13 Fun Activities For Alzheimer or Dementia Patients (2023)

Tips and ideas for Alzhemiers or Dementia caregivers to do with their loved ones (that are NOT children's toys!) How to keep your loved one amused without treating them like a child.

13 Fun Activities For Alzheimer or Dementia Patients (1)

Keeping Your Dementia Loved One Amused

Okay, let's call a spade a spade, sometimes we want our loved one to do something without us having to be involved. With that in mind, some of these ideas are “do alone” activities.

But honestly, most of these, at some level, will require you to participate even if your loved one is at the early stages of dementia.

I KNOW, you wish that you could plop them down and get a few minutes to do the dishes or (gasp) take a long hot bath, but I have found that if I think of my Mother In Law as an adult sized kid, I do the best.

My kids will do some things by themselves, but it is MUCH more fun if I participate.

Tried And True Alzheimers Activities

So many of the lists about Alzheimers or Dementia activities look like someone took a list of baby games and put them online. Well, my Mom is not a child and she doesn't want to do kid things, she wants to do adult tasks.

Buying her a 6 piece puzzle of fire trucks will not work! Imagine if you had to sit around all day with no mental stimulation… you would go a little stir crazy too.

These activities are all ones that we do with Mom on the regular and that keep her amused for much of the day!

Where Does Your Loved One Live?

Mom is in middle stages of dementia, with a bunch of memory loss, but still able to do limited activities.

Some of these will be good for loved ones being cared for at home like Mom is, some will work for a dementia patient staying at assisted living or even in memory care.

The key is to find at least a few meaningful activities that YOUR loved one Alzheimer's disease or dementia likes doing!

Additional Resource: 13 Tips For When You Move Your Dementia Mom In With You

13 Enjoyable Activities For Dementia and Alzheimers

1. Coloring

Mom LOVES coloring! She will spend hours coloring on a new project and then proudly show us her work. (I do the same thing with my magazine collages, showing her my latest work, so this is something that we both can share!)

13 Fun Activities For Alzheimer or Dementia Patients (2)

Some things that we found make coloring more enjoyable:

(Video) Montessori for Dementia at Clark Retirement Community

Getting smaller pieces to color… instead of getting a huge, letter sized picture, we get smaller pages that are easy to start and finish.

Having a lap desk or easel to color on. Sometimes Mom wants to sit in the chair and color, a lap desk with a soft backing is great for that When she sits at her desk, having an easel helps her sit straighter and lets her work longer!

Tip… Mom generally likes using colored pencils the most, she has both a battery powered pencil sharpener AND a battery powered eraser (who even knew something like that existed?!?!)

Tip #2… Lots of tips on this one (Mom spends about 4 hours a day coloring!) Get a solid plank easel. If you get one with holes the smaller coloring pages will fall through.

2. Puzzles

Okay, here is a tricky one! I KNOW the common wisdom is to have your loved one do super simple puzzles that they can succeed at, but my Mom thinks doing kid puzzles is stupid.

So this is how we do puzzles together. We get big puzzles that everyone (okay, me and my daughter) likes doing and then invite Mom to come out and help.

We find pieces that she can put in or have her find all the “blue pieces” or all the edges.

The key to this is doing it with her AND she really is helping us do the puzzle, even if she can't figure out how to put the pieces together anymore.

3. Walking the Dog

If your loved one has a pet dog, she may be much more willing to go for a walk and get a bit of exercise if you take the dog with you!

Our Mom doesn't really want to move around too much anymore, but if you tell her that Maxie wants to go for a walk we can get her almost half way around the block!

Tip… don't let them hold the leash. Our dementia loved one uses a walker so that is not a problem, but being tippy already and adding a pulling dog is a recipe for disaster! Just have a family member hold the leash and the dog can walk ahead!

Related Resource: Should You Get Your Dementia Parent A Cat or a Dog

4. Reading Magazines

Because magazines are not as complex or detailed as books, they are a great time filler. Mom loves to flip through magazines and see what all the celebrities are doing!

Tip… find magazines that match your loved one's interests! My Dad doesn't have dementia, but if he did I know I could get him model railroad magazines to flip through. He LOVES model trains.

