15 Sensory Activities for Late Stage Alzheimer's

15 Sensory Activities for Late Stage Alzheimer's

Categories: Activities Articles Dementia

Dealing with the effects of Alzheimer's Disease is a long and challenging process for the everyone involved. It is especially difficult when the late stage of the illness is reached.
This is one of many free samples.
Golden Carers has 1000s of activities and resources for senior care.

Dealing with the effects of Alzheimer's Disease is a long and challenging process for the everyone involved. It is especially difficult in the late stage of the illness.

Symptoms of Late-Stage Alzheimer's

Depending on the Alzheimer's Disease model you are looking at, the late stage is the third or the seventh stage. It can last a few months or a few years. A this stage the client is generally incapacitated and suffering from a dramatic loss of verbal skills, inability to recognize loved ones and difficulty with mobility, among other challenges.

Quality of Life and Dignity

The focus of care at this stage is on quality of life and dignity. The client must be treated with respect and compassion and provided with emotional support. Although they may no longer be able to communicate verbally, there is a lot you can do to provide comfort and reassurance. 

Focus on Sensory Activities

In the later stages of Alzheimer's, people experience the world primarily through the senses. So focus on the 5 senses: incorporate sensory activities into your program that promote relaxation and well-being.

Pay Attention to Non Verbal Cues

Pay attention to non verbal signs and body language e.g. wincing, shifting, gestures. Remember non-verbal communication represents two-thirds of all communication.

Related: How to Respond to Concerning Behaviour

Reduce Background Noise

Reduce background noise where possible and avoid radio and TV; instead play soft and soothing music with sounds of rain, ocean waves or birds chirping.

Treat everyone as an Individual

The goal for late stage Alzheimer's Disease is to make life as good as it can possibly be: physically, emotionally and mentally.

Take into account the historic profile of the individual, likes and dislikes, and provide activities that cater to their remaining strengths and abilities.

10 Spiritual Activities for People with Dementia

15 Sensory Activities for Late Stage Alzheimer's

Visual props in bedrooms - a small fish tank, a bird feeder at the window, a clock, fresh flowers, hanging mobiles, lava or bubble lamps.
Wind chimes in bedrooms or scenic nature photographs which you can change weekly.
Gentle hand/foot massages (1 tablespoon of sweet almond oil and 2 drops of lavender).
Pet therapy (ask family if person is fond of animals). ‘Borrow’ a puppy or a kitten for them to touch.
Activity aprons for restless clients. Also offer comfort items such as soft toys, tactile balls.
Fabric Books (infant books are suitable).
Read a poem or part of a book that has meaning to them (ask the family for ideas). Even if the person does not understand what is read, the tone and rhythm of your voice may help them feel in safe hands.
Play music they enjoy (ask family) or something from their ethnic background.
Scented candles (unlit) in bedroom. An aromatherapy essential oil diffuser is another option.
Tasting - ice blocks, jelly, and ice cream. Check with senior clinical staff first because many people with late-stage Alzheimer's have difficulty swallowing.
Grooming - brush hair, apply moisturizer.
Sit outdoors together, holding hands.
Speak gently and reassuringly to them. It may help to make them feel safe and secure.
Make a box of mementos to reminisce with - medals, books, photos and sit quietly with them showing them the items one by one in an unhurried way.
Position bed or wheelchair near window or door for sensory stimulation.

15 (more) Activities for Late-Stage Alzheimers

We'd love to hear your feedback.
What activities have you found to work well with late stage Alzheimer's?


Darla 10th Dec 2014
Cathy, terrific ideas for your sensory basket. Thank you for sharing them with us, I hope to incorporate a couple of the ideas into our baskets.
Cathy 10th Oct 2014
We have a sensory basket. It is an old wicker picnic basket filled with things to touch and do. EG: different textured material, feather boa, scourer pad, I spy bag, artificial flower ( we spray it with perfume occasionally), bells, brush, squishy ball, bubble maker and more items like that.
We had an elderly farmer and he use to have a black and white Kelpie he loved. I found a stuffed toy kelpie in an op shop and bought it for him in mind. He loved it and would sit patting it for ages and when I spoke to him anout his dog he would smile. I once asked him if he "whistled up" his dog and how was it done. Lo and behold! he started whistling! Now the farmer has passed on but the "dog" is still used for dog lovers for cuddles.
kareen 21st Jul 2013
in our Dementia area we did a touch and feel painting that was quite large and we had a beach effect where sand was applied, and shells to touch residents would feel the painting and say how they used to go to the beach and pick shells ...we also had a cassowary put in their with the black feathers tiles to create a bridge and fishes that had sequins in for scales unendless sensory moments residents loved this
Marina 28th Feb 2013
I have middle to late stage dementia, and I find our residents love country western music(old style) 60's music and Cook Island music. Some tap their feet, some get up and dance or jiggle, and you can feel the happiness in the room. We dont have a T.V. in our activities room.
Marina - Secure Dementia wing
karen 27th Feb 2013
hi my name is Karen we also did memory boards with pictures of old adds and products ie, carnation milk ads arrowroot biscuits and old arnotts biscuit tins and they loved it and talked about what they cooked with the canned milk


No Avatar