Home Instead Blog

Practical activities for interacting with an Alzheimer's patient
Mar 10, 2014


By completing practical exercises while spending time with an Alzheimer's patient’ could be in fact be extremely helpful.

Are you not completely sure how to spend your visits with a loved one who suffers from Alzheimer’s? Now is the time to take control and take him/her somewhere you'll both love going. Staying mentally involved is said to be known for slowing down the disease progression and reduce the irritation & boredom that can lead to worsened behavioural symptoms (like aggression, wandering, and rummaging).


Warning: If an activity seems to stress or frustrate him/her, STOP! Shared activities with Alzheimer Patients should be fun to do and not a test.


  • Keep your expectations realistic: Consider what she/he can do, rather than what she/he used to do.
  • Stick to short, simple plans. Avoid detailed projects.
  • Keep your remarks positive and reassuring.
  • Avoid treating her/him like a baby (talking down to her/him)
  • Watch out for important signals -- such as greater distraction or distress – that may  indicate that she/he are confused, tired, or otherwise uncomfortable. This signals it's time to stop.
  • Make the most of the skills and interests she/he recalls.
  • Take your time and be very patient.

Cook together

The perfect recipe is one the patient has cooked themselves for years but that you also know, so that you can help with if she/he gets confused or puzzled.


  • Remove all clutter from your workspace before you begin.
  • Place out all tools and ingredients you'll need before you get started.
  • Concentrate on one step at a time.
  • Avoid the urge to try "test" her/him on what step comes next in a recipe.
  • Stop when she/he is tired and, if you can, store the current project to resume at the same place the next day.
  • Call family/friends over to taste & share the finished product – she/he will love both the sense of accomplishment and the companionship. A shared meal won't drain her/him out as easily as a regular long family visit might.



Play cards or other games

Games can attract both to lifelong players who miss their former pastime as well as to those who never displayed much interest before.


  • Propose playing a game of cards or a fun board game that's familiar her/him, such as dominoes. Games are simplest when they date back to their childhood (like Old Maid or Go Fish) or have been played regularly for a long time.
  • If she/he really likes a more difficult game (such as bridge) but has lost some of their ability to remember rules or follow the game, play in teams so they have a partner to help them.
  • Bingo is an old reliable for many people. Many seniors enjoy bingo for its social aspect, and it also works outs the memory. You can find games at many local community centers, and nursing homes. If he/she is a long-time player, they'll know the various locations and value being able to continue attending.

Celebrate the current season

When the seasons change, think about activities that have to do with upcoming season in general.


  • Support him/her decorate their home correctly for the current season. Even though he/she may no longer be able to handle the hands-on work, they may enjoy picking which items to use and where things should go. Just make sure you don't overdo it -- changing their home environment too much or adding too many distractions could end up been confusing.
  • Try doing an arts and crafts activity together to create a seasonal decoration, such as a flower arrangement for the table.  
  • Look for religious services or performances that tie into the season. Attend low-key performances, such as those on midweek afternoons, to make the outing less stressful. Avoid evening events if this is a time when their behaviours worsen.
  • Take a nice walk, if she/he is able, or go for a drive. It’s nice to change the scenery  every now and then.

Read together

  • Reading is a hobby that is often deserted because of bad eyesight or a lost ability to follow along. Yet it can be a good way to keep one's mind active because it brings up topics to think and talk about, and it can be a source of pleasure and relaxation for a lifelong reader.
  • Read aloud. The advantage of reading aloud over books on tape is that the latter can be hard to follow unless a patient's Alzheimer's is still early. When you read aloud to her/him, you can follow her cues and stop to answer questions, discuss, or rest. Choose their favourite books or authors to reread; try a chapter a day. This is a good activity for an older grandchild to engage in during visits with their grandparent.
  • See if their favourite reading materials have large-print editions.


Are you are caring for a loved one with Alzheimer's or other Dementia??  why not attend a Home Instead Senior Care Dementia workshop!!

To Register for a Dementia workshop Click Here