(Video) Activities for Those Who Have Dementia Feather Dusters

Your Mom may love knitting or cross stitch, dogs or decorating, there are magazines out there for EVERY kind of interest!

I KNOW, it may seem weird to read a magazine about a hobby or interest that you can no longer do, but even if they can't do it, they remember the liking of that long afterwards!

5. Watching TV With The Family

Yesterday my husband took my youngest daughter to a ball game and I invited Mom out to eat junk food and watch home shows with me… so fun!

I thought she would watch one or two and disappear back into her room like she usually does, but I actually had to kick her out when it was time for bed (kidding!)

Now, it was active watching, talking about what was going on, complaining about the commercials and being aware of what was on the screen instead of staring at my computer, but it was super fun to spend some quality time with Mom doing something we both enjoyed.

6. Getting Outside

We live in Florida so part of the year it is too hot to sit outside (for you it might be winter and snow), but getting Mom to sit outside in the sun is a great activity!

Yes, she thinks she can still get into the pool, but we always just say next time and that makes her happy.

Sunlight is great for anyone, but make sure to put sunscreen on your loved one, even if they are sitting in the shade (and especially if they haven't sat outside for a long time!)

7. Shopping Online

This one is not my favorite (so many Amazon boxes), but it is a favorite of my Mother In Law.

She cruises Macy's on her iPad and that makes up for the fact that she can no longer go to the store and dink around.

If your loved one is on a fixed income, for sure skip this one, but if they have a wee bit of disposable income, shopping might be a fun way to pass a couple of hours.

Tip… generally Mom can't figure out how to put her credit cards into the sites. If your loved one is spending too much, call and say her card is lost. They will issue a new number and the one that is stored on her computer will no longer work.

8. Decorating

Mom loves decorating her room! She gets different flowers for different seasons and even goes with me to Michaels from time to time to pick out new ones.

13 Fun Activities For Alzheimer or Dementia Patients (3)

Whether your loved one is in a nursing home or living with you, you can take some time to tart up her room with the most recent season.

(Video) Leaf Bowl Craft: Activities for Dementia Patients

Funny thing… a gal in an Alheimers Facebook group just said her Mom had her house decked out for Christmas (in September!) My Mom keeps saying Fall is almost over. Maybe because Christmas is such a fun time they like to get there sooner!

No judging on this one… let them decorate for whatever season is in their world right now!

9. Watching Birds

This one is a super good one! Mom got a bird feeder for outside her window and she spends hours watching the birds (and squirrels) every day.

She reports who has come to her feeder each day and we all enjoy the birds.

13 Fun Activities For Alzheimer or Dementia Patients (4)

Tip… know that you will be the one to fill the bird feeder. If you are already stressed out, this could be the straw that breaks the camel's back, but I just think of how much time she spends and the couple of minutes to fill it is totally worth it!

10. Reading Books Online

There is a free app called Hoopla that let's you read library books for free on your iPad.

All you need to do is put in your library card number and you get access to all the ebooks your local library has available (yep, even the brand new titles that just came out!)

Tip… you can get audiobooks for free too! Our Mom doesn't like to listen to books, but if your loved one has poor eyesight this could be a lifesaver!

11. Doing Their Old Occupation

I went to a symposium on Dementia and one of the speakers told us how they had set up an “office” at the adult memory care center so the patient could go to “work”. What a great idea!

Come tax time, I have my Mom check over my tax documents before I take them into the accountant (she was a bookkeeper her whole life).

Being able to do something well is fun for anyone and since they live in the past sometimes their work is easier to do than all the “fun” activities we can come up with! Their long term memories kick in and they feel confident again.

12. Ironing or Washing Clothes

I know, all the suggested activities include folding towels, but my Mom is still able to do all her laundry so we let her (with some help carrying it back and forth).

She is super fussy about wrinkles (I couldn't care less) so we set up a little ironing area in her room so she can get rid of wrinkles to her heart's content!

13 Fun Activities For Alzheimer or Dementia Patients (5)

Sometimes this is more aspirational than actual (she only irons about twice a month), but she likes being able to make her clothes look fancy.

(Video) Dementia-friendly activities and gifts for Alzheimer's patients (available in Canada)

Tip… make sure to get an iron that automatically turns off!

