20 Tips and Ideas to keep dementia patients engaged

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When we are happy and engaged in something we enjoy, we are less likely to feel agitated, anxious, depressed, or angry. Same is the scenario for the seniors living with dementia. 

When an older adult has Alzheimer’s or dementia, everyday activities can be challenging. 

Nevertheless, they need to feel as successful as we all do. 

Therefore, people with dementia can benefit significantly from aged care activities ideas that they like. This assures them to succeed, no matter what their situation is and would ease their everyday living.  

So here, we have compiled a list of 20 simple dementia activities for older adults. All these activities for seniors are free and do not require a lot of skills. The best part is that they are usually free or inexpensive in nature and can be performed individually or through group tasks. 


Meaningful activities for seniors with dementia: 20 activities to do with seniors with dementia  


People with dementia and Alzheimer’s often find it frustrating to live everyday life with no work. Their everyday challenge is to live a normal life, but it is just difficult for them to do so. Such incompetence causes them to get irritated, annoyed, or bored.  

Numerous studies suggest that Dementia and Alzheimer’s patients benefit from engaging in enjoyable activities. 

In addition to keeping them in high spirits and preventing depression, stimulating activities can also ease anxiety and irritation.  

Lack of stimulation can be very frustrating for people with dementia and Alzheimer’s. Providing individuals with engaging and enjoyable activities for dementia patients is crucial. 

Keeping them stimulated can help them stay positive, prevent depression, and reduce anxiety and irritability. 


Here we sub-divide meaningful activities for senior citizens with dementia. 


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Sensory activities for seniors with dementia 


As a result of sensory stimulation, seniors with Alzheimer’s or dementia can interact with their surroundings and remain active.  

Regular sensory activities for dementia patients have been found to help significantly with memory issues when done regularly. It is possible to improve seniors’ daily function and cognitive symptoms by providing diverse ways to communicate and engaging all five senses. 

It is often possible to build activities for people with dementia for their everyday life by engaging in sensory stimulation activities that are linked to previous interests.  

Using sensory stimulation, the five senses (hearing, sight, smell, taste, and touch) can be strategically awakened to evoke pleasant feelings. 


Is sensory stimulation helpful for dementia?


The use of sensory stimulation therapy can keep senior citizens with dementia engaged with their environments.

The senses are stimulated, and memories are recalled when everyday objects are viewed. When seniors’ senses are stimulated, their mood, self-esteem, and well-being improve. The sensory stimulation can be performed as activities for dementia patients at home too.  

In the case of dementia patients who cannot communicate using words, sensory stimulation can assist them in expressing themselves.


Top sensory stimulation suited for dementia patients


People with dementia can benefit from simple sensory stimulation activities using readily available objects.


Participation in games and interests are what matter. Any short activity can help a dementia patient whose attention span is reduced. A few of the activity ideas for seniors with dementia include: 


#1. Get involved in music

You can play music with an object if no musical instrument is available. You can simulate playing the drum by patting or tapping a pillow.  

Playing “drums” along with a song stimulates the senses of hearing and touch as a part of activities for dementia sufferers.  

 Furthermore, following a rhythm enhances memory and focus. 


#2. Painting 


Dementia patients may not be able to create something complex when it comes to painting and art therapy. 

 Although the result is important, the process can just be a part. It is beneficial to use both your vision and touch when mixing colors and practising different strokes. 


#3. Animal Therapy 


Touch, vision, and smell are all triggered when interacting with an animal.  

Incorporating external stimulation into your daily life is as simple as touching fur, and feathers or watching fish move.  

The comfort and warmth of animals are also calming influences. Animal therapy can uncover memories of a beloved pet in individuals with dementia. 


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#4. Smell-based stimulation 


Seniors can be transported to a memorable time or instantly recall specific events in their lives with strong scents.  

Olfactory stimulation can be used to trigger these fond memories. Healing properties can be delivered by aromatherapy using essential oils. 

Calming properties are associated with lavender. Brain stimulation and nerve calming are a few of the benefits of peppermint.  


#5. Tasting activities  


It is possible for seniors to recall a memorable event from their past through the consumption of their favorite foods. 

Seniors who grew up at the seaside will appreciate sharing clam chowder with caregivers and family members. 

Seniors can remember their carefree childhoods with iced tea or their favorite cookies. 


Quick activities to do with seniors with dementia


It can be meaningful and fun to spend time with an Alzheimer’s patient, especially if you follow their lead.  

Is there anything they like to do? What are their capabilities? Find out their interests before you develop any kind of games for the elderly in nursing homes. A few of the tips we share are given below: 


#6. Outdoor activities

You can do something outside. If it is a bright sunny day, you can take up the outdoor task for them and plan a sunny outdoor brunch. Likewise, you can also include activities for seniors with dementia in nursing homes such as: 


  • Planting flowers 
  • Nature walk 
  • Bird watching & feeding 
  • Park visits 
  • Visit beach  
  • Sit inside the park and take their favorite drink 
  • Play mild games 
  • Read books  


#7. Indoor activities


Okay, if it is not a good day but still you want your members to get actively involved and participate in the indoor activities then you can take a few of the indoor activities such as: 


  • Listen to good old music 
  • Share a personal bond of watching a family video  
  • Watch any interesting family bonding movie 
  • Prepare a good afternoon tea 
  • Watch a favorite sport and grab a delightful lunch 
  • Complete any puzzle  
  • Read newspaper or books 
  • Play card games 
  • Talk about their siblings, family, or old friends.  



