Coping with Late-Stage Alzheimer’s Disease

(NIA) When a person moves to the later stages of AD, caregiving may become even harder. This section offers ways to cope with changes that take place during severe or late-stage AD.

If caring for the person has become too much for you, read Finding Long-Term Care for a Person with Alzheimer’s.

When the Person with AD Can’t Move

If the person with AD can’t move around on his or her own, contact a home health aide, physical therapist, or nurse. Ask the doctor for a referral to one of these health professionals. They can show you how to move the person safely, such as changing his or her position in bed or in a chair.

Also, a physical therapist can show you how to move the person’s body joints using range-of-motion exercises. During these exercises, you hold the person’s arms or legs, one at a time, and move and bend it several times a day. Movement prevents stiffness of the arms, hands, and legs. It also prevents pressure or bedsores.

How to Make Someone with AD More Comfortable

Here are some ways to make the person with AD more comfortable:

  • Buy special mattresses and wedge-shaped seat cushions that reduce pressure sores. You can purchase these at a medical supply store or drugstore or online. Ask the home health aide, nurse, or physical therapist how to use the equipment.
  • Move the person to a different position at least every 2 hours.
  • Use a lap board to rest the person’s arms and support the upper body when he or she is sitting up.
  • Give the person something to hold, such as a wash cloth, while being moved. The person will be less likely to grab onto you or the furniture. If he or she is weak on one side, stand on the weak side to support the stronger side and help the person change positions.

How to Keep from Hurting Yourself When Moving a Person with AD

To keep from hurting yourself when moving someone with AD:

  • Know your strength when lifting or moving the person; don’t try to do too much. Also, be aware of how you position your body.
  • Bend at the knees and then straighten up by using your thigh muscles, not your back.
  • Keep your back straight, and don’t bend at the waist.
  • Hold the person as close as possible to avoid reaching away from your body.
  • Place one foot in front of the other, or space your feet comfortably apart for a wide base of support.
  • Use little steps to move the person from one seat to another. Don’t twist your body.
  • Use a transfer or “Posey” belt, shown above. You can buy this belt at a medical supply store or drugstore. To move the person, slide him or her to the edge of the chair or bed by wrapping the transfer belt around the person’s waist. Face the person and place your hands under the belt on either side of his or her waist. Then bend your knees, and pull up by using your thigh muscles to raise the person from a seated to a standing position.

How to Make Sure the Person Eats Well

In the later stages of AD, many people lose interest in food. You may begin to notice some changes in how or when the person eats.

He or she may not:

  • Be aware of mealtimes
  • Know when he or she has had enough food
  • Remember to cook
  • Eat enough different kinds of foods

This means the person may not be getting the foods or vitamins and minerals needed to stay healthy. Here are some suggestions to help the person with late-stage AD eat better. Remember that these are just tips. Try different things and see what works best for the person.

You might try to:

  • Serve meals at the same time each day.
  • Make the eating area quiet. Turn off the TV, CD player, or radio.
  • Offer just one food at a time instead of filling the plate or table with too many things.
  • Use colorful plates so the person can see the food.
  • Control between-meal snacks. Lock the refrigerator door and food cabinets if necessary. Put masking tape near the top and/or bottom of the doors.
  • Make sure the person’s dentures are tight fitting. Loose dentures or dentures with bumps or cracks may cause choking or pain, making it hard to eat. Take poorly fitting dentures out until the person can get dentures that fit.
  • Let the doctor know if your family member loses a lot of weight, for example, if he or she loses 10 pounds in a month.

Here are specific suggestions about foods to eat and liquids to drink:

  • Give the person finger foods to eat such as cheese, small sandwiches, small pieces of chicken, fresh fruits, or vegetables. Sandwiches made with pita bread are easier to handle.
  • Give him or her high-calorie, healthy foods to eat or drink, such as protein milk shakes. You can buy high-protein drinks and powders at grocery stores, drugstores, or discount stores. Also, you can mix healthy foods in a blender and let the person drink his or her meal. Use diet supplements if he or she is not getting enough calories. Talk with the doctor or nurse about what kinds of supplements are best.
  • Try to use healthy fats in cooking, such as olive oil. Also, use extra cooking oil, butter, and mayonnaise to cook and prepare food if the person needs more calories. If the person has heart disease, check with the doctor about how much and what kinds of fat to use.
  • If the person has diabetes or high blood pressure, check with the doctor or a nutrition specialist about which foods to limit.
  • Have the person take a multivitamin—a tablet, capsule, powder, liquid, or injection that adds vitamins, minerals, and other important things to a person’s diet.
  • Serve bigger portions at breakfast because it’s the first meal of the day.