13. Helping You

This is my favorite one! Everyone likes to be needed and Mom loves when she can actually help me.

I KNOW, you might not be a blogger so taking pictures isn't it, but maybe you are a baker and your Mom can help you cook. Or your Dad can help you fix something that is broken.

There is nothing better than actually feeling needed and our loved ones have so much they can still help with if we take the time to figure it out (and be super patient with them!)

Activities For Dementia Patients Wrapup

Okay, there are some of the stimulating activities that we do with Mom! Like I said, some of them require participation and some she does on her own.

The thing is, they go way beyond just having her listen to music or sorting coins (which is GREAT for persons with dementia that are much more advanced).

I KNOW, sometimes it can be frustrating to deal with finding things for older adults to do! But finding these kinds of activities for people with dementia or Alzheimers can seriously increase their (and your) quality of life!

Active Time20 minutes

Total Time20 minutes

DifficultyMedium

Estimated Cost$20

Instructions

  1. Coloring
  2. Puzzles (sorting pieces & finding edges)
  3. Walking the dog
  4. Reading magazines
  5. Watching TV with the family
  6. Getting outside
  7. Shopping online
  8. Decorating
  9. Watching birds
  10. Reading books online (Hoopla App)
  11. Doing their old occupation
  12. Ironing or washing clothes
  13. Helping you!
(Video) MEMORY TEST BRAIN - Alzheimer´s Doctor practice | WIKIFUN

Notes

There is nothing better than actually feeling needed and our loved ones
have so much they can still help with if we take the time to figure it
out (and be super patient with them!)

13 Fun Activities For Alzheimer or Dementia Patients (6)

FAQs

What activities do dementia patients like to do? ›

Reminiscing activities for dementia patients at home
  • Look through photo albums. Photo albums with pictures from your loved one's childhood or young adulthood can bring back favorite memories. ...
  • Watch old movies and TV shows. ...
  • Listen to music and sing. ...
  • Explore history through catalogs and magazines.
28 May 2020

What are the activities to engage patients with Alzheimers? ›

Puzzles, word games, picture books, arts and crafts, music, dancing, gardening, walking, and folding clothes are just some of the many activities that one with Alzheimer's or dementia can participate. Caregivers enjoy finding a new activity to engage their loved one.

What daily activities can a person with dementia do? ›

Daily plan example (for early- to middle-stages of the disease)
  • Wash, brush teeth, get dressed.
  • Prepare and eat breakfast.
  • Have a conversation over coffee.
  • Discuss the newspaper, try a craft project, reminisce about old photos.
  • Take a break, have some quiet time.
  • Do some chores together.
  • Take a walk, play an active game.

What makes Alzheimer's patients happy? ›

"Frequent visits and social interactions, exercise, music, dance, jokes, and serving patients their favorite foods are all simple things that can have a lasting emotional impact on a patient's quality of life and subjective well-being."

What games are good for Alzheimer patients? ›

Jigsaw puzzles, dominos, playing cards, dice, and word puzzles are simple games that can be easily adapted as Alzheimer's recreational activities for the person in your care.

How do you keep a dementia person busy? ›

Some activities have proven to be particularly helpful for those with dementia, such as games, exercise and outdoor activities, and music and art, as well as maintaining day-to-day routines.

What puzzles are good for dementia patients? ›

For those who are in the middle stages of dementia or any form of memory loss may benefit from a 36-piece puzzle or a 60-piece puzzle, while those in more advanced stages or those with limited hand coordination may benefit from a simple wooden puzzle or a sound puzzle that make sounds for additional cognitive ...

How do you distract dementia patients? ›

Family caregivers need to develop distraction techniques like those mentioned below, which can calm situations and divert their elderly loved one's attention.
  1. Play Music. ...
  2. Try Aromatherapy. ...
  3. Start a New Activity. ...
  4. Use Reassurance. ...
  5. Encourage Doing Household Chores.
16 Aug 2019

How do you cheer up someone with Alzheimer's? ›

Better Daily Life for a Loved One With Alzheimer's
  1. Keep a Routine.
  2. Limit Excess Sound.
  3. Be Patient.
  4. Help Them Connect.
  5. Give Them Choices.
  6. Let Them Help.
11 Jan 2022

What should you not do with dementia? ›

I'm going to discuss five of the most basic ones here: 1) Don't tell them they are wrong about something, 2) Don't argue with them, 3) Don't ask if they remember something, 4) Don't remind them that their spouse, parent or other loved one is dead, and 5) Don't bring up topics that may upset them.

