Online therapeutic activities for people with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers

Elderly woman and a younger woman work on a jigsaw puzzle.

Are you at your wit’s end trying to find something that your loved one can do that doesn’t require driving to an ice cream parlor or sitting through a movie that you’ve both watched a dozen times?

The Alzheimer’s Federation of America’s Teal Room is a godsend for those who need therapeutic activities that you can enjoy in your own space via a computer or other electronic device.

Developed in 2021 as a free online classroom, the AFA Teal Room offers on-demand recordings of creative arts therapies, musical performances, participatory music sessions and sing-alongs, fitness and movement classes, and art, gardening, and nature programs.

Music videos

  • Sundays with Suzanne is a fun music program that includes songs from Broadway Musicals. In one 30-minute performance, Suzanne sang “Take Me Back to New York” from the musical The New Yorkers by Cole Porter, and “Where or When” written by Rodgers and Hart from the musical Babes in Arms.
  • A brief energetic dance performance by The New York Studio of Irish Step Dance will have everyone in the room tapping their feet.
  • Steven Carl McCasland plays the piano for half-hour concerts including tunes from The Golden Age of Broadway, and Gershwin hits.
  • Anthony Ferrara plays jazz classics such as “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” on the clarinet.

Art Therapy

Marnie is an art therapist who leads a class starting with a breathing exercise to induce relaxation. She follows this with “scratch word art.” Materials required: black tempera paint, oil pastels or crayons, masking tape, a paintbrush, popsicle sticks, or the back of a paintbrush used for scratching the design.

A therapeutic activity of the day is also offered such as an art appreciation tour of The Ermitage in Russia.

Tovertafel is an online interactive game company that has games specifically designed for seniors living with dementia. The games can be played individually or in a larger group. Their games are meant to provide cognitive, physical, social, and sensory stimulation for both elderly people and those living with dementia, and to those who care for them.

One of their games called “Leaves” activates players to swipe the swirling leaves off the table and enjoy the rustling sounds. It gives the feeling of being outside and keeps the players’ attention by having them look for lady bugs.

Other one-one-activities

  • Look at family photo albums and pictures of art and nature to prompt conversation.
  • Read a picture book together. Children’s stories can trigger childhood memories.
  • Visit the humane society and play with a dog or cat, if you don’t have one.
  • Plant starter seeds and have your loved one water them and watch them grow into plants that can be put into pots or an in-ground garden in the spring.
  • Make a family tree poster.
    • Work on a jigsaw puzzle.
  • Put some favorite music on and dance together.

Barbra Cohn cared for her husband Morris for 10 years. He passed away from younger-onset Alzheimer’s disease in 2010. Afterward, she was compelled to write “Calmer Waters: The Caregiver’s Journey Through Alzheimer’s & Dementia”–winner of the 2018 Book Excellence Award in self-help– in order to help other caregivers feel healthier and happier, have more energy, sleep better, feel more confident, deal with feelings of guilt and grief, and to ultimately experience inner peace. “Calmer Waters” is available at AmazonBarnes & NobleBoulder Book StoreTattered Cover Book Store,  Indie, and many other fine independent bookstores, as well as public libraries.