What to Do About Swallowing Problems

As AD progresses to later stages, the person may no longer be able to chew and swallow easily. This is a serious problem. If the person chokes on each bite of food, there is a chance that the food could go into the lungs. This can cause pneumonia, which can lead to death.

The following suggestions may help with swallowing:

  • Make sure you cut the food into small pieces and make it soft enough to eat.
  • Grind food or make it liquid using a blender or baby food grinder.
  • Offer soft foods, such as ice cream, milk shakes, yogurt, soups, applesauce, gelatin, or custard.
  • Don’t use a straw; it may cause more swallowing problems. Instead, have the person drink small sips from a cup.
  • Limit the amount of milk the person drinks if it tends to catch in the throat.
  • Give the person more cold drinks than hot drinks. Cold drinks are easier to swallow.
  • Don’t give the person thin liquids, such as coffee, tea, water, or broth, because they are hardest to swallow. You can buy Thick-It® at most pharmacies. You add Thick-It® to liquids to make them thicker. You also can use ice cream and sherbet to thicken liquids.

Here are some other ideas to help people swallow:

  • Don’t hurry the person. He or she needs time to chew and swallow each mouthful before taking another bite.
  • Don’t feed a person who is drowsy or lying down. He or she should be in an upright, sitting position during the meal and for at least 20 minutes after the meal.
  • Have the person keep his or her neck forward and chin down when swallowing.
  • Stroke (gently) the person’s neck in a downward motion and say, “swallow” to remind him or her to swallow.
  • Find out if the person’s pills can be crushed or taken in liquid form.

Helping the person with AD eat can be exhausting. Planning meals ahead and having the food ready can make this task a little easier for you. Also, remember that people with AD may not eat much at certain times and then feel more like eating at other times. It helps to make mealtime as pleasant and enjoyable as possible. But, no matter how well you plan, the person may not be hungry when you’re ready to serve food.

Dental, Skin, and Foot Problems

Dental, skin, and foot problems may take place in early and moderate stages of AD, but most often happen during late-stage AD. Please see Dental problems for more information.

Body Jerking

Myoclonus is a condition that sometimes happens with AD. The person’s arms, legs, or whole body may jerk. This can look like a seizure, but the person doesn’t pass out. Tell the doctor right away if you see these signs. The doctor may prescribe one or more medicines to help reduce symptoms.

Skin Problems

Once the person stops walking or stays in one position too long, he or she may get skin or pressure sores.

To prevent skin or pressure sores, you can:

  • Move the person at least every 2 hours if he or she is sitting up.
  • Move the person at least every hour if he or she is lying down.
  • Put a 4-inch foam pad on top of the mattress.
  • Check to make sure that the foam pad is comfortable for the person. Some people find these pads too hot for sleeping or may be allergic to them. If the foam pad is a problem, you can get pads filled with gel, air, or water.
  • Check to make sure the person sinks a little when lying down on the pad. Also, the pad should fit snugly around his or her body.

To check for pressure sores:

  • Look at the person’s heels, hips, buttocks, shoulders, back, and elbows for redness or sores.
  • Ask the doctor what to do if you find pressure sores.
  • Try to keep the person off the affected area.

Foot Care

It’s important for the person with AD to take care of his or her feet. If the person can’t, you will need to do it.

Here’s what to do:

  • Soak the person’s feet in warm water; wash the feet with a mild soap; and check for cuts, corns, and calluses.
  • Put lotion on the feet so that the skin doesn’t become dry and cracked.
  • Cut or file their toenails.
  • Talk to a foot care doctor, called a podiatrist, if the person has diabetes or sores on the feet.

