Alzheimer’s disease can be debilitating and all-consuming.  That’s why it’s important to do two things when you or a loved one has Alzheimer’s: find relaxation techniques to ease anxiety and find mental stimulation activities to help brain functioning.  Below are thirteen different techniques to ease anxiety and stimulate brain activity.  

Techniques to ease anxiety and produce calm in Alzheimer’s patients:

  1. Breathing – Sit on the floor with your hands in your lap and focus on your breath.  Spend five to ten seconds breathing in, feeling your abdomen expand, and then spend five to ten seconds breathing out, letting all of the air rush out of your lungs.  Clear your mind. Don’t think about anything but the breath coming into your body and the breath leaving your body.
  2. Visualization – find somewhere comfortable to sit and clear your mind.  Picture your favorite place: maybe that’s a beach or a favorite mountain cabin or a sitting room in your home.  Picture the place and then conjure up the sights, smells, and sounds of that place.  Listen to the waves, feel the salt spray on your face, smell the sunscreen and the water.  Let your body be transported to this calming, real place.
  3. Animal-assisted therapy: Alzheimer’s patients can really benefit from pets and the company they bring.  Getting an animal registered as a therapy animal ensures that that animal can be with you wherever you go, and can ease your anxiety in potentially high-anxiety situations.  
  4. Massage – massage can be an amazing physical and emotional boost for Alzheimer’s patients.  Physically, it releases stress in the muscles and joints and reorients the body.  Emotionally, it eases anxiety and produces calm and rest.  Getting one or two massages a week can greatly benefit your physical and emotional health.
  5. Yoga – exercise is a great way to reduce the effects of Alzheimer’s disease.  Yoga has the benefit of being good exercise AND being a calming, breath-centered routine.  

Techniques to stimulate brain activity in Alzheimer’s patients:

  1. Play music or sing songs: Music helps dementia patients recall memories and emotions, and can trigger brain activity rarely stimulated by other exercises.  It also eases anxiety and releases calming emotions, allowing an Alzheimer’s patient to drift to a happy place
  2. Do arts and crafts: using the hands to create or make something can be a healing, calming exercise.  Knitting, sculpting, painting, or crocheting can all be brain stimulating and relaxing.
  3. Organize: this can be especially helpful for someone who really liked to organize most of their lives.  Find something in yours or a loved one’s household that needs to be organized (like a junk drawer) and get to work putting it together.
  4. Clean: sometimes having something daily, routine, and necessary to do helps you feel important or needed.  It produces feelings of accomplishment and it keeps your brain working.
  5. Tend garden: this is another way to work with your hands, get sunshine or fresh air, and do something productive.  It uses the brain and produces a beautiful result that enhances competence and joy.
  6. Read: reading is one the best ways to keep the mind active. It’s important to read more than just one genre or type of publication though.  Read newspapers, non-fiction books, novels, and maybe even throw in an instruction manual here and there.  
  7. Cook or bake using simple recipes: You may need someone’s help to do these things, but following a simple recipe to make a favorite meal or a beloved pan of brownies can be enjoyable, productive, and brain-stimulating.
  8. Puzzles: puzzles are one of the best ways to keep both sides of the brain working and it enhances the connections between your cortexes.  Find a friend or enjoy some solitary time and spread a puzzle across the table.

These are just some of the many suggestions for easing anxiety and stimulating brain activity in Alzheimer’s patients.  Doing these things is vital to maintain a happy brain and a happy heart which is why we incorporate these activities everyday at BayView Senior Assisted Living.