10 Activities to Engage an Alzheimer’s Patient

Alzheimer’s is a terrible disease that slowly steals our loved one away from us.  By the time the disease has run its course, our loved one can become completely incapacitated.  By engaging the patient and allowing them to participate in activities, we are attempting offsetting the movement of this disease.

When endeavoring to engage the patient in these activities, make sure that the exercise is within the capability of the patient.  You want this to be something that is as fail proof as possible.


  1. Music—music is very therapeutic for most people.  Choose music your loved one enjoys and can relate to.   This may be a specific style or specific songs that have a special meaning.   While the patient is listening to the music you could introduce movement activities such as dance, play instruments, sing or exercise.  {Depending on the patient’s capability}.
  2. Puzzle—puzzles are a great way to keep the mind engaged.   Depending on the capability of the patient will depend on the complexity of a puzzle.  Just remember that even a simple child’s puzzle is a great activity.
  3. Pictures and Memory Books—using pictures of special places, events and people in the patient’s life is a great way to help the patient to remember and connect.  You never know what memories may surface.          Memories
  4. Reading—reading is a great way to engage the patient.  If the patient is willing to read to you, this is a wonderful outlet for them.   However, don’t forget that you could also read out loud to the patient.  Stop and ask questions throughout the story make sure they understand the storyline.
  5. Crossword Puzzles—Crossword puzzles, Sudoku and other similar games are a great activity to engage the patient.  Allow them to do as much as possible and gently prod when and as necessary.
  6. Old Hobbies—did your loved one enjoy knitting, crafting, cooking, singing, gardening or another hobby?  Incorporating these activities into the patient’s day is a great way to keep them active.  Depending on their capability you may have to make adjustments to meet their current needs.  {Ex. Bring in a pot and allow your loved one to plant into the pot.}                    knitting
  7. Draw or coloring books—drawing or coloring in coloring books are great utilities to keep the patient active and engaged.  You can discuss what they are drawing or coloring and relate it to various memories.
  8. Play ball—using a balloon or soft ball you can toss the object back and forth.  Maybe with each pass of the ball ask a question {ex. What is your favorite hobby, what is your favorite color, etc.}
  9. Shuffle a prayer or poem—write out a prayer {ex. Lord’s Prayer}, favorite scripture or poem and print it out in large type.  Then cut this into pieces {ex. Our Father; who art in heaven; etc}.  Have your loved one put the verse back together.
  10. Pets—pets are very therapeutic for many people.  Spending time and playing with a family or neighbor dog is a great activity.  Remember to take into consideration how the patient reacts to animals and/or any allergies.   pets

When introducing an activity, decide the best time of day for the patient.  When is your loved one at his/her best or have the most energy?  In closing, I want to encourage you not to grow discouraged.  If one activity doesn’t work, another may.  The best way to know what is a success is through trial and error.

What activity works best with your loved one?

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