12 Activities for People with Dementia

According to the World Health Organisation, more than 47 million people are living with dementia across the world. People who have dementia and Alzheimer’s disease often withdraw from family, friends and even from the activities they once found treasure in.

This affects not only the sick person but also their caregivers and family.  Living with dementia does not mean that the affected persons should not lead a quality life.

Stimulating activities and hobbies for people with dementia reduce depression, agitation, anxiety, anger, and other negative emotion that stems from memory loss.

12 activities for people with dementia

  1. Exercising
  2. Getting artistic
  3. Listening to music
  4. Playing a musical instrument
  5. Solving puzzles
  6. Cooking or baking
  7. Gardening
  8. Cleaning or performing light household chores
  9. Watching movies
  10. Reading
  11. Crosswords
  12. Visiting friends and family

You can read more about these activities below.

Here is also a short video with 21 activities and hobbies that the elderly or seniors can also enjoy.



What activities can people with dementia engage in?

Each person is different, and the activities they should engage in will largely depend on their past profession, social interests, recreational activities, significant events in their life, and their hobbies.

Hence, you might need to undertake some trial and error before you establish what activities appeal to them. Some of the activities you can encourage people who have dementia to take part in include:-

1. Exercising

A dementia patient gains the same benefits as any other person when they exercise regularly. However, ensure you talk to their doctor on their exercise program.

Simple exercises include cycling, aerobics, gym work, and walking, which is an all-around exercise.

Walking helps the patient work off the urge to wander off which is characteristic of most dementia patients. You can combine the walk with another errand such as walking the dog or buying something at the local store.

Here are 20 minutes of exercises the elderly can do.


2. Getting artistic

Did the patient enjoy such things as painting, crocheting, knitting, quilting, and so on? All you have to do is adapt the activity to the patient’s interests and abilities. Other art and craft activities include modelling with clay and colouring.

3. Listening to music

Music reduces agitation, shifts the listener’s mood, and improves their cognitive function. Researchers claim that while dementia causes progressive memory loss on the patients, the memory for music is never lost.

This implies that the songs the patient knows will remain memorable long after faces, words, and names are forgotten.  At the beginning of the day, allow the patient to listen too happy and animated songs to set the pace for the day. You can use soft and calming music to ease into the nighttime routine.

Amazon music is somewhere where you can easily get access to music and some if it for free.

4.Playing a musical instrument

Simply because the patient’s memory is lost or impaired does not mean they have to give up what they love doing the most. Playing a favourite musical instrument is a great activity for the dementia patient as it stimulates their memory in a relaxed and familiar way.

5. Solving puzzles

Solving puzzles improves the patient’s visual, spatial, and cognitive skills. Besides, it improves their problem-solving skills and is a stimulating brain workout.

Avoid children puzzles as they are mostly centred on childish themes and are too easy. At the same time, avoid complex puzzles as they could only make the patient feel hopeless and frustrated. Pick out a puzzle isn’t too easy to solve.

Although there are quite a number of puzzles on the internet meant for dementia patients, you can make some yourself. Simply print out a large photo of the patient’s loved one or a family photo, have it laminated, and cut it out in sizeable pieces and have the patient solve the puzzle.

6. Cooking or baking

Pull out old family recipes and have the patient help you prepare it. However, be sure to supervise or handle everything that could involve the stove. You can involve them in simple cooking activities such as peeling and washing vegetables.


7. Gardening

Pulling out weeds, raking fallen leaves, and planting flowers and vegetables is a perfect way to get the person out of the house to enjoy the sunshine.

Whether they will be doing so in a flowerbed or a window box, gardening will give both the patient and caregiver a sense of pride as they see the fruits of their labour flourish.

You can also relax and admire your work in a garden recliner chair.

8. Cleaning or performing light house chores

While you could probably accomplish tasks such as making the bed, dusting, setting the table, organising a closet, and so on much faster on your own, asking the person you are caring for to help provides them with a sense of purpose. It also makes them feel valued and needed.

9. Watching movies

Comedies, sitcoms, and musicals provide the necessary entertainment without needing to follow an intricate plot. Watching their favourite movies could elicit old family memories and keep them engaged.

10. Reading

Reading is a light and fun activity for the imagination and the brain. The caregiver can read the stories out loud or ask the dementia patient to read. Short fiction or non-fiction stories are better as they do not demand too much of their attention span. Try to find stories or magazines that relate to their past.

11. Crosswords

Solving the crossword is a low-stress workout for the patient’s memory and is also a great way to stimulate their problem-solving skills. Fortunately, multiple websites are offering free printable crosswords, and you can select one that meets the interests of the patient.

These crosswords are easy to complete thus giving the patient a sense of accomplishment and pride.


12. Visiting friends or family

Anxiety and depression in dementia patients are quite common, but they can be avoided by ensuring that meaningful connections with friends and family are maintained.

Being socially engaged also improves the patient’s brain health and gives them a chance to talk about old memories. Going through photo albums with them is a great way to stimulate their memory.

When planning activities and hobbies for people with dementia, try to keep them simple and unhurried. It would also help if you broke them down into easy and manageable steps.

Another option would be to visit a day care centre and use that as an opportunity to interact with different people.

Make the activities fun and make sure that the working area is free of clutter to reduce the chances of getting distracted. Keep adapting the activities until they are enjoyable. Be selective when it comes to outings as dementia patients can be overwhelmed by too much noise, constant movements and crowds.



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