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10 Engaging Activities for Seniors with Dementia

senior woman puts blocks of wood together

While the abilities of those with dementia vary, they can still engage in a wide variety of meaningful activities that boost their self-confidence, stimulate their senses, bring them joy and help them feel a sense of purpose.

Instead of letting your loved one give up on their favorite hobbies and interests, change them to match their capabilities. From trips to the aquarium to helping out in the kitchen, try these 10 activities for seniors with dementia; each can strengthen your bond and help them enjoy  a higher quality of life.


1. Exercising

Young or old, many people roll their eyes at the thought of exercising, but there are physical activities for seniors with dementia that make movement fun. For instance, you can kick a colorful beach ball back and forth or dance to your loved one’s favorite music. Doctors recommend 30 minutes of physical activity a day, but you can break it up into two 15-minute fun-filled workouts.

2. Trips to the aquarium

Try building a saltwater tank or taking your loved one on regular trips to a local aquarium. The rhythmic hum of an aquarium and gliding fish encourage your loved one to engage in conversation, brighten their mood, calm their nerves and decrease aggression.

3. Puzzles

Puzzles offer those with dementia comfortable stimulation and a sense of control. People in the early or middle stages of dementia can often work  36-piece to 60-piece puzzles, while those with late-stage dementia can benefit from assembling small wooden puzzles. Many seniors with dementia delight in custom photo puzzles of their loved ones.

4. Gardening

Gardening provides a sensory experience that stimulates smell, touch and sound. This experience can boost your loved one’s mood, bring back happy memories and help them feel more connected with nature. As an added benefit, gardening also helps reduce stress levels in family caregivers.

5. Cooking

While your loved one may not have the same cooking skills they once did, there are still plenty of kitchen activities for seniors with dementia. You can have them tear lettuce for a salad or help wash the dishes. Your loved one will feel a sense of purpose completing a task required to enjoy mealtime, and you’ll have less work to do in the kitchen.

6. Trading hand massages

It doesn’t matter who you are … there’s nothing more comforting than the warm touch of someone you love. Trade hand massages while you’re watching your loved one’s favorite show, waiting for the doctor, or relaxing on your front porch. You can make the experience even better by using lotions with scents that stimulate memories. Try rose-scented in the summer and sugar cookie-scented lotion during the holidays.

7. Knitting or crocheting

Most seniors with dementia still have the drive to return to their old hobbies; they just need a little help getting there. If your loved one likes to knit or crochet, put a ball of chunky yarn in their hands. They may just enjoy the texture or unraveling the ball, or they might even be able to perform a small amount of knitting or crocheting, even if they are in the late stages of dementia.

8. Celebrating the holidays

Holiday activities for seniors with dementia are a splendid way to help young children interact with your loved one. Try coloring eggs, decorating a tree, creating holiday cards or making ornaments. Get your loved one involved with holiday dinners by having them set the table or knead dough for bread.

9. Browsing a magazine or catalog

Head to the thrift store or look online for original copies or reprints of magazines your loved one enjoyed in their younger years. They’ll enjoy feeling the paper between their fingers as they turn the pages and reminisce about fashion trends of years past. You can also look for cookbooks for seniors who spent a lot of time in the kitchen, or a book of editorial cartoons from the newspapers they used to read.

10. Relaxing

Many precious memories are made in the calmest and quietest moments. Finding a comfortable seat outside, sipping lemonade or hot chocolate, and just enjoying each other’s company is a wonderful way to bond and relax. Fall is a lovely time to sit close and curl up under a soft blanket, while warm summer mornings can be spent basking in the sun.


Find Compassionate Care that Families Trust at Freedom Village at Brandywine

Memory care at our senior living community in Coatesville, PA, is focused on life-affirming activities and personalized care that matches your loved one’s unique needs, interests and preferences. To learn more about our nationally recognized memory care program at Freedom Village at Brandywine, contact our senior living representatives online, and we’ll be happy to answer your questions or schedule a tour!