

Ensuring your loved one stays socially connected will go a long way in improving their health and overall well-being. Ideas to consider include: 

  • Joining a book or discussion club together

  • Participating in a group hobby

  • Planning regular get-togethers with friends and family 

  • Connecting with friends online 

Activities That Promote Healthy Eating 

Good nutrition is also essential for promoting physical and mental health. Fun ways to encourage your loved one with Alzheimer's to eat healthy include:

  • Making a healthy dish together

  • Starting a vegetable garden together

  • Having a picnic and bringing along healthy foods   

The Burdens That Family Caregivers May Face

While caring for a loved one with Alzheimer's can be rewarding, it can also be overwhelming. In fact, the challenges you may face as a family caregiver can take a toll on your health. This is why it is important to understand and learn how to minimize caregiver burden. Below are the burdens that you may face

  • Caregiver burnout. This happens when you feel physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted.  

  • High anxiety and depression as a result of managing too many responsibilities

  • Financial strain caused by out-of-pocket costs 

  • Isolation and loneliness caused by withdrawal from your previous habits and lifestyle 

  • Strained relationships 

  • Reduced quality of life

Taking care of a loved one can be challenging and come with other strains and hardships such as financial difficulties as you may not be able to work or have to work reduced hours. Through the NY State Medicaid CDPAP program, the consumer or designated representative chooses a caregiver, which can include family members or friends and compensates them for their time.  Elite Choice is a fiscal intermediary for the program, providing CDPAP services in all counties in the State of New York. This can help ease some of the financial burden of caring for a loved one. Contact us today to know more.

Written by: Leah Ganz
Director of Patient Services

Leah Ganz, RN, BSN is the Director of Patient Services at Elite Home Health Care. She has an extensive background in homecare and previously worked in various specialties including pediatrics, pain management and internal medicine. She oversees all patient services across Elite's departments.