Because the COVID-19 pandemic has many people staying at home, the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA) has suggestions about activities to help patients and their families stay active and engaged.
“Staying active and engaged can help improve mood, reduce stress and avoid caregiver burnout, and it’s even more important at a time when people are staying indoors for prolonged periods,” he added. “There are many fun activities caregivers can do with their loved ones to help exercise their minds together, using things they already have at home.”
One suggested activity has to do with reminiscing, which promotes memory recall, improves overall quality of life, lowers stress levels, and provides a novel way to connect and communicate with others. Frequently combined with art and music therapy, these comforting activities can also enhance sleep quality, mood, and mental alertness, the foundation said. Suggestions for caregivers include looking through family photos with their loved one, playing music the patient enjoys, and dancing together to favorite music.
Another activity involves tactile stimulation — the sensation of touch and texture. The AFA suggests using items of various textures, sizes, and shapes, which helps patients recognize and differentiate between temperature, pain, and body position. Benefits include improved overall psychological wellness, self-esteem, and self-expression, and enhanced alertness and focus.
Tactile activities can include “playing” with adult-appropriate stuffed animals, flower arranging, tasks such as matching individual socks or towel folding, and arts and crafts projects such as creating a collage.
Activities that challenge and stimulate the brain can help keep the patient’s mind active and improve memory, concentration, and cognition. Brain exercises include trivia, word puzzles, and memory games. Reading books and storytelling are other suggestions.
Studies have shown that social connections foster feelings of well-being while staving off depression. Interactions with others can include video chats, text messaging, email messages, phone calls, mailing cards or letters, sharing photos electronically or by mail, or connecting through social media.
In addition, the AFA offers virtual community classes through its Facebook page. Programs are facilitated by professionals and include movement/dance, music and art therapies, fitness classes, and Broadway vocal performances.
The organization also recommends that patients and caregivers use a computer or mobile device to take popular virtual tours — readily found online — of favorite cities, museums, or other sites.
Another suggestion is to simply ask loved ones with Alzheimer’s what they like to do, and find an activity that incorporates those interests.
Call the AFA hotline (866-232-8484) for more information about therapeutic programming during this time of social distancing. Or visit the foundation’s website, and click on the blue and white chat icon on the bottom right-hand corner.
View this AFA webpage for more virtual events.
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