Caregiving Monday: 10 Simple Activities for Advancing Alzheimer’s

Are you looking for simple activities for your loved one?  Is your loved one in the middle to advanced stages of Alzheimer’s?

String items on a may want to use edible items if you are concerned with being put in the mouth
String items on a string…you may want to use edible items if you are concerned with being put in the mouth


These are a fun ideas you may want to try:

  1. Folding—while you are doing laundry, ask to help you fold washcloths and socks.  If they are able to do more advanced folding, that’s also great.   Even if you have to redo these tasks, thank them and praise them.
  2. Stringing—take a handful of cheerios, fruit loops, etc. and ask your loved one to slide these on the screen.   Then you can either save them for Christmas {if it’s near} or put out for the birds to feed on.
  3. Sorting—gather a collection of buttons, rocks, spoons and forks, bottle caps, etc. and ask to sort these items.  One reminder is to make sure they do not place these smaller items in the mouth.
  4. Coloring—working with dementia patients, I discovered they love to color
  5. Play Dough—allow them to make something out of play dough or even clay.  This is a great activity for their hands.
  6. Name that….—whether you have a stack of pictures of Presidents, family members, friends or celebrities, you can play
    Cut out coupons, pictures, or scriptures. You may want to considerable child's scissors.
    Cut out coupons, pictures, or scriptures. You may want to considerable child’s scissors.

    “Name that Person” and ask to name.  If the loved one doesn’t know, give them gentle hints and prompts.

  7. Dolls—you can cut out and color paper dolls, or find a doll or stuffed animal your loved one can hold and cuddle.  We did this with one lady and just holding a doll helped her anxiety.
  8. Play Cards or Games—pick activities and games your loved one will enjoy playing and be able to follow and understand
  9. Roll a Ball of Yarn—take a ball of yarn and let your loved one roll it up into a ball
  10. Cut out pictures—give a magazine and ask your loved one to cut out pictures for you

Bonus Idea: What in the bag?—put a collection of various items in a bag and pull one out at a time.  Allow your loved one to touch and feel and tell you what the item is.


Join the Conversation: What other activities have you tried?


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?