Posts Tagged activities for men with dementia

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, 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.


Leave a Comment

Alzheimer’s Chicken

Measure of the Heart

This activity idea comes from Measure of the Heart, a novel by Mary Ellen Geist, recounting her personal experience of returning home to Michigan to help care for her father who is diagnosed with dementia. Her father, Woody Geist, also appears in the HBO documentary “The Alzheimer’s Project”. The Geist’s resilience and candor in the face of this devastating disease is truly inspirational.

The following excerpt is taken directly from the book:

Alzheimer’s Chicken

  • whole chicken, about 4 pounds
  • 1 green apple, washed and cored
  • 3 stalks of celery, rinsed
  • 1 yellow or white onion, skin removed
  • several sprigs of fresh rosemary, sage, and thyme, rinsed
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 3 tbs olive oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Rinse a 4-pound roasting chicken, removing and discarding the giblets from the cavity.

Place the green apple, celery, onion, and herbs on a large chopping board. Hand a not-so-sharp knife to the Alzheimer’s patient, depending of course on how far the disease has progressed. It may not be wise to do this for Alzheimer’s patients who’ve been living with the disease for more than ten years, but my father can still safely use a knife if I stand next to him and make sure he isn’t holding it upside down.

Let the patient chop up the fruit, vegetables, and herbs however the hell he or she wants to, without hovering and explaining how to do it! Don’t say: “No! Do it like this!” Remember: It doesn’t matter what the chunks look like or how big or small they are. The process can be liberating not only for the patient but also for you.

Open the cavity of the chicken and have the Alzheimer’s patient help you stuff the bird with a big wooden spoon. Put the chicken in a 9×13 inch baking dish or pan. Pour the red wine, olive oil, and a little water over the stuffed bird. Cook it in the oven at 350 degrees F for at least two hours, until the temperature of the thigh reaches 180 degrees F. Have the Alzheimer’s patient help you baste the bird often. Let it sit a bit after you’ve taken it out of the oven; then slice and serve.


Leave a Comment

Paint Rocks

lady bug rocks


Painting can be a relaxing activity that captures your person’s attention and keeps them focused. By keeping your person with dementia zeroed in on an activity, he/she is more likely to feel content, and behavioral concerns are less likely to appear. Recent research suggests that artistic activities may help individuals with dementia to express complex emotions, particularly when language ability fades. Art also provides intellectual stimulation for the person, which may help to keep cognitive powers sharp (although nothing can prevent dementia from progressing).

Furthermore, painting or (in this case) painting rocks is an activity that can be easily adjusted depending on the person’s remaining strengths and abilities. For instance, someone in the early stages of the disease may be able to execute a multi-step project over the course of a couple of sessions. The first session could consist of cleaning and sanding stones. The next session may involve painting a base color on a couple of rocks. The last session may include finer details (such as those seen in the ladybug picture).

Someone who is further progressed may do better with a shorter-term project with fewer steps, such as only painting rocks in solid colors or arranging (already painted) rocks in a decorative way. Even watching you paint or admiring your finished handiwork, might be pleasurable activities for someone in the later stages of the disease.

garden markers 2 garden markers

Materials you will need:

  • Smooth rocks (either found outdoors or purchased from a craft store)
  • Assorted acrylic paints
  • Paint brushes (various types)
  • Palette or mixing tray (e.g. paper plate, tin foil, styrofoam cup)

Helpful Hints:

  • As dementia progresses, the individual will need more supervision and guidance.
  • Consider using simple patterns for your design. Or you could add in more intricate details yourself, if desired.
  • Wear a painting smock or old set of clothing that is ok to get dirty.
  • Check out library books (such as those by Lin Wellford) for inspiration and step-by-step instruction.
  • Be alert to signs of frustration or boredom. Adjust the activity, so that it is a good match for the person based on their remaining strengths.
  • If the activity goes awry or causes the person to become agitated, be prepared to stop.
  • Your finished rocks can be used as decoration, such as on a countertop or in a garden. A functional use for painted rocks is to use them as garden markers for various plants/herbs (pictured above).


Leave a Comment

Namaste! Do Some Yoga

yoga for senior citizens

The benefits of yoga are well-documented by research. In fact, some researchers suggest that yoga may have the ability to improve sleep [4], decrease chronic inflammation [5], and even slow the aging process [2]. One study [1] found that over the course of an 8-week yoga and compassion meditation intervention, familial caregivers of persons with dementia had statistically significant decreases in reported stress, anxiety, and depression, in addition to lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol.

Still looking for a reason to try yoga? Recent research [3] suggests that regular participation in yoga may be rather beneficial for individuals with dementia. Some of the benefits cited include decreased behavioral issues, increased physical functioning, and improved muscle strength and agility.

So what is yoga? “Yoga is an ancient East Indian practice that utilizes mind, body, and spirit to balance our systems. Yoga combines flexibility, balance, strength, breathing, and meditation through a series of stationary poses that use isometric contraction and relaxation of different muscle groups to create specific body alignments” [3] Yoga’s definition is very broad and can be interpreted in different ways. For instance, someone with limited mobility can implement yogic exercises in the form of chair yoga. Yoga instructors and enthusiasts can often recommend adaptations to traditional yoga exercises, if certain movements are problematic.

