Posts Tagged outside dementia activities

2016 Metro Detroit Fall Conference: A Meaningful Life with Alzheimer’s Disease

Early bird registration for our 5th Annual Metro Detroit Fall Conference “A Meaningful Life with Alzheimer’s Disease”, done in collaboration with Wayne State University’s Institute of Gerontology, is now open! The conference will bring together healthcare professionals, caregivers, family members, and individuals living with the early stages of memory loss on Friday, November 18th at Schoolcraft College’s VisTaTech Center in Livonia. Registration includes an entry to the conference, breakfast, lunch, as well as five continuing education credits for professionals.


We are pleased to announce this year’s keynote speaker will be Beth A. D. Nolan, Ph.D.

Dr. Nolan serves as a Lead Mentor Trainer and Coach and directs research for Positive Approach to Care (PAC). Formerly an Assistant Professor at the University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Public Health, Dr. Nolan received her Ph.D. in applied gerontology. She has worked with a variety of human services agencies to implement evidence-based programs for behavioral health, criminal justice, medicine, and senior living, and now works to help move caregivers to become carepartners.

Conference attendees will gain powerful insight into the true experiences of living with dementia as well as practical applications for implementing person driven care and methods to enhance quality of life. You will hear from individuals whose lives have been personally affected by this disease, engage in interactive activities and discover new resources and tools to assist families through their dementia journey.


To learn more visit

or call our 24/7 Helpline at 800.272.3900

We hope to see you on November 18th!


This conference is sponsored in part by Schoolcraft College.


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The Night Shift cast Invites You to Fight Alzheimer’s on The Longest Day®

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Join a Support Group


Yes! People with memory loss can join support groups! And they should! As I’m sure you know, having memory changes is a huge adjustment, and for those who still have insight into these changes, meeting with others who understand what they’re going through can be a great way to get support, feel validated, not have to worry about “hiding” any problems, and learn tips and tricks to keep living life as fully as possible. Where to find such groups? Your local hospital, community center, senior, or local chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association are great places to start.

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Play with a Zip Ball

swoosh ball

Zip balls, swoosh balls, zoom balls…whatever “brand” you use, they’re all an equally fun way to get a little upper body exercise. Just grab the handles, walk away from your partner till the ropes are taut and then pass the ball from one end to the other by moving your arms outward while your partner moves theirs together. This simple, rhythmic activity is easy for people with even very limited memory to do. According an occupational therapist friend of mine, these motions help elps build coordination and arm strength, so that’s a great bonus! You can buy these types of toys at most “big box” stores or toy stores, or online here or here!

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Go Swimming


Summer is officially in full swing, so that means it’s beach/pool time! Swimming is great exercise because the water offer resistance, yet it’s low impact. Those with memory loss can certainly enjoy a day of swimming (or wading, or just sticking a toe in!) in the water. As with any activity, you’ll want to make appropriate precautions based on the person’s level of impairment. This can range from just making sure they wear extra sunscreen, as many medications make you more prone to burning in the sun, to chosing a less crowded location where teh person is less likely to get overwhelmed, to making sure someone is always providing supervision for safety. Whether you choose a beach or a pool; to swim laps or doggies paddle; wear swim trunks or a speedo, taking some time to enjoy the water can be a fun way to break out of your usual daily routine.

While you’re out, be sure to ask questions that encourage the person to reminisce. You might ask:
How did you learn to swim?
What is your favorite memory involving swimming/the water?
What did bathing suits look like when you were growing up? What do you think about today’s styles?

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Go to a Baseball Game


The weather is warming up and the days are getting longer. That can mean only one thing-baseball season is really heating up! So why not take the person with dementia to a baseball game! Any fan knows that watching a game in person is even more fun that watching it on TV, and even non-fans might catch the excitement in the stadium. If they done, well, then they can always enjoy the food, the people watching, or if you’re lucky enough to be in a newer stadium like our Detroit Tigers, the other things to do like the carousel or the fireworks! A baseball game is a great options for people with memory loss in the later stages because unlike a movie or a concert, no one cares if you talk, get up and move around, or even if you fall asleep! If the person with memory loss is unsteady on his/her feet, be sure to get handicapped seating so you don’t have to climb the stair in the bleachers, which often don’t have railings. Many stadiums also have benches rather than seats with backs, so you might want to check on that before you order tickets. You might also want to consider bringing a seat cushion as those hard seats can be uncomfortable to sit on, and the person with memory loss may not be able to ignore or work through feelings of discomfort as well as someone with normal cognition.

All those caveats aside, attending a baseball game really is a fun way to spend and afternoon! Just ask this lucky lady who caught a home run ball!

Last but not least, going to a baseball game is a great way to start reminiscing. You can ask about games they may have attending in the past, old favorite players, if they played baseball as a kid or if they coached their child’s team, etc.

