How can I keep my mother (who has Alzheimer’s) busy when she expects me to keep her entertained all day?

It’s not uncommon for an individual with Alzheimer’s to get very attached, or “clingy,” with the person most responsible for his or her care. But that doesn’t mean all of that person’s stimulation has to come directly from you.

Try some of these ideas:

  • Play music with a fast pace
  • Let her walk as much as possible
  • Exercise videos with simple instructions are available from numerous companies
  • Have her shred old documents or clip coupons
  • Have her feed a pet
  • Direct her to get mail from the mailbox and open the junk mail
  • Have her set the table while you make lunch.
  • Bake cookies. She can help stir or put the dough on cookie sheets (while you set the oven)
  • Get her some exercise through activities such as batting a balloon or pulling weeds
  • Let her help at whatever level she can. One example: She can hold a grocery bag while you unlock the door to the house
  • Ask a friend to visit and take her for a walk, read to her or play with a ball. Anything that will give you a break for a while
  • Get audio books from the library. People with Alzheimer’s often like to be read to, especially if they’re no longer able to read themselves. You might have to sample different subject matter or genres before finding a good combination. Humor usually speaks to anyone.

There’s also a good publication with suggestions: “Hundreds of Activities for Men and Women with Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders,” by B.J. Fitzray (published by Rayve Productions in 2001). This and other helpful publications are available online at http://www.ahaf.org. Another good site to check is http://www.alz.org, the Alzheimer’s Association website.