Keeping Busy: Activities for People with Alzheimer’s

Feb 27, 2023

Activities are an important part of life for people with dementia, Alzheimer’s or other memory conditions. Keeping busy provides much-needed structure to your relative’s day and helps him or her feel like a productive member of the family. Enjoyable activities prevent boredom and help maintain basic living skills.

Planning Activities

The best activities are fun and make the most of your relative’s interests, skills and abilities. Think about things your family member enjoyed doing in the past and what he or she can still do now. Break activities down into simple steps. Avoid any that may be too difficult so your parent doesn’t become frustrated. 

People with memory disorders have short attention spans.  Have back-up plans ready in case your relative gets bored or tired. Your goal is for both of you to have a good time together!


Physical activity important to your relative’s health and well-being — and yours too! Exercise improves sleep quality, appetite, balance, muscle tone, range of motion, bone strength and also reduces stress. Make physical activity an important part your relative’s daily routine.

Some suggestions:

  • Indoor or outdoor walks. Walk in the mall when the weather is bad.
  • Pull weeds in the garden.
  • Dusting furniture.
  • Mopping the floor.
  • Raking leaves.
  • Dancing to the “oldies.”

Household Chores

Choose tasks according to what your relative enjoys and is able to do without both of you becoming frustrated. Helping around the house makes him or her feel part of the family.

Simple chores include:

  • Folding laundry.
  • Winding yarn.
  • Sorting buttons.
  • Setting the table.
  • Emptying wastebaskets.
  • Putting dishes away.
  • Cleaning silverware.


Television, videos, and music are activities that the whole family can enjoy together. Make TV a special occasion – don’t keep the television on all day. Skip talk shows and most news shows. These programs can be boring or upsetting to people with a memory disorders.

Rent or borrow old and new movie favorites:

  • ET
  • The Sound of Music
  • That’s Entertainment
  • Gone with the Wind
  • Shirley Temple movies
  • Singin’ in the Rain
  • Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers movies.

Look for TV re-runs or collections of popular shows in the video store or library. Choose old favorites like:

  • I Love Lucy
  • Little House on the Prairie
  • Laurel & Hardy
  • The Little Rascals
  • The Golden Girls
  • Animal Planet
  • The Waltons

Active older people are less likely to wander or become agitated. You and your older family member will both have better appetites, be in better spirits, and get a better night’s sleep after a busy active day.

These articles are created by leading experts in aging and also The Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging, a nationally recognized leader addressing the most important issues of aging through service, research and advocacy. As a champion for older adults, BRIA works to advance their health, independence and dignity. The organization has established itself as a trusted resource for people who counsel, care for and advocate on behalf of older adults throughout the U.S.