The Activity Director's Office Presents
Activity Ideas That Work
by Gina Salazar, AD
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Fun stuff to do with Alzheimers/Dementia Residents:

I have found that in dealing with Alzheimers/Dementia residents, you need to try to
find out what your residents like and their individual needs, read their history,talk to
their families,ask them. You will find that different activities will work some days
and times and others wont. The best thing to remember is that the residents are
not babies and should be treated with respect at all times. Have fun with them and
keep them busy,look out for Sundowning(restless behavior towards the late
afternoon hours ),Try to keep a consistent program. Enjoy yourself!These are the
most rewarding residents that I have found to work with. Here are a few ideas and
sample activity days that you might try:

Sorting: Get items that can be sorted by the residents such as Buttons (different
sizes and colors), poker chips, balls, bottle caps, forks, spoons, rocks, etc.  Have
residents sort items out, make sure to always have staff by the resident to watch
that they don't eat items.

Play dough/Clay: Give resident some clay or play dough and have them make
something,anything. This is good exercise for their hands.

Book Making: Have your residents go through different magazines and look for a
specific item. Examples: birds,ladies,babies, cats, dogs, food, cars etc. then have
residents cut the items out and make their own "books".

What 's in the Bag? Get a bag and fill it with different items such as cotton
balls,sandpaper,leaves,newspaper,felt,q-tips,golf ball,sock,clothespin,etc,then
have residents take turns and feel whats in the bag,and tell you what the items are.

Stringing: Get Cheerios, fruit loops, popcorn,or honey combs cereal and some
string and let  your residents string up a chain to put outside for the birds. This
activity is fun because they can eat some while they make their chains.

Cooking Class: Make a fruit salad:  get different fruits and have residents cut up
with plastic knives, add whipped cream or plain yogurt,Yummy!
BBQ: get a small/large George Forman Grill and buy some hot dogs and have a
BBQ!! The George Forman Grill is great to have for your facility because its
small,cleans up easy, and the smell of the cooking item on the grill is wonderful for
the residents .Other items to grill: Grilled Cheese Sandwiches,Chicken Breasts for
Chicken Salad & Quesidellas.

Other stuff to make: Tuna Salad,Smoothies,Ice cream Sundaes,Pizza Boats &

Pet Therapy:  I have found that if you can have animals at your facility, do it!!! They
can be a lot of work but they residents really respond to
dogs,cats,rabbits,birds,turtles and most any animals.And the fun part is that you
can get your residents to help with their care,feeding,and walking the dogs.

Ball Toss:  Get some residents and a ball and have some fun, place residents in a
circle and roll ball towards residents,let them kick it or toss it.

Lifeskills:  Have residents fold clothes, sweep,dust, vacuum and set dining room
tables. Alzheimer's residents love to help. I have found that if you say " I am so
busy,can you help me fold these clothes Mrs. Johnson" they will love to do it.

Exercise:  Take your residents outside for a walk, always take a caregiver or
someone else with you and a cell phone if possible.

Music Appreciation:  Music soothes the soul,put on some music any kind of
music, and just sit back with your residents and listen, some residents may sing
along, some will dance, anything goes. Have fun....

Tips on Sundowning:

~ Provide a Quiet area that residents can relax at any time.
~ Watch to see certain triggers such as t.v.,mirrors,pictures of family
members,radios or anything that "sets"your residents off.
~Be sure that your residents are getting enough rest,lack of sleep can be a trigger
for sundowning.
~ Be free of clutter,make sure that there is nothing in the way of the floor and have
clear walkways,hallways,common areas,etc.
~Limit length of activities and amount of stimulus- in other words keep your
activities short and sweet. 15 Minutes is usually about all the Alzheimer's resident
can process and stay focused for.
These tips are not fool proof and will work at times or may not. Just remember to
be patient and try to enjoy your time with your resident.

