15 Activities for Late-Stage Alzheimer's Disease

15 Activities for Late-Stage Alzheimer's Disease

Categories: Activities Articles Dementia

Alzheimer's Disease affects people in different ways. Rather than focusing on the disease and impairment, we should aim to identify each person's strengths and remaining abilities and find activities to support these. Here are 15 Activities For Late-Stage Alzheimer's Disease.
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Alzheimer's Disease affects people in different ways. Rather than focusing on the disease and impairment, we should aim to identify each person's strengths and remaining abilities and find activities to support these.

Alzheimer's disease progresses slowly and typically in 3 stages: early-stage (mild), middle-stage(moderate), and late-stage (severe).

The rate at which the disease progresses varies from person to person. Some may live as long as 15 years with Alzheimer's Disease whilst others less than half of that. The average life expectancy is around 8 years from diagnosis.

This article concentrates on activities for people living with late-stage Alzheimer's Disease.

Related: Alzheimer's Disease vs Dementia

Typical changes observed in late-stage Alzheimer's Disease

Significant emotional and behavioural changes occur at this stage. Changes include:

  • Vulnerability to other illnesses such as pneumonia
  • Language and reasoning difficulties - minimal or no speech
  • Severe memory loss
  • Impaired walking or rigidity
  • Difficulty with swallowing
  • Lack of focus/concentration
  • Possible unusual behaviour; passive or otherwise

Finding suitable activities for late-stage Alzheimer's

The care needs for clients living with late-stage Alzheimer's Disease concentrate on preserving dignity, comfort and quality of life. Activities should focus on the senses: sight, touch, smell, hearing, and taste.

Activities for late stage Alzheimer's should be stimulating but without challenges. Choose activities that are repetitive and divide them into small tasks. Conduct activities with compassion, patience, sensitivity, and respect.

Realistic expectations are important. Don't feel disheartened if motivation/engagement is not there when an activity is offered, come back and try again later.

Always consult with clinical senior staff before running activities for clients with late-stage dementia.

Related: 30+ Sensory Activities for people living with Dementia

15 Activities for Late-Stage Alzheimer's Disease

The following activities are one-on-one and should be offered in bursts of 15 minutes.

Take into consideration the background of each client to search for themes that might please, alert or engage them.

Consult with clinical senior staff regarding the health status of each client before activity. Be aware that clients may place inappropriate items in their mouths; supervision at all times is necessary.

  1. Sensory Books
    Provide colourful sensory books to look at and touch.
    Related: Sensory Lap Quilt

  2. Stuffed Toys
    Offer stuffed toys to cuddle.

  3. Pet Therapy
    Provide a real puppy or a cat to pat and spend some time with.
    Related: Pet Therapy in Nursing Homes

  4. Hand Massage
    Give your client a hand massage with lotion and a few drops of essential oils.
    Related: Hand Massage & Nail Care

  5. Physical Contact
    Brush hair, hold hands.
    Related: Comfort Activities

  6. Photo Albums
    Look at family photo albums.
    Related: Tips for one-on-one Visits with Seniors

  7. Sensory Bean Bags
    Provide small bean bags made of different fabric textures: cotton, velvet and silk, and filled with different grains.
    Related: Balloon Bean Bags

  8. Music & Movies
    Foster emotional connections via music, videos, and movies. Clients may only watch/listen for 5 to 10 minutes but if they are engaged you are providing precious quality of life.
    • Comedy: The Marx Brothers, Laurel & Hardy, Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton or Abbott & Costello, Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis
    • Music: Music of the era when clients were 20 or 30 years old. Swing dance music, Big Bands, Glen Miller, Crosby, The Andrews Sisters.
      Note: If your client is younger you would offer 1960's and 1970's material e.g. Australians would love to hear 'The Seekers'.
    • Movies: Casablanca, Lassie Comes Home, How Green Was My Valley, Waterloo Bridge, Gone with the Wind, Heidi.
    Related: The Benefits of Individual Music Activities for the Elderly
    Related: Free Music Playlists for Seniors

  9. Scent stimulation
    Put a diffuser in the bedroom with their favourite scent.
    Related: Vaporisation Activity and Aromatherapy Inhalations

  10. Bird watching
    Sit in the garden where they can see birds pecking at a seed tray.
    Related: Bird Watching

  11. Sunshine & fresh air
    Sit together in the sunshine to enjoy the sights and sounds for 10-15 minutes. Make sure the person has a wide brim hat, and sun lotion on arms and legs. Avoid the sun between 11 and 3 pm. Offer cool drinks.
    Related: Sunshine & Song

  12. Matching Colours
    Break instructions into small tasks, and wait for each task to end e.g. Ask client to pass you the red lids and put the red container nearby and then wait.
    Related: Matching Colours Activities

  13. Read Aloud
    Research indicates that people with Alzheimer's Disease may be able to hear until very late into the illness. Read articles in magazines and newspapers that the person enjoyed in former times.

  14. Sight Stimulation
    Change the visuals inside bedrooms on a regular basis: posters, pot plants, family photographs, fresh flowers, mobiles and celebration decorations to make the person feel loved, and included.
    Related: Sensory Stimulation with Wind Chimes

  15. Watch a game of Sports
    Watching sports on TV can still be enjoyable. Decorate the room with the colours of their favourite team. Bring in sporting equipment such as a balls (cricket, baseball, soccer) or a leather glove to touch, feel and smell. Sing part of a sports anthem and see if you get any signs of recognition. Bring a couple of enlarged picture of famous sports people to show and talk about.

Good Luck!

Related: 20 Practical Activities for People Living with Alzheimer's Disease

We'd love to hear your feedback!
Do you have any activities for late-stage Alzheimer's to share?


mariatancincoouano 22nd Oct 2016
My 70 yr old sick with dementia.I'm her caregiver.Very hard but challenging.Our country is 3rd world country.No support from our government for they don't know bout dementia.We are financially struggling for support.
K. Stumpf 13th Sep 2016
Using high school students to read to the person or sing (many students need service hours).
Dara 9th Jun 2016
I have found little hand held fans which they can hold themselves ( little amount of guidance needed depending on level of disease) offers a sense of comfort and control of an activity . Thanks for guidance
Solange 4th Feb 2016
Thank you all for the feedback. It is really appreciated. Best wishes.
Kathryn 4th Feb 2016
I've just made some hand sized bean bags for our residents at work to use for games or just as a sensory experience, but I hadn't thought of using different materials and different fillings! Will definitely be doing this since they were so easy to throw together with my sewing machine, and I can always ask the kitchen to supply different things for filling them!
Jennifer 2nd Feb 2016
a good reminder for people with simple basic caring time with people
kay 2nd Feb 2016
Thank you for a very helpful website with lots of interesting ideas
Satomi 2nd Feb 2016
Back to basics. Thanks for bringing up this topic again. As I'm the only Golden Carers member at my work, I'll show this page at the work computer. Sometimes reading the webpage together has a greater impact and hopefully all refresh how we conduct with the residents who are the late stage of Alzheimer. Thanks again.


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