For More Information About Coping with Late-Stage Alzheimer’s

NIA Alzheimer’s and related Dementias Education and Referral (ADEAR) Center
1-800-438-4380 (toll-free)

The National Institute on Aging’s ADEAR Center offers information and free print publications about Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias for families, caregivers, and health professionals. ADEAR Center staff answer telephone, email, and written requests and make referrals to local and national resources.

Eldercare Locator
1-800-677-1116 (toll-free)

National Respite Locator Service

Aging Life Care Association

Alzheimer’s Association
1-800-272-3900 (toll-free, 24/7)
1-866-403-3073 (TTY/toll-free)

Alzheimer’s Foundation of America
1-866-232-8484 (toll-free)

Hospice Foundation of America

National Association for Home Care and Hospice

National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization


Content reviewed: May 18, 2017

National Institute on Aging


Make Health Your Resolution in 2018

( Make 2018 your healthiest year yet! Add these tips to your resolution list to boost your health and well-being!

Six Tips for 2018

  1. Make an appointment for a check-up, vaccination, or screening. Regular oral and medical exams and tests can help find problems before they start. They also can help find problems early, when your chances for treatment and cure are better.
  2. Wash your hands often with soap and water to prevent the spread of infection and illness. Handwashing involves five simple and effective steps – wet, lather, scrub, rinse, and dry. Learn more about when and how to wash your hands.
  3. Make healthy food choices. A healthy eating plan emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products. It also includes lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts, and is low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt (sodium), and added sugars.
  4. Get active! Start small – try taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or parking further from your destination. Consider mall walking if the weather is cold or icy. Adults should get at least 2½ hours a week of moderate-intensity physical activity.
  5. Be smokefree. If you are ready to quit, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) or 1-855-DÉJELO-YA (1-855-335-3569 for Spanish speakers) for free resources, including free quit coaching, a free quit plan, free educational materials, and referrals to other resources where you live. Need inspiration? Check out these videos from the Tips From Former Smokers® campaign.
  6. Get enough sleep. Insufficient sleep is associated with a number of chronic diseases and conditions—such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and depression. Adults need seven or more hours per night.


What is the Most Common Type of Dementia?

(BrightFocus Foundation) This article discusses the most common type of dementia, resulting in 60 – 80 percent of all cases of dementia diagnoses.

Andrew* first noticed his mother’s forgetfulness at her 75th birthday party. She did her best to hide her difficulty, but it was obvious to him that she was having trouble remembering the names of several more distant cousins who had come to celebrate with her. Had her husband still been alive, he would have covered for her by greeting everyone by their names in order to remind her.

Thinking back, Andrew realized that his mother had been having noticeable trouble during most of the previous year. Her reaction after her husband’s death was more than simple grief. She was forgetting details of things that had happened. She seemed to be having more trouble using her microwave and food processor. She had misplaced some important bills and then thrown them into the garbage by mistake. She sometimes called Andrew to ask questions about things he’d already discussed with her.

By the time she approached her 76th birthday, Andrew was in the habit of stopping by her house on a weekly basis, helping with chores, and making sure the garbage was put out and the refrigerator was kept clean. It was pretty clear that he needed to help his mother get additional support in her home if she was to continue to live there. He also considered involving her primary care physician or a memory disorders clinic. But he wondered whether there was any point. After all, wasn’t his mother just going to go through a bunch of tests and then be told she has Alzheimer’s disease, and there isn’t anything that will help?

*The names and details in this story are composite and fictitious. They do not identify specific individuals.

The answer to the question “Is Alzheimer’s disease the most common type of dementia?” is “yes.” Alzheimer’s disease is indeed the most common cause of serious cognitive problems among older adults. It is one of the major causes of death, and it is one of the costliest of diseases for our health care system. As yet, we have no cure.

But there is so much more to say about this matter!

One of my professors in medical school used to remind us that there are many patients who cannot be cured, but few who cannot be helped. Help for a person with Alzheimer’s disease includes attention to their safety and comfort, medical care of conditions that might further interfere with their best level of functioning, and support of their caregiving system.

