The level of activities and participation varies with each individual and the progression of his Alzheimer's disease. Activities do not just include group activities, but also small daily tasks or activities the patient enjoys on a one-on-one basis. Regular, routine activities are beneficial to Alzheimer's patients. Not only is the physical and mental stimulation very beneficial, but the routine enables patients to feel safe, in a stable environment. Group activities should promote social interaction and cooperation, and individual activities should promote independence and choice.
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Daily Living Activities
Alzheimer's patients should be encouraged and supported to carry out their own daily living routines with only as much physical help as is necessary. Personal hygiene, getting dressed and tidying her room should all be performed with as much automation and independence as possible. These simple activities promote and encourage independence and help to form a comparatively normal daily routine, giving the patient a sense of normality and dignity. These activities also include making a cup of tea with supervision, baking and helping with cleaning. Not all patients are capable of the same level of independence, and the activities should be altered to suit the needs of each individual.
In the Garden
Gardening activities provide an opportunity to get out of doors, as well as the opportunity for social and group interactions. Bird watching is often a popular activity and offers mental stimulation. It is also an activity that all patients can enjoy, regardless of their physical capabilities. Therapeutic horticulture, or gardening, provides both mental and physical stimulation. It also provides a sense of achievement and self-worth. Growing fruit and vegetables provides an even greater sense of achievement, especially if the produce is then used as part of a meal. Eating the produce provides a healthy diet, which has additional health benefits.
Most Alzheimer's patients will have actively participated in hobbies and pastimes of their choosing for many years before being diagnosed with Alzheimer's. These activities may include crafts, quizzes, puzzles, dancing or music. These hobbies should be encouraged and continued for as long as possible, with changes made to accommodate the progress of the disease. Changes may include jigsaw puzzles with fewer pieces, crossword puzzles with simpler answers or plastic knitting needles instead of metal. Social activities may include a large game of bingo or a quiz with patients in lots of small teams. Encouraging patients to enjoy a wide range of pastimes provides many benefits, both physical and mental.
Many Alzheimer's and dementia sufferers remember the distant past more easily and with more clarity than the recent past. Listening to period music, looking at photographs and discussing her life from childhood into adulthood can be a great source of happiness, and can encourage socialisation. Reminiscence can also result in the patient becoming much more animated and less introverted. Carers can ask appropriate questions regarding a patient's life experiences, favourite places and family, but it should be noted that not everyone has had positive life experiences and she may not want to discuss the past. This should be respected and the activity should not be forced as it is meant to be enjoyable.
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