Nine enjoyable activity ideas for people with Alzheimer’s disease

Group of older Australians take part in a Tai chi class together.

Activities that calm, create a sense of purpose or stimulate cognition, can be incredibly beneficial to a person living with Alzheimer’s disease.

They also make for more meaningful and enjoyable social interactions.

In celebration of World Alzheimer’s Day on September 21, we have made a list of 9 such activities for people with this type of dementia.

Remember, these activities will need to be adapted to the individual’s preferences and abilities.

Playing ‘hum that tune’

Music and singing can soothe and uplift the person, especially when it’s from a time in their youth.

Play ‘hum that tune’, where you start humming a song they might know and ask them to join in. A familiar song can create happy feelings.

This activity also delivers a sense of achievement when the person recognises a song.

Visiting old places

If the person you are supporting is mobile enough, a lovely thing to do is to take them to a place that holds old memories.

This could be somewhere from their childhood, like a park or the street they lived in (if it’s relatively unchanged).

It could be a place they visited often. While walking or driving the old trail, ask them to tell you about this time in their life.

Playing with pets

Pet therapy, where people interact with animals, is now commonplace in some aged care facilities and children’s hospitals.

This is because pets can provide comfort, reduce stress and promote interaction.

Engaging with your client’s pet alongside them, or bringing yours (if permission is granted, of course) to a support session can be enjoyable.

So can be visiting a pet store, provided it doesn’t overwhelm the person.

Doing brain training games together

Doing simple puzzles together or playing games that the person knows is always a great activity.

Games like Boggle, dominos or bingo can be a brain workout and a fun way to stimulate cognitive function.

Be careful though that the person you are supporting doesn’t find these games too hard. They should be enjoyable and not cause stress.

Brain training apps such as Lumosity can also help improve memory, attention, problem-solving and speed of processing skills in people with Alzheimer’s.

Looking at old photo albums

Looking at old photo albums can be enjoyable and comforting to a person with Alzheimer’s disease.

This is because pictures may be taken from a time your client or family member remembers. These can then form ‘memory prompts’ to spark conversations around personal history.

You could also create your own personalised ‘memory book’ online through Dementia Australia where you can upload photos, stories and personal details.

Gardening and enjoying nature

Being out in the garden or in nature promotes wellbeing in all of us.

You can try to encourage the person to take a short walk around their street or try out an easy trail.

Gardening can be therapeutic. You could do some weeding or plant herbs with them in the garden or visit a nursery together.

Side-by-side painting

Sitting next to each other and creating an artwork is a great way to connect with the person.

Be it watercolours or mixed media, painting is not only artistic expression, it can also be therapeutic.

One study even found art therapy to improve communication for people with Alzheimer’s disease.

Getting active together

Physical activity increases blood flow to the brain and stimulates the brain. It also improves mood and sleep.

Some suggestions for getting active include going for a walk, doing gentle yoga, tai chi (where movements can be copied at the same time), dancing and seat-exercises for the less mobile.

Sensory box fun

Filling a shoebox box with cotton wool balls and different objects, such as something hard, fluffy, smooth, rigid, heavy and light is a stimulating activity.

Take turns closing your eyes and feeling what’s inside. A sensory box will activate the sense of touch and can lead to a conversation about what you both think the object is.

Find dementia support on Mable

If you are looking for support for your loved one who is living with Alzheimer’s, you can book independent support workers on Mable, many of whom have extensive experience in dementia support.

By booking and managing support through Mable:

  • You have choice and control over who supports you, when and where they support you, and how much you pay for the support
  • You’re safeguarded by Mable’s strict approval and verification process, and the high-level arranged by Mable on behalf of support workers.

We hope you find this guide useful in engaging your loved one or your client. Sign up and start searching for support workers or post a job ad on Mable today.