Recent advances in neuroimaging have made it possible for us to recognize Alzheimer’s disease even before severe cognitive symptoms have developed, and at the earliest stage of Alzheimer’s disease there may be opportunities to help delay or prevent worsening. Medical disease management, physical activity, good nutrition, cognitive stimulation, social engagement, stress reduction, and healthy sleep habits can all promote brain health.

At the earliest stage of cognitive symptoms, participation in clinical trials may offer some affected individuals an opportunity to delay the effects of the disease—and many possible therapies are currently in testing.

It is also important to keep in mind that although Alzheimer’s is the most common type of dementia, it is definitely not the only one. A recent study called IDEAS (“Imaging Dementia, Evidence for Amyloid Scanning”) reported that nearly a third of patients referred for amyloid scanning with a likely diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease actually had a different condition altogether.

Vascular dementia, Lewy body dementia, frontotemporal dementia, Parkinson’s disease dementia, alcohol-related dementia, dementia related to HIV infection, and dementia associated with head trauma are other important causes of major neurocognitive disorder. They are not all curable, but various treatment approaches can reduce symptoms, reduce caregiver burden, and improve quality of life. In addition, there are reversible causes of cognitive symptoms that may look just like dementia yet improve considerably when treated correctly. Adverse effects of inappropriate medications or of toxic substances, depression, sleep disorders, and some infections are among the many treatable causes of cognitive symptoms.

For Andrew and anyone in his situation, I would suggest seeking the help of a physician trained to evaluate and treat dementia. Sometimes this can result in discovery of a curable condition. Almost always, it can result in getting specific and useful advice and assistance.

By James M. Ellison, MD, MPH,  Swank Memory Care Center, Christiana Care Health System


Copyright 2018. BrightFocus is a tax-exempt nonprofit organization under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of the United States.


Music, Art and Alzheimer’s

(Alzheimer’s Association) Music and art can enrich the lives of people with Alzheimer’s disease. Both allow for self-expression and engagement, even after dementia has progressed.


Music can be powerful. Studies have shown music may reduce agitation and improve behavioral issues that are common in the middle-stages of the disease. Even in the late-stages of Alzheimer’s, a person may be able to tap a beat or sing lyrics to a song from childhood. Music provides a way to connect, even after verbal communication has become difficult.

Use these tips when selecting music for a person with dementia:

  • Identify music that’s familiar and enjoyable to the person. If possible, let the person choose the music.
  • Choose a source of music that isn’t interrupted by commercials, which can cause confusion.
  • Use music to create the mood you want. For example, a tranquil piece of music can help create a calm environment, while a faster paced song from someone’s childhood may boost spirit and evoke happy memories.
  • Encourage movement (clapping, dancing) to add to the enjoyment.
  • Avoid sensory overload; eliminate competing noises by shutting windows and doors and by turning off the television. Make sure the volume of the music is not too loud.


Art projects can create a sense of accomplishment and purpose. They can provide the person with dementia — as well as caregivers — an opportunity for self-expression.

When planning an art activity for someone with middle- to late-stage Alzheimer’s, keep these tips in mind:

  • Keep the project on an adult level. Avoid anything that might be demeaning or seem child-like.
  • Build conversation into the project. Provide encouragement, discuss what the person is creating or reminiscence.
  • Help the person begin the activity. If the person is painting, you may need to start the brush movement. Most other projects should only require basic instruction and assistance.
  • Use safe materials. Avoid toxic substances and sharp tools.
  • Allow plenty of time, keeping in mind that the person doesn’t have to finish the project in one sitting.

Copyright © 2018  Alzheimer’s Association®. All rights reserved.


Alzheimer’s Disease: Managing Personality and Behavior Changes

(NIH) Alzheimer’s disease causes brain cells to die, so the brain works less well over time. This changes how a person acts. This article has suggestions that may help you understand and cope with changes in personality and behavior in a person with Alzheimer’s disease.

Common Changes in Personality and Behavior

Common personality and behavior changes you may see include:

You also may notice that the person stops caring about how he or she looks, stops bathing, and wants to wear the same clothes every day.

