Susan Berg's Activity Ideas Galore
By Susan Berg, CDP, AD,  BS(COTA/L)
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Susan Berg
Author, Activity Director
Activities Director Blog
Alzheimers Ideas
About Susan

Susan Berg has been a
healthcare professional and
educator for over 20 years. She
is the, activity director, of
many years, at Hunt Nursing
and Rehabilitation Center in
Danvers. While there, she has
gained much dementia care
and activity experience and
knowledge. She has had
special training in dementia
care and dementia activities
through the Alzheimer’s
Association and other
educational forums. Berg is the
author of Adorable
Photographs of Our Baby-
Meaningful, Mind-Stimulating
Activities and More for the
Memory Challenged, Their
Loved Ones, and Involved
Professionals, a book for those
with dementia and an
excellent resource for
caregivers and healthcare
Take a look
at Susan's book
Flash Cards are
available  to use
with Susan's Book
Note:  They can also be
used without the book
and are ideal for group
You Ain’t Nothing But a Hound Dog
and Other Jubilant January Activities

There are many opportunities for special activities in January. These
activities can be easily adapted for other times during the year.

These activities appeal to a wide audience with easy modifications for the
specific needs of the people in your audience

In January, Elvis Presley’s birthday is celebrated.

Why not convince someone on your facility’s staff to dress up like Elvis

If no one is willing to do this, there are still plenty of activities you can do for
the Elvis fan.
Show an Elvis movie such as the ones listed on this page     
You can do a “Complete the Elvis movie title” game with this list also

Play an Elvis CD.
You can do a “Complete the Elvis Song Title” game as well
For some titles go here
Play a CD or DVD including these songs.  Remember you can borrow many
of these CDs, videos, and DVDs from your local library  

Talk about Elvis
There are some great Elvis trivia questions at

One activity that I particularly like that really has nothing to do with Elvis
except that The name of the game is the name of a popular Elvis song
The name of the game, as I am sure you can guess by the title of this
article is,
“You Ain’t Nothing But a Hound Dog”.

This activity is all about dogs.
It is no secret that most seniors love animals, especially dogs.
You can start the activity by playing the song, “You Ain’t Nothing But a
Hound Dog” or another song of your choosing.
You can invite a staff or family member with a dog to come in to show off
his/her dog.

After the residents have seen and patted the dog, then move onto the next
part of the activity.

Just be aware that this could take some time.

It may be best to send the dog owner to do some room visits, while you do
the rest of this activity.

First, I like to show some pictures of dogs. If you just had a dog visit, your
participants are already in a dog loving mood. If not, the activity can be
started here.

Here are some good sources of large, colorful dog pictures that are pretty
cheap or free:
  • Get family or staff members to donate 8x10 pictures of their dogs
  • Buy a calendar or have someone donate an old calendar with large
    dog photos
  • This is a good time to buy a calendar with a large dog photo above
    each month. You can use older calendars with dog photos. Most
    people are willing to donate a calendar from last year
  • The photos on the calendar are cute and conversation stimulating.
  • Get a library book with large dog photos or a DVD or VHS tape with

Now with some kind of pictures in hand, start showing them to your
audience. Of course, show them one at a time

Most likely, unless you are doing this activity with a very small group or 1:1,
not everyone in the group will be able to see the picture at once which is
why I like to use the pictures as a spring board for a discussion.

Who knows where the discussion will go as you show the pictures.
Let’s say you are showing everyone a picture of a Boston Terrier. Say that
this is a Boston Terrier. As you are showing the picture to each person,
keep repeating that sentence. Then start asking this series of questions
  • Who had a dog as a pet?
  • What kind of a dog did you have?
  • For a list of different breeds of dogs go here
  • Did you have to walk the dog?
  • What tricks do dogs do?
  • What tricks did your dog do?
  • Or ask questions you know that will get your group talking.

The picture got the group members interested. The questions kept them

Ask the questions one at a time. Give ample time for responses. Make sure
everyone has a turn to speak.

Again, who knows where the discussion will go as you show the pictures.
I like to break things up so no one gets bored. If this took about ten minutes
or so, I like to sing a song with the group
Here are two good dog songs you can sing
“How Much is that Doggy in the Window” and “Where Oh Where has my
Little Dog Gone? ”

Go here for some more dog songs
html  or just sing the residents favorites
You can also pass around dog toys, fake fur, or a stuffed animal dog.
This can lead to many more opportunities for discussion.
You can continue this process until it is time for the next item in the
residents’ day.

For the lower functioning resident, give him/her some dog toy or small
stuffed animal to hold.  Doing this seems to ground him/her.  
Actually giving
any resident something to hold during the activity keeps him.her more

During a down time, residents could watch a movie

There are dog movies listed at the web page below   

For some dog activities for low functioning, agitated dementia residents,
click below

I know these activities will keep your residents happy and mentally

Any activity that evokes conversation and thought goes a long way to
maintaining the highest level of mental functioning of your residents. Isn’t
that one thing we want to do?