Failure-Free Activities

In a survey of caregivers, more than 90 percent of respondents expressed that their biggest challenge was finding recreational activities that kept cognitively impaired individuals engaged in meaningful activities. As part of our training at Our Family Home, we have established a comprehensive program of ‘failure-free’ activities, which we will be presenting soon in partnership with the Central Ohio Alzheimer’s Association’s First Friday.

When you’re caring for someone with memory disease, finding a variety of meaningful activities can be challenging but the results of this type of engagement can be incredibly beneficial. According to Marybeth Cartmille, Our Family Home’s Director of Marketing and Admissions, “We offer ‘failure-free’ activities, which means each activity is adapted in some way to meet the needs and capacity of individuals with memory loss. We want to create a situation where they succeed.”

The goal of ‘failure-free’ activities is to create a situation where the individuals involved won’t fail and instead reap the benefits of moment-to-moment satisfaction and increased self-esteem. Marybeth and the team at Our Family Home have been leading ‘failure-free’ activities in respite care groups during the Alzheimer’s Association’s First Fridays for more than three years.

“Our staff is well-trained to care for individuals at all stages of memory disease, so this is an important way for us to give back. We’re able to use our experience to provide a short period of rest for caregivers and active participation and engagement for seniors,” added Marybeth.

There are a few general guidelines to follow when choosing activities for individuals with memory disease:

  1. Focus on activities that are simple, repetitive, stress free and realistic for the current stage of the disease.
  2. Relate the project to work or life. Often individuals with memory disease believe they are a certain age or in a certain period of life. Try to connect activities to where they are.
  3. Avoid tasks that require new learning, abstract concepts or complex materials.
  4. Be creative. A lot of regular activities can be easily adapted. Reduce the number of steps, simplify the rules or shorten the time period.
  5. Have fun. Smile, laugh and keep it light.

If you’re interested in learning more about First Fridays or would like to register, you can call 1-800-272-3900 or visit