Other Factors That Can Affect Behavior

In addition to changes in the brain, other things may affect how people with Alzheimer’s behave:

Other problems in their surroundings may affect behavior for a person with Alzheimer’s disease. Too much noise, such as TV, radio, or many people talking at once can cause frustration and confusion. Stepping from one type of flooring to another or the way the floor looks may make the person think he or she needs to take a step down. Mirrors may make them think that a mirror image is another person in the room. For tips on creating an Alzheimer’s-safe home, visit Home Safety and Alzheimer’s Disease.

If you don’t know what is causing the problem, call the doctor. It could be caused by a physical or medical issue.

Keep Things Simple…and Other Tips

Caregivers cannot stop Alzheimer’s-related changes in personality and behavior, but they can learn to cope with them. Here are some tips:

  • Keep things simple. Ask or say one thing at a time.
  • Have a daily routine, so the person knows when certain things will happen.
  • Reassure the person that he or she is safe and you are there to help.
  • Focus on his or her feelings rather than words. For example, say, “You seem worried.”
  • Don’t argue or try to reason with the person.
  • Try not to show your frustration or anger. If you get upset, take deep breaths and count to 10. If it’s safe, leave the room for a few minutes.
  • Use humor when you can.
  • Give people who pace a lot a safe place to walk. Provide comfortable, sturdy shoes. Give them light snacks to eat as they walk, so they don’t lose too much weight, and make sure they have enough to drink.
  • Try using music, singing, or dancing to distract the person.
  • Ask for help. For instance, say, “Let’s set the table” or “I need help folding the clothes.”

Talk with the person’s doctor about problems like hitting, biting, depression, or hallucinations. Medications are available to treat some behavioral symptoms.

Read about this topic in Spanish. Lea sobre este tema en español.

For More Information About Personality and Behavior Changes in Alzheimer’s

NIA Alzheimer’s and related Dementias Education and Referral (ADEAR) Center
1-800-438-4380 (toll-free)

The National Institute on Aging’s ADEAR Center offers information and free print publications about Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias for families, caregivers, and health professionals. ADEAR Center staff answer telephone, email, and written requests and make referrals to local and national resources.

Alzheimer’s Association
1-800-272-3900 (toll-free, 24/7)
1-866-403-3073 (TTY/toll-free)

Alzheimer’s Foundation of America
1-866-232-8484 (toll-free)



Alzheimer’s: 7 Tips for Medical Visits

(Mayo Clinic) Regular medical care is an important part of Alzheimer’s treatment. Use these seven tips to stay on top of your loved one’s care.

People who have dementia due to Alzheimer’s disease need regular medical care to address a range of health and behavioral issues. If you provide care for a loved one who has dementia, you’re sure to have lots of questions for his or her doctor — and limited time. To get the most out of your loved one’s medical appointments, consider these seven tips.

Click here to get a free Medical Appointment Checklist (PDF file requiring Adobe Reader)

1. Schedule Wisely

Plan appointments for your loved one’s best time of day and, if possible, when the doctor’s office is least crowded. Bring snacks and water and a portable activity your loved one enjoys.

If going to the doctor has been a problem in the past, wait until the day of the appointment to tell your loved one. If necessary, offer a reward after the visit, such as stopping for ice cream on the way home.

2. Be Prepared

Make a list of issues you’d like to address with the doctor, such as concerns about medication side effects or aggressive behavior. Make a list of every medication your loved one takes, even over-the-counter medications and supplements, or bring the labeled containers in a bag. If your loved one lives in a facility, relay medications that your loved one is taking there or any concerns staff members might have.

Early in the disease, be sure to have your loved one sign a privacy release form at the doctor’s office, so the doctor can freely discuss your loved one’s medical condition with you.

3. Be Specific

Be ready to answer questions about your loved one’s symptoms and behavior. Have you noticed any changes in your loved one’s health, memory, mood or behavior? When did the changes begin?

Do you have concerns about your loved one’s ability to drive or live independently? As the disease progresses, your insight might be the critical factor in determining what’s best for your loved one.

