Activities to Do with Your Parent Who Has Alzheimer’s/Dementia

Activities to Do with Your Parent Who Has Alzheimer’s/Dementia

Author Judith A. Levy, EdM, OTR, has been an occupational therapist for the past 40 years, providing professional geriatric care. In more recent years she has been the caregiver for her mom, who contracted dementia at 88. Through her extensive experience both as a professional and as a caregiver daughter, Judith has created a book chock full of ideas and activities to enrich daily life for your loved one, making the time spent together more enjoyable.

This book can prove to be very helpful for a first-time caregiver, as it points out medical concerns to be addressed initially for the well being of a parent or loved one when differences in behavior or functional skills are first noticed. What follows are suggestions about scheduling a physician visit for the loved one and how best to be prepared for the appointment.

As activities are introduced, suggestions are provided about the best time of day, where and how to do an activity, alleviating distractions, where you should be seated, and even how you speak with your parent or loved one during the activity.

Speaking from a voice of experience, the author emphasizes keeping in mind that what your parent or loved one wants most is to please you.

In the author’s words: “In your parent’s past, everything might have come easily to him or her; with the onset of dementia, however, you will find that this ease has markedly changed. He or she will become frustrated, as will you. So step back and take a deep breath. Offer directions in simple one- to two-step commands, repeating them as needed to help stimulate his or her memory. Don’t forget to offer words of praise. Tell him or her, “What a good job you have done” or “I am proud of you.” This reinforcement will go a long way toward his or her success.

If your parent or loved one remains frustrated with an activity you have chosen to do, stop. Assess what you are doing. Why isn’t it working? Is your parent hungry or physically uncomfortable? Is it a beautiful day? Would he or she rather be outside? Is he or she too tired? Does your parent just not like what you are offering? Ask him or her. Though your parent or loved one may have dementia, he or she still has opinions.”

The author says some activities she has included might seem juvenile to us; however, she found that her mother enjoyed doing them. She encourages us to try them. What’s important is that the activities are familiar and stimulate long-term memory. Lastly, most of the activities included in this book were with her mother in mind; however, they are meant to be gender neutral, suitable for males and females.

An assessment sheet is offered after each activity. It can be used to document how well the activity went. Also, it can serve as a reminder whether something didn’t work well and how you changed it. The assessment sheet can also be used as a framework for teaching someone else what to do, enabling consistency when he or she acts as your replacement.

To order your own copy of “Activities to Do with Your Parent Who Has Alzheimer’s Dementia“, order from This book can be a great resource for facility activities directors.

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