10 Activities for Seniors With Dementia

Mar 13, 2024 | Senior Living, Health & Wellness

Dementia doesn’t have to steal the spotlight on joy and purpose. While the activities your loved one used to enjoy might look a little different now, it doesn’t mean they have to be sidelined.

Instead, reimagine their favorite pastimes to fit their current abilities. From viewing underwater worlds at the aquarium to helping in the kitchen, here are ten activities for seniors with dementia designed to spark engagement, boost confidence, and weave even stronger bonds between you and your loved one.

1. Exercising

It’s ideal for seniors with dementia to get 30 minutes of physical activity a day. Break it up into two 15-minute fun-filled workouts to get your loved one’s body moving with activities that feel more like play.

Toss a bright beach ball back and forth, dance together to the beat of their favorite tunes, or try seated exercises, like chair yoga. Going for walks, either indoors or outdoors, is a simple yet effective form of exercise; just be sure to choose safe and familiar environments.

2. Putting Together Puzzles

Puzzles offer a world of engagement and comfort for people with dementia, regardless of the stage of dementia. Individuals with early- and middle-stage dementia can often find joy and mental stimulation in puzzles ranging from 36 to 60 pieces.

Smaller, simpler wooden puzzles offer a sense of accomplishment and tactile enjoyment for those in the late stages of dementia. Many people find personalized photo puzzles featuring their loved ones particularly engaging, sparking memories and fostering connection.

senior women knitting3. Knitting

Whether your loved one once wove intricate patterns or enjoyed the rhythmic comfort of knitting, a gentle reintroduction with chunky yarn can bring unexpected joy.

The simple act of holding the yarn, feeling its texture, and unraveling its loops can provide a sense of comfort and spark memories.

4. Gardening

The sights, sounds, and smells of a garden can trigger happy memories, spark conversation, and boost overall mood. Engaging with nature has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety, benefiting both the individual with dementia and their family caregivers.

Whether it’s tending a small potted herb garden on a windowsill, pulling out weeds, or exploring a vibrant community garden, the possibilities are endless.

5. Cooking

Mealtimes aren’t just about food; they’re about connection and shared experiences. And while your loved one with dementia might not have the same culinary skills they once had, there’s still plenty of room for them to shine in the kitchen.

Simple tasks like tearing lettuce for a salad or helping wash dishes can bring a sense of purpose and accomplishment. Using a rocker knife empowers many individuals with dementia to participate in meal preparation and cooking activities with minimal assistance.

6. Trading Hand Massages

There’s something truly special about the touch of a loved one. It offers comfort, connection, and a feeling of being cared for. Trade hand massages while you’re watching TV, waiting for an appointment or relaxing outside.

Try using scents that evoke cherished memories. The smell of rose-scented lotion in the summer might bring back memories of blooming gardens, while the sweet aroma of sugar cookie lotion during the holidays can spark festive cheer.

7. Browsing Catalogs and Cookbooks

Browsing magazines, catalogs or cookbooks from yesteryear can spark conversations, evoke memories, and ignite a journey down memory lane.

They’ll find pleasure in the feeling of paper beneath their fingertips while flipping through the pages and recalling past recipes and fashion trends. Visit a second-hand store, or search the internet for authentic editions or reproductions.

8. Visiting the Aquarium

Watching the rhythmic movements of the fish and the mesmerizing light on the water in an aquarium can be incredibly calming and engaging.

Studies have even shown that interacting with an aquarium can help lessen anxiety, brighten moods, and even decrease aggression in individuals with dementia.

9. Celebrating the Holidays

Holiday activities for seniors with dementia offer abundant opportunities for connection and joy. From crafting personalized holiday cards to kneading dough for warm bread, simple tasks become meaningful moments.

Holidays are also a wonderful time for storytelling. Children can ask questions, listen attentively, and contribute their own stories, fostering intergenerational connections, all while coloring Easter eggs, decorating a tree, or frosting cookies.

senior woman smiling while outside on the patio with her adult daughter

10. Relaxing

Sometimes, the most meaningful moments are the quietest ones. Whether enjoying cozy moments snuggled under a soft blanket during cooler mornings or basking in the sunshine together, finding a quiet space to simply be present can be a gift for you both.

Discover Meaningful Memory Support

The Village at Gainesville goes beyond the ordinary, celebrating each resident’s unique journey with dementia. Whether it’s personalized activities, calming nature walks, or simply sharing laughter, we create a haven of joy and connection. Reach out to our team at 352-231-8706 or contact us online to learn more about our memory support services in Gainesville, FL.