What is the best exercise for dementia? ›

Types of exercise for people with dementia
  • Gardening. Gardening is a physical activity that provides an opportunity to get outdoors and is enjoyed by many people. ...
  • Indoor bowls/skittles. ...
  • Dance. ...
  • Seated exercises. ...
  • Swimming. ...
  • Tai chi/qigong. ...
  • Walking.

What is a fidget blanket? ›

A fidget blanket is a lap-size quilt that provides sensory and tactile stimulation for the restless hands of someone with Alzheimer's or other forms of dementia, such as ADD, or an autism spectrum disability. They are perfect for little kids, olders or anyone who gets a settled feeling by keeping their hands busy.

Why is ice cream good for dementia? ›

Ice cream has the power to immediately elicit soothing feelings at the very first taste of a single spoon-full. It erases all the negative feel- ings related to the frustration and continues to stimulate pleasure receptors in the brain with every new scoop. And dementia (here is the best part!)

How do you make someone with dementia feel loved? ›

Have a family sing-song, enjoy a show together, or ask them to play for you to listen. Even when they are no longer able to perform they may still get great joy from listening to music or watching others. People with dementia repeat themselves. Telling and retelling the same story is part of the condition.

What are 3 types of behavioral triggers Alzheimer's? ›

Generally, people with dementia become agitated due to three potential trigger categories: Medical, physiological and/or environmental.

What types of games help improve memory? ›

Here are the top games you can play to improve your memory.
  • Crossword puzzles. Crosswords are one of the most classic brain training games. ...
  • Chess. ...
  • Jigsaw puzzles. ...
  • Rebus puzzles. ...
  • Sudoku. ...
  • Concentration. ...
  • Games that require multi-tasking.

What type of games help your brain? ›

Jigsaw puzzles, crosswords, chess and other problem-solving and memory games that stimulate your brain aren't just fun—they may produce lasting benefits. A 2014 study found brain exercises helped older adults maintain reasoning skills and speed of cognition 10 years after the research period came to an end.

What types of games provide the best fun and mental stimulation for clients with dementia? ›

So, here are some of the games that may support a wide variety of cognitive skills, especially for people with dementia.
  • Word puzzles. Word puzzles are a genre of games that focus specifically on language. ...
  • Jigsaw puzzles. ...
  • Dice games. ...
  • Card games. ...
  • Board games. ...
  • Video games.
30 Aug 2022

Should dementia patients watch TV? ›

For men and women with Alzheimer's disease or other forms of dementia, it can be especially beneficial. Watching movies and TV shows can help keep their brain active, which can stimulate positive memories, improve mood, and even increase socialization.

How do you keep a dementia patient awake during the day? ›

Encourage physical activity during the day.

Help your loved one with dementia get some exercise each day. For example, you make take a walk together each morning. It's best to schedule physical activity early in the day, because being excessively tired in the evening may increase agitation.

Do people with dementia get bored? ›

However, a person in the advanced stages of dementia can still experience emotions such as loneliness, boredom or frustration. A person might no longer be able to move independently or hold a conversation.

Are word searches good for dementia patients? ›

While word searches may not seem like the most stimulating activities, they can do some good for aging brains. Because the process for solving a word search is to look at the “clue” of a few letters to find a word, this activity can help seniors sharpen their reasoning skills.

Is Bingo good for dementia patients? ›

Bingo can even be adapted for seniors with dementia or Alzheimer's Disease. It can help to improve cognition and can help stimulate memory and thought processes for patients in varying stages of memory loss.

Do people with dementia enjoy puzzles? ›

In any stage of Dementia or Alzheimer's, puzzles are said to ease some of the symptoms and provide stimulating comfort to the patients, as well as provide a sense of control. Puzzles, especially custom photo puzzles, can reawaken memories in patients and improve mental speed and thought processes.

