For people living with dementia a lack of stimulation and boredom can be both frustrating and disheartening. It’s vital to promote activities that engage and bring pleasure to anyone living with dementia. Stimulating activities can help lessen anxiety and irritability and may even prevent some from developing depression, which is all too common. Any activity should aim to stir memories and enable one to reminisce, it should aim to make someone feel more engaged with life and promote emotional connections with others.

Here are some activities that you can easily undertake with someone with dementia

Board games and puzzles

Not only are they familiar and relatively easy to follow, but they can often help spark memories and conversation

Why not try the following:

  • Jigsaw puzzles
  • Dominoes
  • Old board games, such as snakes and ladders
  • Untying knots – this gets hands working and encourages focus

Reminisce about life

Long-term memory often remains stronger for longer in people living with dementia. You might want to try the following:

  • Talk to them about their childhood, and family
  • Conduct an interview with them, you may even want to video it as a permanent record
  • Look through old photos and create a photo album
  • Ask about their favourite memories around a particular topic, such as their favourite holiday, the place they grew up in or their oldest friend

Arts & Crafts

Encouraging someone with dementia to express themselves artistically can be enormously beneficial.  Arts and crafts are a wonderful way of allowing someone to  express themselves whilst also exploring their creative side. Even for those that were not previously artistic there is opportunity to provide sensory stimulation when doing arts and crafts.

Activities to consider include:

  • Painting
  • Knitting
  • Colouring-in
  • Collages using pictures cut out of newspapers and magazines
  • Threading pasta onto brightly coloured pieces of wool or thread

Animal Therapy

Interaction with animals has been shown to relieve stress and symptoms of depression and anxiety whilst also providing a sensory experience. This is particularly true of those with dementia. Very often someone with dementia has had to give up a loved pet due to their condition so any chance there is for them to engage with animals can only be of benefit.

  • Invite a friend or family member over who has a well-behaved pet
  • Visit a local animal shelter or a local farm to see the small animals
  • Consider purchasing a companion pet animal, these stuffed animals can simulate the companionship of having a pet without the upkeep of the real thing.

Get outside an explore nature

Exploring the outdoors  is the perfect way to get some fresh air and explore new things. There are many stimulating activities that you might wish to undertake.

  • Visit a local park or garden
  • Go bird watching at the local park or nature reserve
  • Feed birds at the pond
  • As the weather can often curtail plans to get outside why not watch a animal documentary – television can still provide some great opportunities to explore nature
  • Some simple gardening can also be really pleasurable

Music therapy

Music has been shown to be a powerful way of both providing comfort and stimulating memory in those with dementia. Remembering music from ones youth can enable someone to reconnect with their past in a unique way.

Why not try the following

  • Play and encourage sing alongs to a favourite singer or band.
  • Create a playlist of favourite artists and genres and play them regularly
  • Show them youtube videos of their favourite singers and bands

Whatever activity you choose to do with someone with dementia try and keep in mine that what’s important is to focus on the process of the activity, not the results – what matters most is that those participating enjoy themselves and in someway feel useful.