Lockdown pack for carers

Suggestions to help you cope with lockdown


It’s a strange time in history right now thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. For those who are with our elderly loved ones – the most vulnerable to serious complications from the virus – it can feel overwhelming, unsettling, and worrisome.

Here are some activity ideas you may be able to do together to keep them cognitively stimulated and active. I have put these suggestions together knowing that some of you will have access to different resources. Please also bear in mind that there is no right fit for these kind of activities so they will probably need to be modified to suit your needs and the level of comprehension that your loved one has.

Doing activities and giving your days some structure could prove calming for both you and the person you are caring for.

A few tips…

If the person you are caring for is reluctant, gently encourage them with some phrases like “Could you please help me with this” or “I know you are really good at this”.

– Break down the activity and give one at a time instructions.

– Set the activity out ready.

– Sit with the person and do it together to start with.

– Be aware that there may be things that they have been able to do before but they are not able to do today so adapt as you go along. 

And remember our Alzheimers Northland Community Advisors are available at the end of the phone. Please do call, we want to be able to help, support and offer advice, our office has closed but our team are working from their homes and you calls will be forwarded. We would love to hear your ideas too!

Aleisha, Diversional Therapist, Alzheimers Northland

Helping around the house

Everyone needs to feel useful and like they matter. Ask them to help, cooperate, or contribute to give them a sense of satisfaction and belonging.

– Sorting out packs of playing cards into suits or colours.

– Folding washing, tea towels, face clothes or towels.

– Rolling up bandages, ribbons or braids.

– Untying knots (a dozen sailor’s knots for example).

– Unraveling a wool sweater for recycling or rolling up balls of wool.

– Sorting buttons or beads into colours.

– Help dry dishes.

– Pairing up socks.

– Sorting, matching colours, shapes or numbers.

– Peeling veges for dinner or to make a soup.

It really doesn’t matter whether they get it all right or not – at least they have felt useful.


Fiddle Boxes and Sensory Kits

Rummage, Memory or Sensory Boxes are containers filled with everyday objects to assist people living with dementia to interact, communicate and reminisce. These activities can also be a soothing form of distraction. If you haven’t got a box use an ice-cream tub, bag or mixing bowl. Here are some suggestions of what a box might include:

– Men’s box – nuts, bolts, lock and key and tools.

– Ladies handbag- Hanky, coin purse, lipstick, glasses, pen, pad and beaded necklace.

Other ideas:

Homemade simple jigsaw puzzles – Use an old calendar, pictures, old cards or postcards and cut it into 8, 10 or 12 pieces depending on level of ability.

Collage – Use cut out pictures or old magazines and glue onto paper.

Cards – Play simple games such as matching pairs, sorting out colours or suits, or highest card wins.

There are loads of resources available if you have access to the internet. Here are a few suggestions to get you started…

– Watch some of your favourite musicians or songs online, encourage a sing along.

– Download a meditation app, Headspace is a great one!

– Schedule video calls with family members so they can speak with their loved ones and others.

– Google poetry, funny jokes, cute animal videos or short stories to read aloud.

– Armchair travel – Google places or countries you may have visited, or would like to visit this great for visual cues and to encourage reminiscing discussions.

– There are plenty of trivia quizzes on the internet – see links below.

Print out sheets of Spot the Difference, Find the Hidden Objects, Dot to Dots, Colouring pictures, Simple Word Finders or maybe a Crossword you could do together.

– Find an appropriate exercise session on YouTube.

Links to get you started:

Lots of great large print word searches and puzzles to download and print

Seated exercise routine

Home exercises warm up

Alzheimers Northland Facebook page

In such a strange time it is more important than ever to connect with your loved one in whatever way works for you. Here are a few suggestions…

Reminiscing / Discussions

– Bring out your old photos and albums.

– How about trying a few of these topic starters – occupations, family holidays, hobbies, school days, learning to drive, travel, raising children.

Baking Together

Work together to help mix ingredients, there are many no bake recipes out there that can be pressed into tins or put into patty cups. You could also …

– Ice biscuits.

– Prepare veges – peeling.

– Discussion on what ingredients you’d need to bake a chocolate cake, Christmas pudding etc.

Armchair Travel

Look at magazines, pictures online, photos, talk about where you have been and where you would like to go.

Music and Dance

Listen to music together and why not have a dance too.

Pamper Day

Give a hand massage, finger nail filing and painting or a foot massage.

It’s vital to try to be physically active while in isolation, physical activity does wonders for our mood and also helps to keep our minds and bodies healthy and helps cognitive functions. Here are a few suggestions…

Sit Fit exercises, stretches, exercises with scarves to music.

– Coin toss  

– Cushion throw into clothes basket.

– Making paper planes and having a flying competition.

– Painting old pots.

– Simon Says.

– Dancing to music.

– Play musical instruments.

Garden Activities

Make the most of the sunshine and sit outside and reminisce

Garden scavenger hunt – make a list of things to find such as red leaf, brown leaf, green leaf, a twig in the shape of a Y, a stone or maybe a butterfly or garden bug.   

Outdoor sensory time – What can you smell? What can you hear? What can you see? Whilst enjoying fresh air.

Gardening jobs – Re-potting plants, gentle weeding or harvesting fruit and vegetables.

Brain games are a fun thing to do together and keep the mind active and distracted from what is a stressful time. Here’s a few ideas to get you started…

– Reciting nursery rhymes.

– Finish the proverbs.

– Famous people, famous New Zealanders – What are they famous for?

– A-Z Quiz –food, occupations, animals, countries, fruit & veges, girls and boys names, sports or hobbies.

– Eye Spy

– Reminiscing / discussion topic cards – things I like to do, the best day of my life was, a famous person I would love to meet is, my favourite foods are… 

We have also put together some extra brain game sheets for you to download here…  

Brain Games DOWNLOAD #1

Brain Games DOWNLOAD  # 2 Finish the proverb

Brain Games DOWNLOAD  #3 Things that go together

Brain Games DOWNLOAD  #4 Word Games

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