Try out some of the yoga poses below at home. If you prefer to follow along with an instructor, consider renting a yoga DVD for free from your local library or find free YouTube videos online. Be very mindful of physical limitations, and if necessary, consult a physician to ensure that this type of exercise is appropriate for you and your person.

Lily Pads

chair yoga 2

My favorite….don’t forget to…





Rest in savasana when you need to take a break or at the end of your yoga routine. Let the tension from your body sink into the floor. Let all of the stresses from the day melt off of your body. Concentrate on the rhythm of your breathing as you deliberately and consciously take full breaths in and out. If your mind wanders, gently redirect your attention to your breath and the stillness of your body. Become aware of how good your body feels to rest and restore.



 1 Danucalov, M. D., Kozasa, E. H., Ribas, K. T., Galduróz, J. F., Garcia, M. C., Verreschi, I. N., Oliveira, K.C., Romani de Oliveira, L., &  Leite, J. R. (2013). A Yoga and Compassion Meditation Program Reduces Stress in Familial Caregivers of Alzheimer’s Disease Patients. Evidence-Based Complementary & Alternative Medicine (Ecam), 1-8. doi:10.1155/2013/513149

 2 Lavretsky, H. M. (2013). A pilot study of yogic meditation for family dementia caregivers with depressive symptoms: effects on mental health, cognition, and telomerase activity A pilot study of yogic meditation for family dementia caregivers with depressive symptoms: effects.. International Journal Of Geriatric Psychiatry, 28(1), 57-65.

 3 Litchke, L. G., & Hodges, J. S. (2014). The Meaning of “Now” Moments of Engagement in Yoga for Persons With Alzheimer’s Disease. Therapeutic Recreation Journal, 48(3), 229-246.

 4 Staples, J. K., Hamilton, M. F., & Uddo, M. (2013). A yoga program for the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder in veterans. Military Medicine,178(8), 854-860. doi:10.7205/MILMED-D-12-00536

 5 Yadav, R. K., Magan, D., Mehta, N., Sharma, R., & Mahapatra, S. C. (2012). Efficacy of a Short-Term Yoga-Based Lifestyle Intervention in Reducing Stress and Inflammation: Preliminary Results. Journal Of Alternative & Complementary Medicine, 18(7), 662-667. doi:10.1089/acm.2011.0265

Leave a Comment

Find an Indoor Walking Path

indoor walking path


In the Midwest and other regions in the U.S., we have dealt with subzero temperatures, snowfall by the inches, and slippery, unsafe conditions for the past several days. If you usually enjoy being outside in fresh air, you might be finding it difficult to adjust to your new snowbound status. Most individuals spend more time indoors during the winter, but this is even more pronounced in older adults, those with dementia, and their caregivers. Persons with dementia may experience increased confusion due to shorter days, less sunlight, and disruptions from a normal routine. He/she may also exhibit “wandering” behavior which includes walking or pacing about and trying to leave a safe environment. Although not all wandering is bad, unsafe wandering has the potential to turn into a very dangerous situation.

To keep behavioral issues at bay, prevent unsafe wandering, and maintain levels of physical activity, consider frequenting a local indoor walking path or create a safe path to walk inside your own home. Many say that walking is one of the best exercises because it requires very little equipment, can be done almost anywhere, and can be done by almost anyone. Furthermore, walking with your person with dementia can help to channel wandering behavior into a safe outlet. As human beings, we have inherent impulses that drive us to be active and to seek out activity. Therefore, be deliberate in making sure your person is being stimulated and challenged at a comfortable level. And don’t worry, winter won’t last forever! :)

Leave a Comment

Listen to and/or Sing Holiday Music

holiday music 2


Holiday music is an excellent medium to connect with our person with dementia. Whether we are singing fragments of songs throughout the day, or playing ambient music while baking a special treat, we can incorporate a little bit of holiday magic into our person’s day.

Stay warm, take care of yourself, laugh a lot, spend time with those you care about, and have a prosperous new year! Be safe and enjoy the holiday season!!

Leave a Comment

Play Shake Loose a Memory!

shake loose a memoryshake loose a memory 2

This game is the best conversation starter! It also provides a wonderful opportunity to reminisce with your person. Shake Loose a Memory contains a single die. Participants roll the die to see which card they should receive. Each card begins with a simple instruction, such as “Keep this card if you have driven a tractor.” If yes, the person will respond to the question posed at the bottom of the card, such as “Remember sitting in the driver’s seat?”. If no, the individual would roll again and draw a new card. Like with other games and activities, the focus should not be on ‘winning’ or providing the ‘best’ answer. It is about connecting meaningfully with the person and allowing them to share a piece of their history with you. Have fun with it! :)

To learn more or to purchase this product, follow this link.

Leave a Comment

Older Posts »

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,188 other followers