11 Activities for Seniors with Alzheimer’s and Dementia

Seniors with dementia tend to withdraw from their loved ones and the things they used to love. But studies show staying engaged in life can help reduce the effects of dementia and improve quality of life.

Here at Bridgeway’s outstanding memory care unit, we know how important it is to keep seniors with dementia active. That’s why we tailor each resident’s daily activity program to their interests and hobbies. It’s just one of the ways we go the extra mile to help our residents feel safe and secure.

Activities help people with Alzheimer’s disease relax.

Helping your aging loved ones stay active with hobbies, interests, and activities can be a source of pleasure for both of you. It’s especially nice when the activity is something your parent enjoyed before their disease. These activities can stimulate your parent’s brain and encourage self-expression.

Many caregivers report their patient’s mood visibly improves after recreation. The calming effects can linger for hours, and even help your loved one sleep better.

When choosing an activity to do with your parent, choose something that held meaning for them in the past. You may need to modify the activity to their current skill level or ability. And keep in mind that as the disease progresses, your loved one’s interest or involvement may decline.

11 Activities for Alzheimer’s or dementia patients:

  1. Play their favorite music and encourage them to sing along. Dance with them, either sitting or standing.
  2. Paint, scrapbook, knit, or do some other craft project. Keep the project simple, and display their work afterward.
  3. Let them help out with household tasks, such sweeping the floor, folding towels, or peeling vegetables. They’ll feel useful, and happy to be needed.
  4. Arrange flowers. Particularly if they enjoy gardening, arranging inexpensive artificial flowers is a great afternoon activity.
  5. Read together. This can be an old favorite book, the daily newspaper, or even books with photos of animals or landscapes.
  6. Look at old photos or make a memory box of all their favorite memories for your parent to sift through on their own.
  7. Work on a 500 or 1,000 piece puzzle together. If they are no longer able to do an advanced jigsaw puzzle, bring some good-quality children’s puzzles. These are usually brightly colored and easy to grasp.
  8. Watch old home videos from when you were a kid or your own children were young.
  9. Play with toys. Playing catch with a soft ball, building a structure with Duplo, or cuddling with a plush teddy bear are great choices for your loved one with dementia.
  10. Get a pack of large-print playing cards. In earlier stages of dementia you can play card games with your parent. Later on, they may still enjoy shuffling the deck or sorting the cards by color or suit.
  11. Play with modeling clay or Play-Doh. People of all ages can relax with clay, so this is a great activity for a multi-generational group.

Remember to focus on the activity itself, not the results. You can always fix up their lopsided stacks of laundry afterward, or feed the flopped cake to the dog. The main thing is your loved one enjoyed the activity and spent some quality time with you.