There are many books and products available for the caregiver on activities and resources for the person with dementia. In selecting activities it is important that they are meaningful to the person with Alzheimer's Disease.

The following criteria are important: (a) it must be relevant to the person; (b) it must be voluntary; and (c) it must offer the person a reasonable chance for success. Activities should be selected based on the person's social, intellectual and emotional status. While they should never be demeaning, childish, or in any way threatening to the person's self-esteem, do not be afraid to adapt children's activities and items for the adult person when it is appropriate.

The following are a few examples of resources for activities:

Activities for the Frail Aged Patricia M. Cornish
Potentials Development for Health & Aging Services, Inc.
775 Main Street, Suite 325
Buffalo, N.Y. 14203

Activities, One Step at a Time
Dennis Goodwin
The Activity Factory
2227 Rock Island Court
Snellville, Georgia 30278

Bifolkal Productions. Inc.
991 Williamson Street
Madison, WI 53703
(Includes programs to support memory, such as: memory jars, sensory items on many topics; cassette tapes of songs of aging; and a book of writing exercises.)

1710 Hunters Lane
Rockville, Maryland 20852
(Many products for the person with dementia to provide memory and tactile experiences, including: Feel 'N Fold; Eldertrivia; Almost Anything for a Laugh; Slides, Memory Joggers, A Walk Down Memory Lane.)

Reality Activities:
A How to Manual for Use with Confused and Disoriented Elderly
Geriatric Educational Consultants
43 Middleton Lane
Willingboro, NJ 08046
(609) 877-5792

Video tape on sensory awareness and guidebook for a variety of activities:
"Working with Confusion in the Elderly"
University of Bridgeport
Center for the Study of Aging
Bridgeport, Connecticut

The following suggestions are drawn from caregivers involved in the ADRDA chapters and can be used in providing activities for the individual with dementia in the home:

Create a shoe box filled with items that represent the person's interest from the past, such as small things they can feel and hold, bend and stretch, stack and fold, tear and fringe. Be careful not to include sharp things or items they might put in their mouth. One box may not be enough. Make up a variety of shoe boxes, one for the bathroom, the car, the living room.

Examples of items include: fabric swatches, yarn balls, nerf balls, duplicates of family photos, small fuzzy animals, postcards, mail order catalogs, and ribbons. A former business man may enjoy pencils and notepads, paper clips, big erasers, file cards, old rubber stamps, canceled checks, etc.

Depending upon the emotional and cognitive state of the individual, often teddy bears, stuffed animals or dolls can serve as "companions for people with Alzheimer's Disease. The doll can be the focus of non-demanding emotion, interaction and stimulation for the person whose connections with the rest of the world are damaged and difficult. Hugging or falling asleep holding a doll sometimes seems to offer a comfort to those unable to express their needs.

"Paint with Water" coloring books, farm animal soft cloth books, the big plastic interlocking blocks have all been used successfully by caregivers.

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