Autumn has had a very gentle start with such warm and sunny weather, but as the leaves fall from the trees and the temperatures gradually drop, the days will inevitably get shorter and the nights longer.

Here at the Dementia Network, we’ve been trying to think up ways to make the time spent inside a little more fun and engaging, to keep minds and bodies active during the winter period and the longer darker evenings.

  • A great way of improving hand-eye coordination and spatial awareness is playing the cup-stacking game. This simple but engaging game requires very little equipment, just a flat, level surface and a selection of paper cups. It can be played with as many people as you like from 1 to 20 depending on how many cups you have! Each participant starts with three piles of three paper cups. When you’re all ready to start, the game requires you to separate the cups, stack them into pyramids, unstack them and then return them to their starting piles in the fastest time possible.
  • A lovely idea to inspire conversations and prompt memories, especially if caring for a parent or grandparent, is to write the story of their life in a journal. It doesn’t have to be an all singing, all dancing autobiography, but a beautiful keepsake of key memories they are happy to share. Even if they don’t think their life has been particularly interesting, they will always have engaging stories which will make you smile, and be something to treasure in the future. A good place to start is by reflecting on memories and documenting their replies with questions such as “what are your earliest memories growing up” “what was your first job” etc.
  • Exercise doesn’t have to be vigorous to be effective, there are a number of exercise routines that can be done sitting down and it doesn’t have to be boring either! Using just a dining room chair at home, these classes can all be done at home: Forever Active, YouTube, Royal Voluntary Service. There may also be classes local to you that are currently running online sessions so it’s definitely worth investigating.

If the person you care for is unable to do any exercise, try simple games from their childhood like clapping along with a nursery rhyme or doing the actions to ‘The Wheels on the Bus’, which will also stimulate long-forgotten memories.

Or if you’re able to enjoy something a little more energetic, Dance to Health is a dance class with a difference, to help increase your strength and balance. There are three types of classes tailored to suit differing needs, gentle, active and dynamic. Each one is fun, lively and creative. Book your classes here.

  • Always popular, a deck of cards is a brilliant way to while away an hour or two. Try and remember old favourites like Whist, Gin Rummy and Old Maid but if that isn’t possible, there are always simpler games like Snap or Pairs. Board games are often overlooked but chess, scrabble, backgammon or draughts also offer a great way to exercise the mind.
  • If you have any outside space, bird-watching is a simple activity that can be done by anyone. With a little preparation, like setting up a feeding table with bird food, you can sit, observe and identify non-migratory birds such as robins and chaffinches from the comfort and warmth of your home.

We hope you like our ideas, do let us know if you have any other top tips that we can share with others, we love hearing from you.