25 Holiday Activities for Seniors With Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease

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The holidays can be a very stressful time for the typical family, but for a family caregiver who is managing the care of an aging loved one with dementia or Alzheimer's disease, the stress can be overwhelming. To help manage the holiday stress it is important to find holiday activities that are simple and easy to do. There are literally hundreds of ideas of things caregivers and families can do with a senior who has Alzheimer's disease. However, there are a few tips that you should keep in mind:

Senior's Specific Activity Interests: It is always good to find things that have been interesting to your loved one in the past. Maybe it was music, art, crafts, reading or puzzles.

Repetition for Dementia: While you and I might easily get bored with repetitive activities, someone with dementia or Alzheimer's disease actually can find it comforting and re-assuring. So think of things that are repetitive like cutting coupons, or stringing beads.

Sense of Calm: For someone with cognitive impairments additional stimuli in their environment can be disturbing. Try to avoid chaos and disorganization in the home. Try to keep the environment peaceful and routine.

Meaningful: Provide choice to your aging loved one so they have a sense of value and purpose in the activities that they are doing.

Holiday activities for seniors with Dementia With these key factors in mind, here is a list of some wonderful activities families can do together with a senior who has dementia or Alzheimer's disease:

  • String popcorn
  • Make paper chain garland
  • Decorate apples or oranges with cloves and ribbon (pomander)
  • Make holiday cards
  • Stick stamps and return labels onto greeting cards
  • Go caroling together
  • Play old holiday music or try new holiday music
  • Read holiday books aloud
  • Make cookies
  • Rake fall leaves
  • Make paper snowflakes to decorate the house
  • Take a stroll down main street to see the store windows
  • Polish the silver for the arriving guests
  • Put out holiday candles throughout the house
  • Find holiday related crossword puzzles (kids books)
  • Place holiday ornaments into a decorative bowl
  • Make a simple holiday floral arrangement
  • Invite a few friend over to visit for holiday tea and cookies
  • Wrap gifts
  • Collect pine cones for a decorative basket
  • Rent a favorite holiday movie for the whole family
  • Do a jigsaw puzzle together
  • Take a nature walk together in the park
  • Hang the holiday cards that arrive on the mantel
  • Make a holiday card holder
  • When caring for an aging loved one, you may need to make adjustments to your typical family traditions, but this is an opportunity to create new family traditions. You might be surprised how enjoyable the season can be for the entire family when you create an atmosphere of peace and calm.

    Inger Rarick has over 20 years of experience working with older adults, seniors and the elderly in various settings including adult day care, assisted living facilities, and in-patient rehabilitation. She understands the needs of family caregivers and the stress associated with managing the care of an aging parent. In addition to her clinical work with families and seniors, Ms. Rarick is also passionate about technology and how technology can improve the lives of seniors both at home and in the healthcare setting. Aging in place and supporting older loved ones to remain in the home environment is essential to successful aging. She founded a company called FamiliLink, empowering families to provide care and support to aging loved ones by including them in the digital loop. She also works closely with Sarahcare (http://www.sarahcare.com), a leading Adult Day Care Service company with more than 35 centers across the nation.

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