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Relieve Stress with the Great Outdoors


Have you ever noticed that when we change our focus to animals and nature we relax? Well, people with memory loss experience it too! Fortunately, we live in a beautiful state with many opportunities to enjoy the outdoors. There are some of the most enjoyable state parks within thirty minutes of the Detroit metro area. You can take a leisurely ride, walk, hike, learn at the nature center, volunteer, or just sit and enjoy the view.
Here are some suggestions:
Kensington Metro Park is a scenic 4,486 acre recreational facility that provides year-round fun for all ages.
Activities to participate in: Kensington Critters (live displays of various snakes, turtles and fish), Farmer for a Day (including seeing an active beehive), Astronomy on the Beach, seasonal birding programs (now is a great time to see migratory birds), sell-guided nature hikes, bike rides, and lots more!

For more information, visit their website at or call 810-227-8917. For those who aren’t lucky enough to live near Kensington, try searching your state’s website to find parks close to you and the programs they offer.

Happy Fall!

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Make a Leaf Collection

As the autumn season starts, a leaf collection is a fun way to get outside and engage with the beautiful color transformation of fall foliage. Making a leaf collection can be broken into two activities:
1. The walk to collect the leaves and preserve them,
2. The art project of collection assembly for display.

For a person in the early stages, it may be interesting to search for specific leaves by the scientific or common name and label them when creating the display. For those in the middle stages, looking for a variety of shapes and colors would be a good way to tailor the project.

You can use these guides to determine what leaves you are collecting.
Simple tree guide:
Thorough science guide:

What you will need to press leaves and create a display:
Wax paper
Heavy books or iron
Art supplies for displaying leaves (construction paper, notebook, greeting cards, poster,etc)
Acid free tape or glue

Once you have collected the leaves you will need to press them to preserve them.
1. Cut wax paper big enough for leaves to lay flat
2. Cover leaves with another layer of wax paper
3. Stack heavy books on top of leaf in wax paper
4. It may take several days for a leaf to dry out.

Or, click here for faster leaf preservation instructions.

After preserving the leaves, you can use acid-free tape to secure them to your chosen display medium (construction paper, poster, notebook, greeting cards, etc). Now you have a beautiful piece of art or a scientific plant book and got a little exercise and fresh air.

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Play Croquet

I have very fond memories of playing croquet at family reunions as a child, but as I started to write this post, I realized that I couldn’t really remember the rules. Of course, I turned the trusty internet to remind me. After reading a few articles on various websites, I now know why I couldn’t remember–the rules are really complicated! Well, that and I’m not so sure that we ever really played by the rules.

If you want the official rules, please visit, as the order you are supposed to follow as you hit your ball through the wickets (metal arches) is too complex for me to explain here. However, if you read them and scratch your head, as I did, don’t worry–just make up your own order. Heck, you can even make up the shape of the course (my family did!).

For those who have played croquet before and remember the rules, playing with the official set-up and rules may be best, but for everyone else, just set up some wickets, grab a mallet and a ball or two and have fun taking turns trying to hit the ball through the wickets. Those with more moderate memory loss will likely do best if you only point out the next wicket to shoot for, rather than explaining the order of the entire course. If you need a solo activity, why not set up a croquet “putting course” and have the person practice hitting the ball through the wicket. You might find they have more fun and less frustration without the interruption that taking turns hitting the ball can bring.

Of course, no matter what rules you follow (or make up!), playing croquet can be a good jumping off point for reminiscing. You can ask if they’ve played before, what other summer games they played, or even if they remember the scene in Alice in Wonderland where they play croquet with flamingos and hedgehogs instead of mallets and balls!

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Make Cheerios Bird Feeders

cheerio shapes

Birds don’t just need to eat in the winter, but in the summer time, too. Stringing Cheerios on string and hanging it outside is a classic way to get some new feathered friends to visit the garden. An oversized plastic needle (found at your local arts and crafts store), a piece of strong with a knot on the end, and a box of Cheerios are all you need. However, if you want to get fancy, you can make shapes, like the ones in the picture above, directions courtesy of
You’ll need:
Pipe cleaners

1.To make a straight bird feeder, fold 1 inch of one end of the pipe cleaner back and twist the end around the pipe cleaner to make a small loop.
2.Feed Cheerios on the pipe cleaner, stopping about 2 inches from the top of the pipe cleaner.
3.Fold the top of the pipe cleaner to make another loop and twist the end to keep it in place.
4.To make a shaped bird feeder, first bend the pipe cleaner into a fun shape like a heart or a star.
5.Feed the Cheerios on the pipe cleaner, leaving about 1 inch on each end of the pipe cleaner.
6.Twist the ends of the pipe cleaner together to close it.

I don’t know why you couldn’t string the Cheerios on, then bend it into a fun shape, but I’m not going to question the authors. However, I will say that the stiffness of the pipe cleaner might make it easier to string than a needle and thread, so look into this option if fine motor manipulation is hard for your person with memory loss.

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