Intergenerational Family Activities When a Senior has Alzheimer's
When a grandparent or other family elder has Alzheimer’s disease, finding meaningful ways for families to spend time together can seem difficult. Memory loss and struggles with abstract thought processes might make it difficult to play board games and other activities you’ve always enjoyed together.
Spending time with loved ones is essential for people with Alzheimer’s. They may not be able to remember specific daily memories, but when an adult has memory loss, the feelings of happiness they create do remain. That’s why it’s important to have a list of intergenerational activities you can all engage in together.
Activities to Enjoy With a Loved One Who Has Alzheimer’s
In honor of National Family Fun Month, we have a few ideas to help you get started.
Physical fitness activities can be a great way to spend time with a loved one who has Alzheimer’s disease. Here are a few you can enjoy together:
- Go for a nature walk in an area park or botanical garden—some even have accessible trails if your loved one has difficulty walking long distances and requires a wheelchair.
- Have a standing date in the living room once or twice a week to practice chair yoga or gentle stretches together.
Each of these activities may help to calm the agitation, stress, and anxiety that are common struggles for people with Alzheimer’s.
Music’s healing harmonies have well-documented therapeutic benefits for people with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Even people who have more advanced memory loss can often connect to pleasant memories through music. It can be another activity several generations of a family can enjoy together.
Create a playlist of music from your loved one’s generation to listen to together. If your loved one is able to dance, try adding a little upbeat music to the mix. Even the younger generation might enjoy dancing to the oldies in the living room.
Gardening and Nature
Another life enrichment activity shown to have positive mental and physical health benefits for people of all ages and health statuses is connecting with nature. Spending time gardening or enjoying the great outdoors can soothe agitation and lift the spirit. Caring for a garden can also help a senior with memory loss feel productive.
- A raised garden, container garden, or window box are easy for older adults who struggle with balance or mobility. A sensory herb garden or fragrant flower garden offer even more benefits.
- Birdwatching is another intergenerational activity to consider. You can enjoy it in your own backyard or at an area park. Family members can take pictures of the birds you see (flowers and plants, too!) and look their names up online. Use the photos to create a birdwatching journal or even a family calendar.
Be sure to learn how to identify poison ivy and oak so you don’t develop a painful rash. Adults with Alzheimer’s may also try to put good-smelling plants in their mouth, so avoid plants that are harmful if ingested.
Arts and Crafts Projects
Arts and crafts projects are another great option because they can be adapted for a variety of ability levels. Here are a few ideas for your family to try:
- Acrylic or watercolor painting
- Putting together a family scrapbook
- Creating a stepping stone with family handprints
- Making necklaces or bracelets from beads
- Arranging fresh flowers in a vase
Whatever activity you choose, remember that simple ones that don’t rely on memory are usually best for adults with Alzheimer’s.
To learn more, visit “How Sunrise Residents Live With Legacy.” On this page, we share information and a video on how engaging in intergenerational activities can promote cognitive stimulation.