Alzheimer’s Care and Recreational Therapies

July 14, 2021

National Therapeutic Recreation Week has been celebrated during the second week of July since 1984. Established by the National Therapeutic Recreation Society, the week is intended to raise awareness of therapeutic recreation programs and services that could improve the health and well-being of individuals with physical, mental, and emotional disabilities.

Recreational therapy refers to the use of recreation and other activities used as treatment interventions provided by professionals who are trained and certified. There are many life skills and simple daily tasks we take for granted. They may come so easily to most of us that we fail to recognize the great impact they have on our overall health. People with disabilities, mental health challenges or other injuries can suffer from a lack of these everyday life skills and general well being. 

Who Can Benefit from Recreational Therapy

Research has shown that recreational therapy can have positive outcomes for a number of different people of all ages. Some examples of types of people whom recreational therapy can benefit are:

  • Physically disabled
  • Mentally disabled
  • Elderly People
  • Pediatric Patients
  • Developmental Disabilities
  • Brain Injuries
  • Psychiatric Disorders


Recreational therapists say that activities done for enjoyment and exercise provide physical and sensory stimulation, which improves brain function. Recreational activities also help in reducing behavioral symptoms of dementia, such as agitation, aggression, screaming, and wandering, according to an article in the journal, Geriatrics & Aging.

Each activity used in recreational therapy is used for a purpose. Patients with Alzheimer’s may use memory games and do crafts that help link synapses in the brain. Individuals with balance issues can try bowling which helps develop balance and strength simultaneously. Exercise, dance, music and other creative expression activities help with a range of mental health illnesses. Pet therapy is another form of recreational therapy. One type is “Beta Fish Therapy” which can lower blood pressure and depression, simply by observing the tranquil, beautiful fish. Balancing stones on top of one another is a concentration activity that promotes mindfulness and stress management.

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