The Best Activities for People with Dementia

If you have received a dementia diagnosis or are supporting a loved one who has, then there are lots of activities for people with dementia that you may be interested in. Encouraging fulfilling and active lives, these activities cover physical, mental, social and creative outlets. As Dementia UK states, “what’s good for the heart is good for the brain” when it comes to dementia, and employing a range of activities that can be tailored to abilities and requirements is a great way to achieve a sense of achievement and purpose.

From activities you can do at home to exercises that take you out of the house, here are some of the best activities for people with dementia.

Games and Puzzles

When considering some of the best activities for people with dementia, games are certainly atop the list. Able to be tailored to likes, dislikes and needs, games are a great way to inject some fun into daily activities whilst also flexing cognitive abilities and triggering conversation. When it comes to choosing a game, simple puzzles, favourite board games and cards can be wonderful options, as well as things like jigsaw puzzles, crosswords and building blocks.

Any games that exercise your mind and coordination are good for you; however, if you find them getting a little difficult, you can find games that are specifically adapted for people with dementia. These include jigsaws with larger puzzle pieces and touchscreen apps. Upon completing games and puzzles, a great sense of achievement can be experienced, boosting a sense of enjoyment, fulfilment and pride.

Arts and Crafts

Colouring and crafts provide highly immersive activities for people with dementia. Depending on what you enjoy and the stage of dementia, therapeutic crafts such as drawing, painting and colouring are a great way to channel creativity, express feelings and emotions, and simply enjoy the present moment.

Adult colouring books are widely available, as well as options like painting with water books or painting objects such as stones. Combining creativity and sensory exploration, you can also consider making collages with different bits of fabric or paper, or using modelling clay or playdough to create something unique. For further ideas, explore flower arranging with fake or fresh flowers, jewellery making, memory boxes and scrapbooks.

Hobbies and Pastimes

When it comes to the best activities for people with dementia, continuing favourite hobbies and pastimes has a lot of benefits. Not only can it provide a channel for ingrained abilities that require little cognitive recall, but it can also help to enhance a sense of belonging, ease and tranquillity. Encouraging ownership of skills and interests can also boost self-confidence.

Take time to engage cherished hobbies, be that knitting, dancing, gardening or so on and promote independence and self-esteem. If possible, another wonderful extension of this is to provide a platform through which people with dementia can show or talk to others about interests, for example showing someone else how to dance or talking about favourite topics.

Exercise and Nature

As dementia develops, it’s important to try and maintain gentle levels of exercise that match needs and abilities. To provide relief and ease both the mind and the muscles, low intensity exercises such as chair yoga and stretching can help support brain health, release feel-good endorphins, improve sleep and enhance overall well-being.

One of the best activities for people with dementia and one of the best all-rounder exercises is walking. Free and adaptable, going for walks can aid muscle strength and cognitive function. It also provides a wonderful window into nature, offering lovely exposure to naturally soothing sunshine, bird song and fresh air. That said, if exercise feels like too much, even just going outside to watch a favourite group activity or sport can provide great stimulation.

Music and Senses

The symptoms of dementia vary from person to person and depend on which part of the brain has been affected. That said, it’s often the case that as a person’s dementia progresses, it can become harder to join in with certain activities or pastimes. If this becomes the case, it’s very important to adapt and try a different approach and ways to provide engaging stimulation.

At Wisteria Care Home, we find some of the best activities for people with dementia focus on basic senses, such as touch and sound. Music, for example, has a powerful effect, and can reach deeper layers of the heart and mind. Playing familiar songs and encouraging singing can provide soul-stirring moments and help those with dementia to stay in the present.

Other therapeutic sensory activities can include nature sounds from birds, the sea or people laughing. Hand massages, foot spas or hair brushing can be especially calming, while exploring different textures, favourite smells, light patterns and so on are particularly suited to those with advanced dementia. If it is appropriate, then moments with pets or therapy dogs can also offer much-needed comfort and encourage more lucid moments.

Household Tasks and Gardening

If you are seeking different activities for people with dementia, then some of the best can be found as part of daily life. If it’s of interest, then household tasks around the house can provide something familiar to do and lend a sense of purpose, including everything from folding towels to washing up. Even if these tasks aren’t completed ‘properly’ or finished, these activities for people with dementia can provide an important outlet.

Similarly, gardening proposes another great activity, encouraging time spent outside and time in nature. Whether it be weeding, watering plants, sowing seeds or simply admiring the latest blooms, gardening has the ability to soothe and captivate.

Wisteria Care Home

At Wisteria House in Plymstock, we nurture a safe, comfortable home for those living with dementia. Rated CQC Outstanding, we specialise in providing the highest quality care and pride ourselves on creating life-enriching experiences and a comfortable, welcoming environment for those in need.

If you would like to find out more, please do get in touch.