If the doctor prescribes medication for your loved one, find out exactly what time of day and how much of the drug should be taken. Ask why the medication is being prescribed and how long it might be before you see any improvement. Also, ask your doctor what side effects might occur.

4. Take Notes

Bring a pad and pen to jot down information from the doctor. You might also record the conversation so that you can listen to it again later. Or bring a friend or another family member and ask him or her to take notes or to stay with your loved one while you take notes. If you don’t understand something the doctor tells you, ask for clarification.

5. Consider the Future

Ask the doctor to discuss what to expect in the next year or two. You might ask about advance directives, long term care or nursing home placement. You might also discuss hospice or palliative care. Knowing what to expect can help you prepare.

6. Ask for Referrals or Recommendations

If you need help, ask. The doctor can refer you to various community resources, such as the local area agency on aging, meal services, senior centers, respite care and support groups.

7. Deal Promptly with Conflict

If something annoys you about a particular appointment or if a misunderstanding arises, discuss it with the doctor right away. Work as a team to resolve the problem, rather than rushing to switch doctors. A change could be confusing to your loved one and detrimental to his or her care in the long run.


© 1998-2017 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER). All rights reserved.


What Can I Do This Weekend? Fun Activities To Do with Person Who Has Alzheimer’s

(Gina Salazar, Activity Director) Here is a list of fun activities that you can do with a loved one or friend who has Alzheimer’s disease.

I have found that in dealing with Alzheimers/Dementia residents, you need to try to find out what your residents like and their individual needs, read their history, talk to their families, ask them. You will find that different activities will work some days and times and others won’t.

The best thing to remember is that the residents are not babies and should be treated with respect at all times. Have fun with them and keep them busy, look out for Sundowning  (restless behavior towards the late afternoon hours ). Try to keep a consistent program. Enjoy yourself! These are the most rewarding residents that I have found to work with.

by Gina Salazar, Activity Director,



Get items that can be sorted by the residents such as buttons (different sizes and colors), poker chips, balls, bottle caps, forks, spoons, rocks, etc. Have residents sort items out, make sure to always have staff by the resident to watch that they don’t eat items.

Play Dough/Clay

Give resident some clay or play dough and have them make something,anything. This is good exercise for their hands.

Book Making

Have your residents go through different magazines and look for a specific item. Examples: birds, ladies, babies, cats, dogs, food, cars etc., then have residents cut the items out and make their own “books.”

What’s in the Bag?

Get a bag and fill it with different items such as cotton balls, sandpaper, leaves, newspaper, felt,q-tips, golf ball, sock, clothespin, etc., then have residents take turns and feel whats in the bag, and tell you what the items are.


Get Cheerios, fruit loops, popcorn,or honey combs cereal and some string and let your residents string up a chain to put outside for the birds. This activity is fun because they can eat some while they make their chains.

Cooking Class

Make a fruit salad: get different fruits and have residents cut up with plastic knives, add whipped cream or plain yogurt. Yummy!


Get a small/large George Forman Grill and buy some hot dogs and have a BBQ!! The George Forman Grill is great to have for your facility because its small,cleans up easy, and the smell of the cooking item on the grill is wonderful for the residents .Other items to grill: Grilled Cheese Sandwiches,Chicken Breasts for Chicken Salad & Quesidellas.

Other Stuff to Make

Tuna Salad, Smoothies, Ice cream  Sundaes, Pizza Boats, and Nachos.

Pet Therapy

I have found that if you can have animals at your facility, do it!!! They can be a lot of work but they residents really respond to dogs, cats, rabbits, birds,  turtles and most any animals.And the fun part is that you can get your residents to help with their care, feeding, and walking the dogs.

Ball Toss

Get some residents and a ball and have some fun, place residents in a circle and roll ball towards residents, let them kick it or toss it.

Life Skills

Have residents fold clothes, sweep,dust, vacuum and set dining room tables. Alzheimer’s residents love to help. I have found that if you say ” I am so busy, can you help me fold these clothes Mrs. Johnson?” they will love to do it.


Take your residents outside for a walk, always take a caregiver or someone else with you and a cell phone if possible.