Sample Activity calendar:

Use this link to bring beautiful music to your residents through your computer
Alzheimer's Music Page
101 Things to do with a
person with Alzheimers'

1. Clip coupons
2. Sort poker chips
3. Count tickets
4. Rake leaves
5. Use the carpet sweeper
6. Read out loud
7. Bake cookies
8. Look up names in the phone book
9. Read the daily paper out loud
10. Ask someone with a child to visit
11. Listen to Polka music
12. Plant seeds indoors or out
13. Look at family photographs
14. Toss a ball
15. Color pictures
16. Make homemade lemonade
17. Wipe off the table
18. Weed the flower bed
19. Make cream cheese mints
20. Have a spelling bee
21. Read from the Reader's Digest
22. Fold clothes
23. Have a friend visit with a calm pet
24. Cut pictures out of greeting card
25. Wash silverware
26. Bake homemade bread
27. Sort objects by shape or color
28. Sing old songs
29. "Tell me more" when they talk
about a memory
30. Put silverware away
31. Make a Valentine collage
32. Play favorite songs and sing
33. Take a ride
34. Make a cherry pie
35. Read aloud from Ideals magazine
36. Play dreidels
37. Make a basket of socks
38. Take a walk
39. Reminisce about 1st day of
40. String Cheerios to hang outside
for birds
41. Make a fresh fruit salad
42. Sweep the patio
43. Color paper shamrocks green
44. Fold towels
45. Have afternoon tea
46. Remember great inventions
47. Play Pictionary
48. Paint a sheet
49. Cut out paper dolls
50. Identify states and capitals
51. Make a family tree poster
52. Color a picture of our flag
53. Cook hot dogs outside
54. Grow magic rocks
55. Water house plants
56. Reminisce about the first kiss
57. Play horse shoes
58. Dance
59. Sing favorite hymns
60. Make homemade ice cream
61. Force bulbs for winter blooming
62. Make Christmas cards
63. Sort playing cards by their color
64. Write a letter to a family member
65. Dress in your favorite football
team's color
66. Pop popcorn
67. Name the presidents
68. Give a manicure
69. Make paper butterflies
70. Plant a tree
71. Make a May basket
72. Make homemade applesauce
73. Finish famous sayings
74. Feed the ducks
75. Mold with play dough
76. Look at pictures in National
77. Put a puzzle together
78. Sand wood
79. Rub in hand lotion
80. Decorate paper placemats
81. Arrange fresh flowers
82. Remember famous people
83. Straighten out underwear drawer
84. Finish Nursery Rhymes
85. Make peanut butter sandwiches
86. Wipe off patio furniture
87. Cut up used paper for scratch
88. Take care of fish tank
89. Trace and cut out leaves
90. Ask simple trivia questions
91. Finish Bible quotes
92. Paint with string
93. Cut out pictures from magazines
94. Read classic short stories
95. Put coins in a jar
96. Sew sewing cards
97. Put bird feed out for the birds
98. Clean out a pumpkin
99. Reminisce about a favorite
100. Roll yarn into a ball
101. Make a birthday cake

(from the Columbia, Missouri
Chapter of the Alzheimer's
8:00 Breakfast
8:30 Clean-up
9:00 Grooming
9:30 Morning Social
10:00 Coffee,Current
Events,and Chats
10:30 Groovin' to the
Oldies exercise class
11:00 Lifeskills
12:00 Luchtime
1:00 Outdoor activity group
2:00 Snack Time
3:00 Lawrence Welk
Music Hour
4:00 Nature Walk
5:00 Dinner
6:00 Evening Bingo
8:00 Breakfast
8:30 Clean-up
9:00 Beauty /Grooming
9:30 Meet and Greet
10:00 Muffin Madness /
10:30 Music Movement
11:00  Crafts
12:00 Lunchtime
1:00 Lifeskills
1:30 Pet Therapy
2:00 Snack time
2:30 Outting- Shopping
trip-Wal-Mart and Longs
5:00 Dinner
6:00 Movie Matinee
8:00 Breakfast
8:30 Clean-up
9:00  Facials and Pretty
10:00  Bagels and News
10:30  Seniorcise
11:00 Family Visits
12:00 Lunchtime
1:00 Lifeskills
2:00 Church Visits
3:00 Snacktime
4:00 Fun and Games
5:00 Dinnertime
6:00 Music Appreciation

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The Activity Director's Office
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