Any activites advice?

Kate P

Registered User
Jul 6, 2007
I'm sure this is a subject that has been covered before and I'd realy appreciate any advice as we just don't know what to do with mum.

We're now at the point where she is demanding to go to the shops several times a day (at least three). She doesn't seem to want anything and most times tries to buy something she's already bought.

I personally feel that this is just progression of her condition but dad seems to think it's because she's bored.

What can we give her to do to alleviate boredom? Her attention span is just non existant so conversation, t.v., films are no good. She used to love playing computer games but she can't do them anymore so that's out. She doesn't seem able to read and again the attention is a problem there. I've tried to get her to do a jigsaw with me but she just point blank refused.

Is this the norm for everyone else? What is anyone else doing?


Registered User
May 14, 2006
Dear Kate,
When my Mum was in the Nursing Home, she seemed to quite enjoy playing Dominoes and it is quite easy to adapt the rules a little, to make it easier to understand and play. Mum also liked looking at photographs and pictures and I sometimes read to her.
Although she was quite weak at times, she could colour simple pictures in and she liked to look at flowers in the garden , pot plants or she'd watch me arrange cut flowers in a vase.
She usually had the daytime TV on when I visited and she did seem to take quite a lot of it in, even though her vision and hearing were poor.



Registered User
Nov 7, 2004
Hi Kate

I write the following just to let you know the answer to your concern can often be found in the most unlikely place.

Mum had AD and was something similar to your mum except she would only go out food shopping. She would never go to the SS day centre, possible because she believed that was just for old people, (she was in her 80s). She was also deaf and her social life had consisted of “Ladies Meetings” at the local church, which she had stopped attending 15 or 20 years before. She could not carry on a proper conversation, as she could not remember anything.

The very best thing that happened for mum was that I had a chat with the local office of the Alzheimer’s Society. They put me in touch with an ordinary club for the over 60s which met once a week. Mum and one other lady were the only ones there with AD, the rest were a cross section of the population between 60 and 100 years old.

Each week a volunteer came and picked mum up in her car (having rung to say she was on her way), and took mum to the meeting. Another volunteer took over at the club and tactfully kept mum from spoiling things for the other members (as mum couldn’t play bingo or make Easter bonnets etc.) Mum really enjoyed herself being with these other people in an ordinary setting.

We were very lucky. It worked absolutely fine for 3 years, (though towards the end I had to have a paid Carer visit mum an hour before collection time to make sure she was dressed and ready).

As a spin off from the weekly meeting the club also arranged for a lady volunteer to visit mum at home for tea and a chat once a fortnight. Mum could never remember this event was going to happen, but she got a huge amount of pleasure entertaining a guest.

It is very frustrating trying to find the right thing to help ones loved one. Sometimes help comes in the most unexpected ways.

Kind regards



Registered User
Sep 6, 2007
Dublin, Ireland
Hi Kate

We have the same problem with Mum. Leave her in front of the tv and she goes asleep - not because she is tired but because she is bored. Wants to go out for a walk all time even in the dark. Poor Dad's leggs are nearly walked off him. We found a simple jigsaw does for a while as long as we start it. She will watch and then eventually try to put some pieces in. If she finds she can do it then she enjoys it. The one we got was for 8+ has 250 pieces and each piece is about an inch and a half in length. Its a disney picture so is bright, colourful and easy to do. Mum will do word searchs puzzels in her book if Dad looks for one word then Mum then Dad etc. Knitting kept her occupied for a while. Just knitting plain squares. The idea was to make a blanket but it never happened. We play snakes and ladders too but have to make it fun like "ooops down the snake I go...". A lot really depends on her mood. Don't know if any of this helps.


Registered User
Feb 17, 2006
I remember early days those day , when mum always wanted to go out , mum was always a person before AZ that use to love being active during the day , even after retirement , worse when she got AZ because she could not do so much on her own or could but would forget where she was going , or in danger of getting run over . she loved shopping going out for lunch forgetting her purse .

Trying to keep her in was hard and mum did go to one of those day centre for the elderly , after my father died but then she have an argument with someone and not want to go . when I took over looking after her mum would be planing for the next day what we are doing , and if had to be going out so a friend would take us out in her car , or just walking around the market , as the disease progress mum attention span deceased , so she would sleep more if left alone , as I found she did not have the motivation any more , to do what she wanted oh she still had big plans what she wanted to do , but could not do it . I also thought she was bored but now don't think so it was just the disease taking over her motivation.

I would get mum knitting , playing game , getting photo out , book to read video she use to love to watch in the past , take her to the coffee shop and she say I'm tried .

I alone could not be her motivation , as part of me would say Ok sleep then the other part of me could not take seeing her sleep her life away . so got mum in to AZ day center , being in a group of people seem to bring mum alive again , oh yes she complained that she was to tried to go, did not like the people and if not contently active with people motivating her she will nap, not sleep she tell me , but Nap :)
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Registered User
Mar 15, 2006
I am looking forward to sitting with Mum and writing her Christmas cards (with me doing the writing)
We did this last year and it really seemed to spark her imagination...looking at the cards all glittery and Christmassy..talking about who we were sending them to...which started us on memories of people and places...and Mum actually attempting to sigh some of them. Not sure how well it will go this year but I am hoping it will be as much fun as last year for both of us!:)


Margaret W

Registered User
Apr 28, 2007
North Derbyshire
Mum's AZ appeared very rapidly and when she went into the Care home, I did worry as to what she would do to stay occupied. All I can say is I am glad it is not me trying to keep her amused, cos I am totally devoid of ideas.