Music Appreciation

Music soothes the soul,put on some music any kind of music, and just sit back with your residents and listen, some residents may sing along, some will dance, anything goes. Have fun….

Quick List

  • Clip coupons
  • Sort poker chips
  • Count tickets
  • Rake leaves
  • Use the carpet sweeper
  • Read out loud
  • Bake cookies
  • Look up names in the phone book
  • Read the daily paper out loud
  • Ask someone with a child to visit
  • Listen to Polka music
  • Plant seeds indoors or out
  • Look at family photographs
  • Toss a ball
  • Color pictures
  • Make homemade lemonade
  • Wipe off the table
  • Weed the flower bed
  • Make cream cheese mints
  • Have a spelling bee
  • Read from the Reader’s Digest
  • Fold clothes
  • Have a friend visit with a calm pet
  • Cut pictures out of greeting card
  • Wash silverware
  • Bake homemade bread
  • Sort objects by shape or color
  • Sing old songs
  • “Tell me more” when they talk about a memory
  • Put silverware away
  • Make a Valentine collage
  • Play favorite songs and sing
  • Take a ride
  • Make a cherry pie
  • Read aloud from a magazine
  • Play dreidels
  • Make a basket of socks
  • Take a walk
  • Reminisce about 1st day of school
  • String Cheerios to hang outside for birds
  • Make a fresh fruit salad
  • Sweep the patio
  • Color paper shamrocks green
  • Fold towels
  • Have afternoon tea
  • Remember great inventions
  • Play Pictionary
  • Paint a sheet
  • Cut out paper dolls
  • Identify states and capitals
  • Make a family tree poster
  • Color a picture of our flag
  • Cook hot dogs outside
  • Grow magic rocks
  • Water house plants
  • Reminisce about the first kiss
  • Play horse shoes
  • Dance
  • Sing favorite hymns
  • Make homemade ice cream
  • Plant bulbs for winter blooming
  • Make Christmas cards
  • Sort playing cards by their color
  • Write a letter to a family member
  • Dress in your favorite football team’s color
  • Pop popcorn
  • Name the presidents
  • Give a manicure
  • Make paper butterflies
  • Plant a tree
  • Make a May basket
  • Make homemade applesauce
  • Finish famous sayings
  • Feed the ducks
  • Mold with play dough
  • Look at pictures in National Geographic
  • Put a puzzle together
  • Sand wood
  • Rub in hand lotion
  • Decorate paper placemats
  • Arrange fresh flowers
  • Remember famous people
  • Straighten out underwear drawer
  • Finish Nursery Rhymes
  • Make peanut butter sandwiches
  • Wipe off patio furniture
  • Cut up used paper for scratch paper
  • Take care of fish tank


  • Trace and cut out leaves
  • Ask simple trivia questions
  • Finish Bible quotes
  • Paint with string or Q-Tips
  • Cut out pictures from magazines
  • Read classic short stories
  • Put coins in a jar
  • Sew sewing cards
  • Put bird feed out for the birds
  • Clean out a pumpkin
  • Reminisce about a favorite summer
  • Roll yarn into a ball
  • Make a birthday cake



Alzheimers’ Activity Ideas That Work
by Gina Salazar, AD

Quick List from the Columbia, Missouri Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association


Caregiver Stress: Tips for Taking Care of Yourself

(Mayo Clinic) Caring for a loved one strains even the most resilient people. If you’re a caregiver, take steps to preserve your own health and well-being.

As the population ages, more caregiving is being provided by people who aren’t health care professionals. These informal caregivers provide 80 percent of long-term care in the United States.

A caregiver is anyone who provides help to another person in need, such as an ill spouse or partner, a disabled child, or an aging relative. However, family members who are actively caring for an older adult often don’t self-identify as a “caregiver.” Recognizing this role can help caregivers receive the support they need.

Caregiving is Rewarding but Stressful

Caregiving can have many rewards. For most caregivers, being there when a loved one needs you is a core value and something you wish to provide.

But a shift in roles and emotions is almost certain. It is natural to feel angry, frustrated, exhausted, alone or sad. Caregiver stress — the emotional and physical stress of caregiving — is common.

