Best Friends Book of Alzheimer’s Activities, Volume One


ISBN 978-1-878812-88-9
224 pages
8.5  x 11 papercover
© 2004


Bring out the best in each person with dementia with these versatile, easy-to-implement Best Friends™ activities. A best friend knows your habits, what you like to do, and what makes you feel good. The Best Friends Book of Alzheimer’s Activities puts all of these qualities to work to help you transform the activity programming at your nursing facility, adult day center, assisted living facility, or home care setting. Staff, participants, and even family members will all benefit.

With the ideas and suggestions found in this book, any member of a program’s care staff can turn the simplest interaction with a person with dementia into an activity that helps satisfy essential physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. In these inspiring pages, you will find

  • formal and informal activities, with innumerable variations
  • communication and conversation tips
  • suggested songs and musical tie-ins
  • adaptations for people in the early and late stages of Alzheimer’s disease
  • activities for unprogrammed time, including evenings
  • ideas especially for men
  • opportunities for intergenerational exchanges
  • preventive measures to avoid unwanted surprises
  • reminders of the spiritual benefits inherent in good activities

Planning activities for people with dementia may seem challenging, but The Best Friends Book of Alzheimer’s Activities shows how easy and natural it can be.

Best Friends™ is a trademark of Health Professions Press, Inc.


1. Being Together Between Structured Times

  • Acknowledge Me
  • Use My Preferred Name
  • Be Affectionate
  • Listen to Me
  • Laugh with Me
  • Give Me a Hug
  • Take a Walk Outside
  • Reminisce with Me
  • Encourage Me
  • Give Me Compliments
  • Ask for My Opinion
  • Let Me Show You
  • Look Out the Window
  • Let Me Teach You
  • Invite Me to Help
  • Talk About Meaningful Subjects

2. Recreating the Classroom Experience

  • Flashback Fashions
  • Listen to the Wind
  • High School in the 1950s
  • Stop and Smell the Roses
  • Here Comes the Bride
  • On the Road Again
  • Living “Down on the Farm”
  • Trips to the Ocean
  • Music to My Ears
  • Winter Memories
  • Summertime
  • An Apple a Day
  • “Bean” There, Done That
  • Colors of the Rainbow
  • Hats Off to You
  • Thanksgiving Blessings
  • Camping Out
  • Remembering Childhood Games
  • Bright Lights/Big City
  • Celebrating Cinco de Mayo

3. Let’s Create

  • Sandpaper Art
  • Ink Paintings of Winter Trees
  • Writing Poetry
  • Folded Paper Paintings
  • Dab It!
  • Stenciling
  • Marbling
  • Painting with Bubbles
  • Scrap Paper Art
  • Fantasy Character Collage
  • Fabric Landscapes
  • Egg Shell Art
  • Paper Mache Solar System
  • Faux Mosaics
  • Clay Pinch Pots
  • Flower Pounding
  • Painting with Marbles
  • Collage
  • Handmade Paper

4. Doing for Others

  • Creating One-of-a-Kind Greeting Cards
  • Making Envelopes for Greeting Cards
  • Making Bird Feeders
  • Creating Wrapping Paper
  • Decoupage
  • Bead Work
  • Sharing Life with Young Children
  • Potpourri
  • Be My Valentine
  • Sock Monkeys
  • Being a Volunteer
  • Sun Catchers
  • Planning an Art Show
  • Oranges with Cloves
  • Baking
  • Entertaining
  • Dog Biscuits

5. Games and Things to Do Together

  • Working with Letters
  • Fun with Words
  • Old Sayings
  • Affirming Adjectives
  • This Is Your Life
  • Table Games
  • Lotto
  • Who Is It?
  • Charades
  • Bowling
  • Horseshoes
  • Pitching and Catching
  • Batting a Balloon
  • What Is It?
  • Let’s Dance
  • Group Exercise

6. Personal Care as an Activity

  • Let’s Eat
  • Toileting
  • Dressing
  • Bathing
  • Hand Care
  • A Close Shave
  • Hair Brushing & Combing
  • Make-Up
  • Brushing Teeth
  • Moving and Stretching
  • Going to Bed
  • Waking Up

7. Especially for Men

  • Sports
  • Cars
  • Tools of the Trade
  • Scrap Wood Sculpture
  • Occupations
  • Military
  • Woodworking
  • Trains
  • Radio
  • Flags
  • Weather
  • Money
  • Newspapers
  • The Men’s Club
  • Hobbies

8. In the Home

  • Reading Together
  • Gardening
  • A Clean Sweep
  • Washing Dishes
  • Bon Appetit
  • Working Outside
  • Taking a Drive
  • Shopping
  • Talking on the Telephone
  • Dining Out
  • Creating a Bird Sanctuary
  • Being in the Community
  • Caring for Pets
  • Arranging Fresh Flowers
  • Traveling
  • Using the Computer
  • Laundry

9. After-Dinner Activities

  • Touring the Inside
  • Sit Beside Me
  • Postcard Collages
  • Remember When?
  • Lace Rubbings
  • Tea Time
  • Vintage Photographs
  • Chewing the Fat
  • Reading Aloud
  • Watching Television
  • Listening to Music
  • Wrapping Presents
  • Sing-along
  • Late-Night Snack
  • Night Owls

Conclusion: Mona Lisa and the Art of Good Alzheimer’s Care

Appendix A: Sources for Activity Professionals
Appendix B: Theme Boxes
Appendix C: Communication Tips


The Best Friends Book of Alzheimer’s Activities, Volume One (Bell Best Friends Activities Vol 1 Excerpt) by HealthProPress

Virginia Bell, M.S.W.

Virginia Bell, M.S.W. is Program Consultant for the Greater Kentucky/Southern Indiana Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. She is the founder of that association’s award-winning Helping Hand Adult Day Center. With David Troxel, she has co-authored numerous articles on dementia care and three books. She has lectured about the Best Friends approach in more than 20 countries.

David Troxel, M.P.H.

David Troxel, M.P.H., most recently served as President and CEO of the California Central Coast Alzheimer’s Association, Santa Barbara, California. Today he is a consultant and speaker for dementia and long-term care programs. He has worked in the field of dementia care since 1986 and currently serves on the Ethics Advisory Panel of the national Alzheimer’s Association. With Virginia Bell, he has co-authored numerous articles on dementia care and three books.

Tonya M. Cox, M.S.W.

Tonya M. Cox, M.S.W., is Vice President of Education and Programs for the Alzheimer’s Association serving greater Kentucky and southern Indiana. She began working in dementia care in 1995 in the Helping Hand Adult Day Program developing and leading activities for persons with memory loss. She also teaches and presents on activity programming and caring for persons with dementia.

Robin Hamon, M.S.W.

Robin Hamon, M.S.W., is Family Support Coordinator for the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center at the University of Kentucky Sanders Brown Center on Aging. She worked with the Alzheimer’s Association Lexington/Bluegrass Chapter for 11 years. During her tenure as program manager for the Helping Hand Day Center, she developed a creative art training program for staff and volunteers working with persons with dementia. Her special interests are in training and providing creative arts experiences for persons with dementia.


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