It’s important to find activities that are engaging and geared toward your or your loved one’s individual needs.

One senior might find an activity inviting, while another may find it boring.

 

Activities for seniors with dementia should be:

Structured

Purposeful

Routine

Individualized

 

Cognitive activities for seniors with dementia should focus on:

Creativity

Sensory stimulation

Building social connections

Memory stimulation

 

The most fun activities for seniors with dementia are the ones that foster creativity.

Creative and satisfying activities reduce common symptoms of dementia like:

Agitation

Anxiety

Depression

Anger

 

Studies have even shown that creative activities can improve sundowning and reduce the need for medication in seniors with dementia.

 

Creative Activities

Knitting and crocheting are great activities for seniors with dementia. The repetitive action can be therapeutic and it fosters success in creativity.

 

Personalized Picture Puzzle

Make a picture puzzle in 3 easy steps:

Make a copy of a picture that’s meaningful to your senior — like family or a special place.

Laminate the photo.

Cut the photo into puzzle-shaped pieces. Be sure that it’s not too many or too small of pieces.

 

Crafts

Arts and crafts are an easy and effective activity for seniors with dementia because it promotes and maintains creativity through self-expression.

Simple and safe arts & crafts include projects like:

Drawing

Beading

Painting

Ceramics

 

Sensory stimulation is especially important for seniors with late-stage dementia.

These seniors will typically experience large declines in reasoning and language but still have their physical senses.

Sensory stimulation consists of any activity that stimulates one of the five senses:

Sight

Smell

Touch

Taste

Sound

 

Research shows that seniors with dementia exhibited short-term positive effects on behavior and psychological well-being after sensory stimulation.

 

Culinary Activities

It doesn’t have to be anything too complicated. Simply helping gather ingredients helps seniors with dementia feel needed.

An activity all can enjoy is baking. The kneading and rolling of dough can spark the tactile senses.

Fragrant pastries such as …

Bread

Cookies

Pies

The scent stimulates the appetite, promoting healthy eating habits.

 

Folding Laundry

The familiar activity of folding soft fabrics along with the repeated motion can be calming.

Factor in the classic detergent smells and this activity may elicit comforting memories for your senior.

Folding laundry keeps them happily engaged in an activity they can easily feel successful at.

 

It doesn’t matter how well or poorly the laundry is folded – as long as your loved one feels good about the activity.

 

Therapy Animals

In addition to companionship, unconditional love, and fun, therapy animals can help reduce the effects of dementia in seniors including:

Anxiety

Agitation

Irritability

Depression

Loneliness

 

Community Activities

One of the most important things about being in a community is having the opportunity for social connections.

There are also small ways to encourage contribution to household well-being such as:

Watering plants

Helping with meal preparation

Setting the table

Dusting

 

Group Games

Playing group games can stimulate both cognitive and social interaction.

Dominoes

Cards

Checkers

Bingo

Chess

Traditional games can be easier than learning the rules of a new and unfamiliar game. This can stimulate memory as they remember how to play from when they were younger.

 

Outdoor Activities

There are several factors to keep in mind when planning outdoor activities for seniors with dementia

Physical limitations

Risk of wandering

Transportation

Weather

Time of year

 

Spending time outdoors on a pleasant day doing fall activities for seniors with dementia can also help relax and lower levels of depression and anxiety.

 

Memory Activities 

Seniors suffering from dementia are more likely to lose the ability to remember names or what they had for dinner that night than childhood and early life memories.

Most seniors with dementia can still recall things like their school years or wedding day.

That’s why exercises in reminiscence therapy have the potential to cultivate positive feelings by drawing upon long-term, happy memories.

 

When creating memory activities, try using sensory or visual cues from the past to help seniors reconnect with positive memories.

Use gentle guidance and general questions instead of direct questions that could become confusing or frustrating.

 

Routines

Scheduled mealtimes are a great routine in themselves.

The routine builds procedural memory and promotes community.

You can create an event out of mealtimes or regularly scheduled coffee/snack times.

Having something to look forward to can brighten the day of a senior with dementia.

 

Music

Multiple studies have confirmed that music releases dopamine, a chemical in the brain associated with feelings of joy and pleasure.

Other studies have that music therapy can help seniors with dementia recall memories and provide moments of clarity.

For those seniors who have enjoyed music throughout their lives, listening to classics or singing memorable songs and holiday carols may bring back joyous memories of earlier days.

 

History

Activities that use multi-sensory items selected to stimulate memories revolving around your senior’s history like …

Creating a memory box

Watching old movies

Looking through or making photo albums; and

Looking through old magazines

 

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