Creating a Purposeful Day with Adults with Alzheimer’s

April 24, 2017

Caring for Parents with Alzheimer's

Everyone benefits from a sense of purpose, but for adults with Alzheimer’s disease, it’s especially important. Here’s why, plus some advice for planning a purposeful day.


There are times in life when anyone can lose sight of their sense of purpose. It often happens when we encounter especially traumatic hurdles or life transitions, such as unemployment, divorce, loss of someone important, or retirement. Very often, one way out of a state of hopelessness is to find new purpose in life. The key is to discover new activities that make us feel whole and purposeful again.

But for someone who’s suffering from the effects Alzheimer’s disease, that sense of purpose is elusive and fleeting, if it comes at all. Those who care for someone with this disease quickly learn that scheduling daily activities which provide a sense of purpose is vital to the overall well-being of their loved one.

Creating a Sense of Purpose for a Person with Alzheimer’s Disease

Everyone, no matter what their health status, benefits from a sense of purpose. There have even been studies showing that purposefulness brings protective health benefits, especially in seniors. And it’s not just that it makes us happy to feel useful- it’s the meaningful work that keeps us healthy longer.

So it stands to reason that purposefulness can benefit someone with Alzheimer’s disease or any other dementia-related condition, for that matter. With this in mind, here’s some guidance on creating a purposeful day for an adult who has Alzheimer’s disease.

It Starts with What You Already Know

Finding purpose can be as simple as drawing upon what your loved has always enjoyed. Did he or she love animals? Magazines with cute pictures of four-legged friends are surprisingly soothing and delightful. Sometimes people enjoy cutting out the pictures and making a collage or simply pinning them onto a bulletin board. This is only an example, though. Use this concept to tailor an activity for your loved one based on his or her interests and lifestyle.

Be Sensitive to Their Cognitive Level

Remember: there are different levels of cognition as the disease progresses. Don’t create activities that are too difficult or rely too heavily on memory skills. On the other hand, it’s equally important not to schedule activities that your loved one might find insulting. If the magazine activity from above is too childish, consider watching funny movies or YouTube videos of cute animals together. Goodness knows, there are enough of them out there!

Dole Out Chores, but Don’t Judge

Helping with basic tasks is an obvious way to bring purpose, but don’t be too harsh if the results are less than optimal. The idea is to promote a sense of purpose, not enlist a household worker.

If the dishes aren’t quite clean after your loved one finishes with them, simply rinse them off later without saying anything. The important thing is that your family member feels useful.

Purposeful Tasks Can Help Minimize Unsafe Wandering

Finally, there’s an added benefit to helping someone with Alzheimer’s disease find purpose in their day. It’s actually a matter of safety, too.

In their recommendations for dementia care practices, the Alzheimer’s Association suggests that engaging your loved one in activities is a way of reducing wandering. If you’re familiar with the disease, you already know that wandering a major safety concern. While it’s nearly impossible to prevent this symptom of dementia, it is possible to prepare for it and to minimize the frequency.

The key point here is that by taking a holistic approach to Alzheimer’s care, caregivers can help maintain a safe, healthy environment for loved ones who are suffering from the disease’s effects. We all need purpose in our lives and finding ways to create meaning in your own life can help guide how you create a purposeful day for someone with Alzheimer’s disease.

Alzheimer’s Care and Support at Legacy Senior Living

Want to learn more about care for someone with Alzheimer’s? We have nationally recognized memory care programs staffed by knowledgeable and compassionate professionals. Our therapy programs, including The Purposeful Day, are nationally acclaimed and can help your loved one live to his or her fullest potential.

Each day, we focus on providing “A Purposeful Day” for our residents.  Our caring staff is trained to value each resident and to recognize the different histories, current desires, and needs.  A Purposeful Day focuses of four types of non-drug therapy – Reminisce Therapy, Trusted Voice Therapy, Time and Place Therapy, and Music Therapy. Call us to learn more today!