I made sure she had a tv in her room cos she always had it on at home, I took her books and booked her a daily newspaper which she always had at home. The tv has never been on, the books and newspaper are unread. The bar of chocolate I bought every week has been uneaten. When at home, the only other things mum did were cook and clean. One of the carers suggested a bun-making session and mum's response was "I'm paying you to look after me, I'm not doing your job for you".

However, as the 3 months have progressed she has got used to the little things the Activities Co-ordinator does (I think she is new to the job, but getting more imaginative each week), and last week mum was "colouring in" a picture. Never having coloured anything in before in her life, and being totally without talent, I was amazed how much she enjoyed it. The end result was a total mess, but she knew the tree trunk was brown, the leaves grees, and the fairy got yellow hair and blue eyes.

She wouldn't even come and sit with me till she had finished it!

They play bingo, some residents don't know what they are doing, but it doesn't matter cos they think they do. They catch a soft ball, and throw objects into a ring on the floor. At Halloween they made black hats and woollen spiders (the co-ordinator tarted some of them up a bit), for Remembrance day they made poppies out of drinking straws and red card, and covered the window sills with them. I told the co-ordinator that mum liked dominoes, so she has got a set.

I wonder if there is anything on the radio or tv like the old Music and Movement, or perhaps a CD, to encourage exercises for the arms and legs which can be done in a chair.

A 250-piece jigsaw is quite some achievement for a lot of people, do they do 100-pieces? What about devising a story with words missing, so the person can fill in the gaps. As I said, I've no imagination. "One day John was taking the --- for a ---- and he met the man who lived next ----".

I think you have to keep it simple at first - you can always progress if the activity is too easy.

I don't envy people trying to do their best to keep parents stimulated, and it is so important to do so. I am so glad I don't have that responsibility. But mum has been asking to go shopping. I asked what she needed (to make sure I go to the right area of the shopping centre as she gets very tired), but she couldn't remember. We will go anyway.

Another thing my mum likes is a visit from someone from the local church. Even a visit from the GP was useful as mum felt she was important.

For Christmas, I will get her to write her own cards. My problem is, I don't know who her friends are or their addresses. Some research to do!

Hope this helps.



Registered User
Jul 10, 2006
south lanarkshire

Mum for quite a while liked to "Colour In" The childrens books and lots of coloured pencils would keep her occupied for a while and she would be quite pround of her "work" Unfortunately there came a time when only one colour was being used and then not even that.

Also she like to paint plaster of paris figures, but I suppose it could be saltdough figures.

Mum was never arty or artistic before dementia, but seemed to enjoyed these activities in the early/mid stages.

Mum and Dad also enjoyed music and photographs

Hope you find something to entertain your Mum, it can be difficult keeping them occupied


fearful fiona

Registered User
Apr 19, 2007
Hi there

I found with my Mum and Dad that putting old photos into an album worked quite well. It's a job that never need finish because there are always new photos to put in and also it got them talking about the people in the photos a lot.

Kate P

Registered User
Jul 6, 2007
Hi everyone,

Thanks for all the great ideas.

I've seen colouring in and children's jigsaws suggested before - I just feel a bit odd about implementing them. It seems strange to give my mum the same thing as my daughter.

I guess that's my last obstacle of denial.

Well, I think I shall try them out - I'm not sure what dad will say but it's a hurdle he will have to overcome as well if he wants any peace.

I think a simpler jigsaw might work as she did come and sit with me while I did mine but it was 1000 piece one and I think it was overwhelming for her.

I'll pick up some painting and colouring books as well as she never really showed any artistic tendencies before but as some of you have said it doesn't stop the enjoyment of it now.

Wish me luck...!


Registered User
Oct 28, 2006
Bromley Kent
I got a story book that has buttons to press that make noises to accompany the story...ours was farmyard animals..this was very popular for a while but has gone walkabout as so many things do. Mum can read but childrens stories are her limit these days....when she is tired the good old fashioned Cinderella/goldilocks type are very soothing and remind me of reading bedtime stories to my children!


Registered User
Jul 6, 2007
leigh lancashire
You can have so much fun with a balloon or a beach ball.throw it and aim to hit someone on a certain spot of their torso.we had to play it with rolled up socks when i was a kid,but it was so funny.The target must not move tho,if they move before the missile has hit they are out,if the misile thrower misses the predicted target then they are's hilarious when you do elainex


Registered User
Mar 21, 2003
Not sure if anyone has come across this book?

Activities for Older People: A Practical Workbook of Art and Craft Projects

Amazon Link

Book Description
Concentrating on arts and crafts, this text is brimming with a wealth of practical ideas to encourage participation and activity. It will help the elderly person in your care to reach their full potential through activity. A thoughtful and stimulating range of activities are provided. These build upon very basic skills leading to more complex art and craft ideas, there is something for everyone. This book is like a collection of favourite recipes – dip into it whenever you feel the need.

From his wide experience the author has included only the activities that work, or that have proved enjoyable and stimulating, so that you can have every confidence that each activity will bring positive results.

For the carers of people with dementia, this book is a valuable source of information. The author is actively engaged with people who have such a disability, and has included much of his experience in this field with these pages. This text will become a favourite reference source for all those caring for elderly people with special needs. It will be essential for occupational therapists, physiotherapists, nurses, carers, care home providers, and family friends


Registered User
Nov 20, 2007

My mum seems to still enjoy music ecpecially dance music like Irish and Scottish dancing she attempts to clap and move the memorie books are also a good time pastime x