21 Activities For People with Dementia

Encouraging people with dementia to stay engaged and active can sometimes be a challenge if you haven’t done it before.  Below are 21 ideas to help you succeed. Be sensitive to the person’s abilities and desires.  Remember to keep the instructions simple and clear, pick the best time of day to engage the person, offer choices, be patient, flexible and creative and have fun!

1.  Physical activity – exercise (group or individual, walking, yoga)

2. Games, puzzles, crossword puzzles

3. Meal preparation (stirring, washing, mixing, tasting)

4. Housekeeping (folding, dusting, make the bed)

5. Music (listening to favorites, singing, live shows)

6. Work-type activities (safe items from the person’s professional work: a desk, papers to sort, tools)

7. Personal grooming (fix hair, do nails)

8. Gardening (watering, planting)

9. Massage (hand or foot, be sensitive to personal space issues)

10. Attending religious services

11. Magazines or books (pictures, familiar people or places)

12. Outings (art museums, coffee shop, beach)

13. TV (approprite and in small amounts, classic movies, Animal Planet, comedies like “I Love Lucy”)

14. Arts and crafts (meaningful and purposeful, not just to fill time)

15. Attend senior center or day care programs (when appropriate and the group’s ability levels match your needs)

16. Pet care (feeding, combing, petting)

17. Sorting (poker chips, coins, cards, silverware)

18. Engage with children (intergenerational activities)

19. Meditation and quiet time (soft music, low sensory input, holding soft animals and blankets)

20. Reminisce (structured discussions about old memories)

21. Eating (going for a favorite meal, ice cream shake)

Do you have other activities that have worked well?  Please let me know so I can post and share them with others!

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