Does sugar make dementia worse? ›

'Too much sugar is linked to type 2 diabetes and our previous research has identified type 2 diabetes as a risk factor for dementia. This study backs up this evidence, suggesting that excess sugar may increase our risk of Alzheimer's disease, and all types of sugar – from fruit juice to lemonade – have the same impact.

What can you give a dementia patient to calm them down? ›

Use calming phrases such as: "You're safe here;" "I'm sorry that you are upset;" and "I will stay until you feel better." Let the person know you are there. Involve the person in activities. Try using art, music or other activities to help engage the person and divert attention away from the anxiety.

What triggers people with dementia? ›

Dementia is a result of physical changes in the brain, and these can affect the person's memory, mood and behaviour. Sometimes, behaviour may be related to these changes, but at other times, the behaviour may be triggered by changes in the person's environment, health or medication.

How do you calm a dementia patient at night? ›

Help the person relax by reading out loud or playing soothing music. A comfortable bedroom temperature can help the person with dementia sleep well. Manage medications. Some antidepressant medications, such as bupropion and venlafaxine, can lead to insomnia.

What stage of dementia is forgetting family members? ›

Stage 6. In stage 6 of dementia, a person may start forgetting the names of close loved ones and have little memory of recent events. Communication is severely disabled and delusions, compulsions, anxiety, and agitation may occur.

What does the Bible say about dementia? ›

Scripture assures us that nothing can separate us from the love of God, not even a dementia that may strip a person of her awareness of God's presence (Romans 8:38-29).

What causes dementia patients to suddenly get worse? ›

other long-term health problems – dementia tends to progress more quickly if the person is living with other conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes or high blood pressure, particularly if these are not well-managed.

Why do Alzheimer's patients stop bathing? ›

Bathing can be a challenge because people living with Alzheimer's may be uncomfortable receiving assistance with such an intimate activity. They may also have depth perception problems that make it scary to step into water. They may not perceive a need to bathe or may find it a cold, uncomfortable experience.

How do you make exercise fun for older adults? ›

Exercise actually comes in many forms, including activities that feel more like fun than hard work:
  1. Dance. Sign up for a dance class with your spouse or a friend or carve out some dance time at home.
  2. Go bowling. ...
  3. Rediscover a favorite sport. ...
  4. Enjoy the great outdoors. ...
  5. Get in the swim.

How do you slow down dementia and Alzheimer's? ›

How to reduce your risk of Alzheimer's and other dementias
  1. Physical activity.
  2. Eating healthily.
  3. Don't smoke.
  4. Drink less alcohol.
  5. Stay mentally and socially active.
  6. Take control of your health.

Why activities are important for dementia? ›

Overall meaningful activity provides the person living with dementia: A sense of purpose and routine. Acknowledges and uses the skills and life experiences of the person with dementia. Emotionally nurturing experiences which increase self-esteem and help the person to feel valued.

What are dementia blankets? ›

Weighted blankets for dementia promote calm

Alzheimer's and dementia often cause older adults to feel agitated, anxious, or have disturbed sleep. A weighted blanket or lap pad is a simple, non-drug option that can be used day or night. They promote deep sleep, reduce anxiety, calm nerves, and provide comfort.

What it means when a person with dementia says I want to go home? ›

Often when a person with dementia asks to go home it refers to the sense of home rather than home itself. 'Home' may represent memories of a time or place that was comfortable and secure and where they felt relaxed and happier. It could also be an indefinable place that may not physically exist.

How do you keep dementia patients busy? ›

If your older adult has any unsafe tendencies, be sure to avoid anything that could be dangerous for them.
  1. 6 ways to help seniors with dementia keep hands busy. Fidget blankets. ...
  2. Fidget blankets. ...
  3. Sensory toys. ...
  4. Help with household chores. ...
  5. Simple knitting or crochet. ...
  6. DIY fidget box. ...
  7. Keep familiar items at hand.

What should people with dementia not do? ›

I'm going to discuss five of the most basic ones here: 1) Don't tell them they are wrong about something, 2) Don't argue with them, 3) Don't ask if they remember something, 4) Don't remind them that their spouse, parent or other loved one is dead, and 5) Don't bring up topics that may upset them.

