Woman and Mature Woman Hugging in the Kitchen

Did you know that November is National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month and National Family Caregivers Month? Many of us know firsthand the challenges that caregivng can bring, and yet, so often the work of the caregiver goes unacknowledged or unappreciated.

Join the Alzheimer’s Association in honoring the dedication of caregivers by sharing a personal tribute message on our page at alz.org/honor.

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Play with Gak or Silly Putty

gak-5silly puttyhomemade-gak-recipe2

This blog is no stranger to sensory-based activities. And why not? As dementia progresses, sensory stimulation is a prime way to foster meaningful connection, particularly as language ability fades. So here goes, another fun-filled sensory activity sure to tap into your creative side!

Does anyone remember playing with Gak or Silly Putty as a kid? And by ‘play’ I mean stretch, goosh and mush, and use the silly putty to lift the newsprint off of newspaper or comics. These can be great choices of activities because there is no right or wrong way to perform, and there is no established beginning or end point. In many ways, it really is fail-proof. However, always ensure safety and be cautious that your person does not try to ingest the putty/gak.

Gak and putty can be purchased at many toy retailers. Also, the web is chock full of DIY gak and putty recipes (usually with as little as 4 ingredients). Another plus, if you make your own, you can experiment with different colors.

Take, for instance, this homemade gak recipe accessed from livingwellmom.com, which takes less than 5 minutes to make and requires only school glue, water, Borax (can be found in the Laundry aisle) and food coloring (optional).

Happy gak-ing everybody! ;)


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Enjoy A Cool Glass of Delicious Lemonade or Iced Tea


It’s July. For most of us, this time of year is filled with sunshine, beaches, barbecues, and the like. In fact, what would summer be if it lacked the many traditions that have become so ingrained in our culture? However, many individuals with Alzheimer’s disease might be excluded from such activities. If it has become difficult to go on outings, for instance, or to leave the home for extended periods of time, our traditional ideas of ‘summer fun’ may be out of the question for our family member with dementia.

iced tea

Bring summer indoors by enjoying a cool, crisp, delicious glass of ice-cold lemonade or freshly brewed iced tea. These summer staples are not only refreshing and oh-so-good, but they may bring back memories and feelings from summers long ago. Sip on these cool beverages with your loved one while encouraging them to reminisce about the past. Or just chit-chat while you sit in your most comfortable chairs. Even individuals that are no longer verbal will likely enjoy this special treat and companionship. Another bonus: fluids are extremely important to physical health and cognitive function, and yet many elders do not get enough. Use this activity to encourage your loved one to stay hydrated through the hot summer months.

strawberry lemonade










Below is a recipe taken from foodnetwork.com, which boasts the Perfect Homemade Lemonade. Try this or another recipe for you and your loved one to enjoy. If your person is able, they might like to help you by juicing the lemons. If sugar is a concern, consider using a sugar alternative or swap the lemonade for ice water with a wedge of lemon. Have fun, and stay cool! :)


  • 4 cups sugar
  • 4 cups fresh lemon juice
  • 2 lemons, sliced
  • Ice for serving


In a large saucepan, heat the sugar and 4 cups water until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is hot. Allow to cool, and then place into a large drink dispenser or jug. Add 2 gallons cold water, the lemon juice and lemon slices and stir to combine. Refrigerate and allow to chill completely.


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Brush or Stroke Hair

As caregivers, it is important for us to identify passive activities, as well as action-oriented ones, in which to engage our loved ones. Especially as the disease progresses further and the person’s abilities diminish, passive involvement may become more appropriate. Another plus: passive activities are extremely versatile — virtually anyone at any stage of dementia can find pleasure in them.

brush or stroke hair

Have you ever had someone brush or stroke your hair? It’s enjoyable for a lot of us (just look at the smile on that baby!). Brushing or playing with your loved one’s hair is an excellent way to foster meaningful connection, especially if language is no longer accessible. In the absence of words, we can communicate love, care, and reassurance through our touch. Older adults in particular may benefit from this type of interaction as many are touch deprived.

