Alzheimer’s Disease is the most common form of dementia and occurs due to generalized deterioration of the brain, including the areas that control speech, movement, touch, taste, and vision. That is why the most effective therapy for Alzheimer’s patients is to provide recreation that makes the brain work. At LivHOME, we find that patients respond well to fun activities that encourage movement and activate the senses. Here are some examples of sensory stimulation that patients enjoy.
1. Walking and/or light exercise
- The most enjoyable walk for an Alzheimer’s patient is one that moves slowly along an interesting path. In suburban or rural areas, plants and flowers provide fragrant beautiful things to look at and talk about. In urban areas, parks and playgrounds provide flat surfaces with greenery and friendly faces. Don’t worry about a long walk; fresh air and movement are the important factors.
2. Playing familiar music (possibly of the patient’s choosing)
Music rests in the brain stem. That is why even non-verbal Alzheimer’s patients can sometimes sing along with a song. It seems that the power of music can usurp even the ravages of a disease as devastating as Alzheimer’s. Playing familiar music is soothing, reassuring, and brings forth pleasant memories for the patient. For those Alzheimer’s patients who may suffer from explosive episodes, music can be a calming tool.
3. Painting and/or simple art projects
Alzheimer’s Disease will at some point take away fine motor skills, but that doesn’t mean that painting and simple art projects can’t be positive pursuits. Paint brushes with easy to hold, round handles can be used, as can sponges and bath scrunchies made of tulle. Water based paint is important, and thick paper must be used because the patient won’t be able to carefully control the amount of paint that is used. Having fun, encouraging movement and the observation of color are the keys to this exercise.
4. Watch old family videos
One never knows when an Alzheimer’s patient will have a moment of recognition, or be stirred with the grace of a loving memory. Watching old family videos, or looking through photo albums together provides the opportunity for those precious moments to occur. Even when the patient can no longer recognize loved ones, or know they are part of a family unit, the experience of watching other people is comforting.
5. Cook/bake simple recipes together
Any activity that involves close human interaction is a positive one. Closely supervised, simple baking can be reassuring to those who always liked to bake. Giving the Alzheimer’s patient a wooden spoon to hold, or flour to put in a bowl are productive activities. Be careful to keep their involvement very simple, and avoid giving them a list of things to do that might cause frustration. Being with another person, laughing and enjoying the moment is the benefit of baking together.
LivHOME provides support to families trying to find appropriate care for an aging loved one. We learn the needs of the senior and family through a detailed clinical assessment. Then, based on the assessment, the Care Manager develops a personalized Plan of Care. Our professional Geriatric Care Managers, specialists in the field of gerontology (RN, licensed social workers, and/or mental health professionals) coordinate all resources and manage specially trained Caregivers to deliver personalized, at-home services. The important part is not to stand by and suffer alone.