Why are activities important for dementia patients? ›

Overall meaningful activity provides the person living with dementia: A sense of purpose and routine. Acknowledges and uses the skills and life experiences of the person with dementia. Emotionally nurturing experiences which increase self-esteem and help the person to feel valued.

Should dementia patients watch TV? ›

For men and women with Alzheimer's disease or other forms of dementia, it can be especially beneficial. Watching movies and TV shows can help keep their brain active, which can stimulate positive memories, improve mood, and even increase socialization.

What puzzles are good for dementia patients? ›

For those who are in the middle stages of dementia or any form of memory loss may benefit from a 36-piece puzzle or a 60-piece puzzle, while those in more advanced stages or those with limited hand coordination may benefit from a simple wooden puzzle or a sound puzzle that make sounds for additional cognitive ...

How do you distract someone with dementia? ›

Family caregivers need to develop distraction techniques like those mentioned below, which can calm situations and divert their elderly loved one's attention.
  1. Play Music. ...
  2. Try Aromatherapy. ...
  3. Start a New Activity. ...
  4. Use Reassurance. ...
  5. Encourage Doing Household Chores.
16 Aug 2019

What is a fidget blanket? ›

A fidget blanket is a lap-size quilt that provides sensory and tactile stimulation for the restless hands of someone with Alzheimer's or other forms of dementia, such as ADD, or an autism spectrum disability. They are perfect for little kids, olders or anyone who gets a settled feeling by keeping their hands busy.

What is the best exercise for dementia? ›

Types of exercise for people with dementia
  • Gardening. Gardening is a physical activity that provides an opportunity to get outdoors and is enjoyed by many people. ...
  • Indoor bowls/skittles. ...
  • Dance. ...
  • Seated exercises. ...
  • Swimming. ...
  • Tai chi/qigong. ...
  • Walking.

What does the Bible say about dementia? ›

Scripture assures us that nothing can separate us from the love of God, not even a dementia that may strip a person of her awareness of God's presence (Romans 8:38-29).

How do you calm an agitated dementia patient? ›

Here are some ways you can cope with agitation or aggression:
  1. Reassure the person. ...
  2. Allow the person to keep as much control in his or her life as possible.
  3. Try to keep a routine, such as bathing, dressing, and eating at the same time each day.
  4. Build quiet times into the day, along with activities.

What are meaningful activities? ›

Meaningful activities are those that include physical, social and leisure aspects and are tailored to the individual's needs and preferences. They also have a form of interaction and engagement, as opposed to simply turning on a movie.

What counts as an activity? ›

From pushing a lawn mower, to taking a dance class, to biking to the store – all types of activities count. As long as you're doing them at a moderate or vigorous intensity for at least 10 minutes at a time.

What do dementia patients like to watch? ›

Reality TV shows are also easy to follow for seniors with Alzheimer's or dementia. Shows such as American Idol, Dancing With the Stars and American Pickers don't have a running plot, making them easy forms of entertainment for everyone. Ambient videos may also interest patients with Alzheimer's.

Do dementia patients get bored? ›

However, a person in the advanced stages of dementia can still experience emotions such as loneliness, boredom or frustration. A person might no longer be able to move independently or hold a conversation.

Do you tell dementia patients the truth? ›

So when we hear about using therapeutic fibbing to lie to someone with dementia, it might seem cruel and wrong at first. But always sticking to the truth, especially about an emotional subject or something trivial, is more likely to cause your older adult pain, confusion, and distress.

Videos

1. Meaningful Activities in the Residential Care Setting
(Gateway Geriatric Education Center)
2. MCI, Alzheimer's and Dementia. What's the Difference? – HOP ML Podcast
(Better Health While Aging)
3. Experience 12 Minutes In Alzheimer's Dementia
(Alzheimer's Weekly)
4. Holiday Gift Ideas for Alzheimer's Dementia Sufferers & Caregivers
(Alzheimer's Proof)
5. Therapeutic Music Activity for Alzheimer's and Dementia
(LindiMoo Moosic)
6. Brain & Memory Exercises for Alzheimer's, Cognitive Impairment, Dementia
(Alzheimer's Proof)
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