At your next opportunity, try this out with your person with dementia. You could simply touch the person’s hair, or brush, stroke, braid, style, wash, etc. See if you notice any nonverbal feedback from your person that indicates whether they are enjoying what you are doing (e.g. eyes closing, body relaxing). Of course, if you observe signs that suggest pain, such as grimacing or wincing, do not continue with that type or intensity of touch.


Love, K., & Femia, E. (2014). The comfort of touch. Health Progress, 95(6), 28-31.

Nicholls, D., Chang, E., Johnson, A., & Edenborough, M. (2013). Touch, the essence of caring for people with end-stage dementia: A mental health perspective in Namaste Care. Aging & Mental Health, 17(5), 571-578. doi:10.1080/13607863.2012.751581

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Download the Charity Miles App

charity miles app


It’s now easy to raise money for charity without opening your wallet. With the Charity Miles app, every mile counts. Walk, run or bike to #ENDALZ!

Charity Miles, a free iPhone/Android app enables individuals to raise funds for charity, courtesy of the app’s corporate sponsors. Walkers and runners can earn 25 cents per mile and bikers can earn 10 cents per mile to benefit the Alzheimer’s Association. Charity Miles is a fun and easy way to raise funds at no cost to the user.

How it Works

  1. Download the free Charity Miles app to your iPhone or Android from the app store.
  2. Create an account by logging in with your email address or through Facebook.
  3. Choose the Alzheimer’s Association from the list of charities.
  4. Select whether you are walking, running or biking from the top activities bar.
  5. Press Start and get going.
  6. Walkers and runner earn 25 cents per mile; bikers earn 10 cents per mile, courtesy of sponsors secured by Charity Miles.
  7. When finished, swipe up on the screen and follow the steps as prompted on the screen to save your miles
  8. If you are grateful for the sponsor’s support, please be sure to thank them when prompted.
  9. Spread the word! The easiest way to double your impact is to get a friend to join you!


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2015 Alzheimer’s Association Facts and Figures

See the full report by clicking here.

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10 Ways to Love Your Brain


Given the growing evidence that people can reduce their risk of cognitive decline, and in recognition of Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month in June, the Alzheimer’s Association and its experts are sharing 10 Ways to Love Your Brain, tips that may reduce the risk of cognitive decline:

1. Break a sweat. Engage in regular cardiovascular exercise that elevates your heart rate and increases blood flow to the brain and body. Several studies have found an association between physical activity and reduced risk of cognitive decline.

2. Hit the books. Formal education in any stage of life will help reduce your risk of cognitive decline and dementia. For example, take a class at a local college, community center or online.

3. Butt out. Evidence shows that smoking increases risk of cognitive decline. Quitting smoking can reduce that risk to levels comparable to those who have not smoked.

4. Follow your heart. Evidence shows that risk factors for cardiovascular disease and stroke – obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes – negatively impact your cognitive health. Take care of your heart, and your brain just might follow.

5. Heads up! Brain injury can raise your risk of cognitive decline and dementia. Wear a seat belt, use a helmet when playing contact sports or riding a bike, and take steps to prevent falls.

6. Fuel up right. Eat a healthy and balanced diet that is lower in fat and higher in vegetables and fruit to help reduce the risk of cognitive decline. Although research on diet and cognitive function is limited, certain diets, including Mediterranean and Mediterranean-DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension), may contribute to risk reduction.

7. Catch some Zzz’s. Not getting enough sleep due to conditions like insomnia or sleep apnea may result in problems with memory and thinking.

8. Take care of your mental health. Some studies link a history of depression with increased risk of cognitive decline, so seek medical treatment if you have symptoms of depression, anxiety or other mental health concerns. Also, try to manage stress.

9. Buddy up. Staying socially engaged may support brain health. Pursue social activities that are meaningful to you. Find ways to be part of your local community – if you love animals, consider volunteering at a local shelter. If you enjoy singing, join a local choir or help at an afterschool program. Or, just share activities with friends and family.

10. Stump yourself. Challenge and activate your mind. Build a piece of furniture. Complete a jigsaw puzzle. Do something artistic. Play games, such as bridge, that make you think strategically. Challenging your mind may have short and long-term benefits for your brain.

To learn more, click here: abam2015_infographic


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