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Alzheimer’s – Cliff Notes

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Activities for Alzheimer’s – Cliff Notes

M. Celeste Chase, AC-BC, ACC, CDP


  • Look for adaptive strategies & techniques that focus on strengths/skills that the individual still posses
  • Allow the individual to retain as much control possible to help foster a sense of personal dignity
  • Integrate “chunking” methods - (simplify tasks -> break down step by step)
  • Attention span may have limited so plan programs of no more than 20 to 45 minutes of time segments.
  • Programs are most effective when they are multi-sensory & spanned over consecutive days (facilitate memory input) and are connected to a related theme.


Remember: Loss of memory creates an inability for the individual to remember what they did in the past thus, cannot use that input for themselves to find amusement. However, this population may still have the ability to [be amused] well into the disease process.


  • Incorporate events that “elicit” a response through use of basic sensory stimulation & awareness of his/her body movements.


          Sensory Integration would focus on any combination of the following:

  • Visual (eyes)
  • Auditory (ears
  • Proprioceptors (awareness of body position)
  • Vestibular (balance)
  • Tactile (touch, feel)
  • Olfaction (smell)
  • Gustatory (taste)


  1. Sensory Books
    Provide colorful & tactile sensory books to look at and touch.

  2. Stuffed Toys
    Offer stuffed toys to cuddle.


  1. Baby dolls – baby doll clothes

        Provides opportunity to fosters nurturing characteristics. The goal is not to dress the doll properly, but              rather to “elicit” the desire to change the doll’s clothing whilist working on hand eye coordination.


      4. Pet Therapy

         Animals of varying types are well documented to improve well being and boost emotional connection to           something other than themselves.

  1. Hand Massage
    Give your client a hand massage with lotion and a few drops of essential oils.
  2. Physical Contact
    Brush hair, hold hands.
  3. Photo Albums
    Share personal family photo albums. Focus is not on accurate name recall of family members but rather in the sense of connection with others.
  4. Sensory Bean Bags
    Provide small bean bags made of different fabric textures: cotton, velvet and silk, and filled with different grains.
  5. Music & Movies
    Foster emotional connections via music, videos, and movies. Keep the time frame brief, only watch/listen for 5 to 10 minutes but if they are engaged, keep allowing them to enjoy the experience for long as continue to be engaged.


10. Scent stimulation
           Provide diffusers to filter favorite scents throughout the room.


11. Bird watching
      Hang a bird feeder that will not allow individuals to access the food. Provide

      chairs or benches to stop & watch the birds


      12. Sunshine & fresh air
          Plan time for the outdoors (weather permitting) supply sun protection with wide brim hats, and sun                    lotion on arms and legs. Avoid the sun between 11 and 3 pm. Offer plenty cool drinks. 


  1. Read Aloud
    Studies reveal that those afflicted with Alzheimer's disease may be able to hear until very late into the illness. Read articles in magazines and newspapers that the person enjoyed in former times. 
  2. Sight Stimulation
    Change the visuals inside bedrooms on a regular basis: posters, pot plants, family photographs, fresh flowers, mobiles and celebration decorations to make the person feel loved, and included. 
  3. Watch a game of Sports

This is a great opportunity for a theme related program. Decorate the room with the colors of their favorite team. Entice gustatory sensory (taste) recall with a “tailgate” typically food event. Provide sporting equipment to touch, feel and smell. Sing part of a sports anthem and see if you get any signs of recognition. Bring in enlarged pictures of famous sports people to show and talk about.



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