For seniors with memory impairment such as Alzheimer’s or dementia, regularly participating in stimulating activities can improve their quality of life. Creating meaningful experiences for Mom—at whatever stage of her condition—has the potential to engage her and help her retain a happier, more positive outlook.
Here are 10 tips for making activities do-able for seniors with memory impairment:
- Make activities simple
Keep activities uncomplicated or lessen the chances for wrong answers. The goal of the activity is to engage and entertain Mom, not to frustrate her with difficult problems. Sensory activities, involving things that she can touch or listen to, are often good choices.
- Avoid triggers
Learn what upsets Mom—such as excessive background noise or multiple conversations taking place nearby—and avoid activities or places where the triggers could occur. Plan ahead to diffuse trigger situations: For example, bring earplugs everywhere to mute distractions and confusion.
- Maintain routines
Make some activities a routine every day, like turning off the lights and locking the doors at night. These activities can provide her with a sense of physical safety—and offer emotional safety to both you and Mom.
- Do activities during her “good” times
If Mom is energetic in the morning, that’s when to engage her in an activity. Trying a new activity during her best time of day is also the opportune moment to see if she enjoys it.
Many memory care communities have exercise programs specifically suited for residents with dementia and Alzheimer’s—such as walking, yoga, tai chi, or simple pool exercises. Exercise can help Mom get a good night’s sleep, maintain a healthy appetite, and keep a positive outlook.
- Reminisce together
Get the home videos or photo albums out, and encourage Mom to remember events like her wedding day, the birth of her first child, or a favorite holiday. Playing old TV shows or records can bring back good memories, too.
- Recreate old hobbies
If Mom liked to do crossword puzzles, perhaps she’ll now enjoy a jigsaw puzzle with large, simple pieces. If she used to bake, find recipes with fewer steps that you can make together. Transforming old hobbies into new, simpler activities also will increase the chance of her liking them.
- Visit a garden
Retirement communities offering memory care often have gardens where residents can stroll along and appreciate the beautiful flowers and plants. Some communities even have sensory gardens that use sound, sight, and scent to engage residents.
- Sort objects
Keep Mom’s mind agile by having her sort objects by color or shape. These objects could be anything—from blocks to socks to cards. Make sure for later stage Alzheimer’s patients that these objects are larger, softer, and difficult to swallow.
- Social activities
Social events offered by her assisted living community may be a great way to engage Mom. These activities are often tailored to residents with memory impairment, and may include arts and crafts, cards, or reading aloud.
Life Care Services-managed communities offers activities and programs that help seniors with memory impairments stay engaged and active.