People who experience caregiver stress can be vulnerable to changes in their own health. Risk factors for caregiver stress include:

  • Being female
  • Having fewer years of formal education
  • Living with the person you are caring for
  • Social isolation
  • Having depression
  • Financial difficulties
  • Higher number of hours spent caregiving
  • Lack of coping skills and difficulty solving problems
  • Lack of choice in being a caregiver

Signs of Caregiver Stress

As a caregiver, you may be so focused on your loved one that you don’t realize that your own health and well-being are suffering. Watch for these signs of caregiver stress:

  • Feeling overwhelmed or constantly worried
  • Feeling tired most of the time
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Gaining or losing a lot of weight
  • Becoming easily irritated or angry
  • Losing interest in activities you used to enjoy
  • Feeling sad
  • Having frequent headaches, bodily pain or other physical problems
  • Abusing alcohol or drugs, including prescription medications

Too much stress, especially over a long time, can harm your health. As a caregiver, you’re more likely to experience symptoms of depression or anxiety. In addition, you may not get enough sleep or physical activity, or eat a balanced diet — which increases your risk of medical problems, such as heart disease and diabetes.

Strategies for Dealing with Caregiver Stress

The emotional and physical demands involved with caregiving can strain even the most resilient person. That’s why it’s so important to take advantage of the many resources and tools available to help you provide care for your loved one. Remember, if you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t be able to care for anyone else.

To help manage caregiver stress:

  • Accept help. Be prepared with a list of ways that others can help you, and let the helper choose what he or she would like to do. For instance, one person might be willing to take the person you care for on a walk a couple of times a week. Someone else might offer to pick up groceries or cook for you.
  • Focus on what you are able to provide. It’s normal to feel guilty sometimes, but understand that no one is a “perfect” caregiver. Believe that you are doing the best you can and making the best decisions you can at any given time.
  • Set realistic goals. Break large tasks into smaller steps that you can do one at a time. Prioritize, make lists and establish a daily routine. Begin to say no to requests that are draining, such as hosting holiday meals.
  • Get connected. Find out about caregiving resources in your community. Many communities have classes specifically about the disease your loved one is facing. Caregiving services such as transportation and meal delivery may be available.
  • Join a support group. A support group can provide validation and encouragement, as well as problem-solving strategies for difficult situations. People in support groups understand what you may be going through. A support group can also be a good place to create meaningful friendships.
  • Seek social support. Make an effort to stay well-connected with family and friends who can offer nonjudgmental emotional support. Set aside time each week for connecting, even if it’s just a walk with a friend.
  • Set personal health goals. For example, set a goal to establish a good sleep routine or to find time to be physically active on most days of the week. It’s also crucial to fuel your body with healthy foods and plenty of water.
  • See your doctor. Get recommended immunizations and screenings. Make sure to tell your doctor that you’re a caregiver. Don’t hesitate to mention any concerns or symptoms you have.

Respite Care

It may be hard to imagine leaving your loved one in someone else’s care, but taking a break can be one of the best things you do for yourself — as well as the person you’re caring for. Most communities have some type of respite care available, such as:

  • In-home respite. Health care aides come to your home to provide companionship, nursing services or both.
  • Adult care centers and programs. Some centers provide care for both older adults and young children, and the two groups may spend time together.
  • Short-term nursing homes. Some assisted living homes, memory care homes and nursing homes accept people needing care for short stays while caregivers are away.

The Caregiver Who Works Outside the Home

Nearly 60 percent of caregivers work outside of the home. If you work outside the home and are feeling overwhelmed, consider taking a break from your job.

Employees covered under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act may be able to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave a year to care for relatives. Ask your human resources office about options for unpaid leave.

You Aren’t Alone

If you’re like many caregivers, you have a hard time asking for help. Unfortunately, this attitude can lead to feeling isolated, frustrated and even depressed.

Rather than struggling on your own, take advantage of local resources for caregivers. To get started, contact your local Area Agency on Aging (AAA) to learn about services in your community. You can find your local AAA online or in the government section of your telephone directory.


By the Mayo Clinic Staff

© 2018 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. All rights reserved.