Dementia describes a group of symptoms related to a decline in brain function. Certain activities may enhance the quality of life of someone who has dementia.
There are many activities a person can do with someone who has dementia. This article considers 30 of the best activities for people with dementia and provides tips on how to organize them.
The Alzheimer’s Association notes that participating in activities can help a person with dementia by:
- improving quality of life
- reducing behaviors such as agitation or wandering
- providing a sense of accomplishment, purpose, usefulness, or engagement
- enhancing a sense of dignity and self-esteem
- providing a sense of normality
Research from 2020 also found that participating in activities outside of care facilities helped improve the psychological and physical health of people with dementia.
This section discusses the best indoor activities for someone with dementia.
1. Look through old pictures
Visual aids, such as photographs, can help a person with dementia regain a sense of personal identity.
Making a scrapbook of old photos together can help create a sense of familiarity and comfort. It also allows people to reminisce about their past.
Looking through old photos can also help a person who has dementia by:
- keeping them engaged in the present
- creating positive feelings and contentment
- distracting them when they are stressed or anxious
2. Listen to music
Music can help a person with dementia reconnect with their past. The Alzheimer’s Association notes that listening to music can help a person with dementia by:
- reducing agitation
- improving behavioral issues
- allowing self-expression and engagement
3. Do arts and crafts
Arts and crafts, such as painting or coloring, can be a way for a person with dementia to express themselves. It can also give them a sense of purpose and accomplishment.
4. Knit or crochet
The United Kingdom charity Knit For Peace found that knitting and crocheting can provide the following benefits:
- lowered anxiety and depression
- slowed onset of dementia
- improved sense of well-being, usefulness, and inclusion
- reduced loneliness and isolation
5. Cuddle a pet
Petting, cuddling, or walking a pet can benefit a person with dementia.
- reducing depression
- improving emotional well-being
6. Play instruments
- improvement to cognitive function
- increased emotional well-being and mood
- sense of social involvement
Encouraging a person with dementia to play an instrument they used to play may help them reminisce and feel more connected with themselves.
7. Do household chores
Performing simple chores, such as setting the table or sweeping the floor, can help a person with dementia to feel included. It may also help them to feel useful and give them a sense of accomplishment.
8. Watch their favorite shows on TV
Watching favorite TV shows or old movies may help engage a person with dementia. Certain TV shows may stimulate specific memories, allowing them to reconnect with their past.
This section looks at the best outdoor activities for someone with dementia.
9. Do some gardening
Therapeutic gardening can provide the following benefits for people with dementia:
- improved cognitive function
- reduced agitation
- improved emotional state
10. Walk in the park
Going for a walk can be a beneficial activity for someone with dementia. A
- improved physical health
- provided social connections
- provided an opportunity to be in nature
- gave structure and focus
11. Play catch
People can play catch using balloons or soft balls. Playing catch is a physical activity and can help a person with dementia stay active.
Playing catch may also provide social connections and a sense of achievement.
12. Feed the birds
Feeding or watching birds can be enjoyable for a person with dementia.
- stress reduction
- improved mental health
- a connection to nature
- reduced anxiety
This section considers the best physical activities for someone with dementia.
13. Dance to music
Dancing can be a way for a person with dementia to be active. The
14. Do yoga
Yoga is a practice that involves physical poses, concentration, and conscious breathing.
- cognitive function
15. Use a treadmill
Research from 2020 looked at the effect of treadmill exercise in mice with Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers found that, after 4 months, the mice had increased learning and memory skills.
However, further research is required to understand the effects of treadmill exercise in humans with dementia.
16. Lift weights
Weightlifting is a form of resistance training.
Research from 2020 found that resistance training can help to improve:
- cognitive function
- working memory
- flexible thinking
This section looks at the best cognitive activities for someone with dementia.
17. Do a puzzle
Doing puzzles, such as jigsaws or crosswords, can provide mental stimulation for a person with dementia. Solving simple puzzles may help to give a person with dementia:
- a sense of achievement
- improved self-esteem
- a sense of togetherness with the person they are puzzling with
18. Play a board game
Simple board games, such as Chutes and Ladders or Checkers, may mentally stimulate a person with dementia.
- keeping brain cells active
- encouraging problem-solving and social interaction
- improving hand-eye coordination
19. Read a book aloud
Certain forms of dementia can cause a person to lose the ability to read. Reading to a person with dementia can help them to enjoy books they cannot read themselves.
Listening to a story may also stimulate the imagination of a person with dementia.
20. Play a card game
Card games, such as poker and snap, may help a person with dementia
- social communication skills
21. Ask questions
Talking with a person with dementia and asking them questions may help to stimulate certain memories.
A person may want to ask them about:
- their childhood
- happy events from the past
22. Write cards or letters to family members
A person may use this activity to gently remind the person who certain family members are. It may also help to bring up memories of that person.
23. Play a computer game
People can play computer games on many devices, such as game consoles or tablets. Research from
Additionally, research from
- multi-sensory performance
- planning, practical, and calculating abilities
- cognitive performance
The Alzheimer’s Society in the U.K. notes that spending time together may benefit both the child and the person with dementia.
Learning and doing activities together can help strengthen family connections and create new memories.
24. Finger painting
Finger painting can provide sensory stimulation for a person with dementia.
Collaborating on an art piece together can be a fun way for a child and a person with dementia to bond.
25. Play with building blocks
Playing with building blocks is a fun and easy way to stimulate creativity and coordination.
26. Have a tea party
Having a tea party with children may be a good bonding activity for a person with dementia.
Pretending to serve tea may stimulate the imagination of a person with dementia and help provide a sense of familiarity.
This section looks at the best social activities for someone with dementia.
27. Join a book club together
Attending a book club for people with dementia may provide a person with certain benefits, such as social interaction.
Research from 2018 looked into the benefits of being part of a dementia-friendly book club. Researchers found that reading classic fiction, such as A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, was a comforting and familiar activity for people with dementia.
28. Attend a dementia support group
Dementia support groups are gatherings that allow people with dementia, as well as their loved ones and caregivers, an opportunity to share advice and information.
- social and emotional benefits
- providing understanding and support, which may allow a person to cope better with their condition
29. Plan a video call with family
People can set up video calls using webcams, mobile phones, or tablets.
Video calls can help a person with dementia stay connected to their family from the safety of a familiar environment. It may also help with feelings of isolation or loneliness.
30. Attend a religious worship place
Religion may be important to a person with dementia. Taking them to a place of worship, such as a church, mosque, or synagogue,
Going to a place of worship may also help the person with dementia feel a sense of belonging and spirituality, and may stimulate happy memories.
A person who has dementia may have difficulty planning their day by themselves.
- try and do things at a similar time each day
- match the activity to the person’s ability
- choose activities that are fun for everyone
- help the person get started
- decide if the person can do the activity alone or if they need help
- watch to see if the person gets frustrated
- ensure the person has fun and feels successful
- let them watch the activity if they prefer
There are many activities a person can do with someone who has dementia. Different activities can provide different benefits.
When planning activities for a person with dementia, a person should ensure the activities are safe and beneficial for that individual.