#8. Kitchen activities


Do not involve anyone in any fiery kitchen work, but soft kitchen work encourages group tasks, therefore as a commencement you can start with, 


  • Baking cookies or bread 
  • Setting a fine table for lunch or dinner 
  • Making a quick dry lunch or snack  
  • Baking desserts  


Group activities for seniors with dementia


There are endless possibilities for keeping things enjoyable when caring for someone with dementia, whether you want to do something fun and stimulating or calm and soothing. When it comes to making things interesting, but still relevant, how do you do that? 


Here are the fun group activities for seniors with dementia, 


#9. Jigsaw puzzle  


It is great to play jigsaws in small groups, especially if the pieces are large and have a decent number of them. There is something very versatile about puzzles.  

When dementia is mild or in an early stage, the activity of working on a 3D puzzle may be very engaging, while as dementia progresses the activity of working on a 24-piece puzzle may be more appropriate. 


#10. Boardgames  


In certain cases, residents with disabilities can still enjoy certain board games. A few of the examples include card games, scrabble, ludo games, or carrom board games.  


#11. Floor games and garden games


Regardless of the weather outside; garden and floor games are great activities for care homes if they have the space. It is a good idea to choose games that your residents can sit and play. 


#12. Group exercise 


The benefits of exercise include improving mood, improving strength, and making dementia patients more satisfied and happier.  

Getting fitness instructors trained to teach classes to those who may be less mobile is possible, but there are plenty of DVDs and equipment available to help older people keep fit. 


#13. Group dance  


Encourage the seniors by picking some dance-friendly music you think they will enjoy and do not worry about knowing the steps. 

The ability to combine movement with music makes it such an excellent exercise for the elderly. It improves balance and cognitive ability and stimulates reminiscence.  


#14. Group yoga  


Yoga strengthens, improves and relaxes the mind of senior people. 

 If a resident is not particularly mobile, yoga poses can be adapted to be performed from the comfort of their chair.  

A professional yoga teacher should lead these sessions. 


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Fun activities for seniors with dementia


Finding activities that appeal to a particular individual might require experimentation or creative thinking. Here are the fun activities you can plan for seniors with dementia: 


#15. Fold towels


It is a great idea to get older adults involved in folding laundry since it keeps them busy, gives them an activity they can succeed at, and helps them feel like they are contributing. 

Keeping them engaged is all that matters. Hand towels are convenient because they can be rolled up easily and are small. 


#16. Build a fabric box filled with fun fabrics 


Anyone who enjoys sewing or fabric crafts will enjoy this activity. 

Fill a box with assorted fabrics. Choose a variety of textures and colors such as lace, felt, silk, velvet, wool, cotton, etc. 


#17. Make your own picture puzzle 


You might want to print a picture of a favorite family member or place that your older adult finds particularly meaningful. Also, you can print out something they like, such as a picture of a car or colorful fruit. 

Making a DIY puzzle from a photo can be done easily by laminating it and cutting it into four puzzle-piece shapes (or more). 


#18. Puzzle cube  


Colorful puzzle cubes are a fun way for older adults to fiddle with objects without feeling pressured.  

Creating assorted color combinations on each face of the cube is the main objective of this game. 


#19. Get knots untied 


At the local hardware store, purchase a medium-thick-length rope. You can untie a few superficial knots with the help of an older adult by loosely tying a few simple knots. 


#20. Take up knitting or crocheting


Give your aging relative a handmade quilt or yarn skein. You may want to let them feel how heavy the quilt is and how scratchy the yarn is.  

Those with severe memory or cognitive impairments may still be able to crochet or knit a little bit.  


Planning activities for dementia patients


There is still a lot to accomplish towards an excellent quality of life for Alzheimer’s and dementia patients.  

Dementia patients are overstimulated and unengaged in life at home, in assisted living, or in nursing homes. 

People with dementia can benefit from many activities that are well planned and provided by professional caregivers.  

People with dementia or Alzheimer’s should be engaged in daily activities to remain physically and cognitively active, particularly if they have dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. 

Resource for activities for seniors with dementia in a nursing home 

Anyone affected by dementia, regardless of age, can benefit from the Dementia Guide. You can learn more about dementia and how to get treatment, support, and services by reading the Dementia Guide. 

Those taking on the role of caregiver could also find the Dementia Guide helpful. It explains how dementia affects the person living with it, what treatments, support, and services they might need, and how they can cope. 


Other resources include; 


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National Dementia Helpline 


Dementia Helpline is a confidential, Australia-wide service that provides information and support to people living with dementia. 


You can get assistance from professionals and they can: 

  • Families and friends of people with dementia 
  • Caregivers of people with dementia 
  • Any individual is concerned about memory loss.  


Alzheimer’s Australia staff are available to answer your questions and provide you with information about their services. 

The National Dementia Helpline is available during business hours at 1800 100 500. 


Cognitive Dementia and Memory Service (CDAMS) 


An assessment with CDAMS may include medical and allied health consultations, as well as a home visit.  

Other specialist assessments may be required (such as a neuropsychological evaluation). During these consultations and recommendations, CDAMS will discuss the outcomes with you and your carer and doctor, if you agree. 


HACC Program supporting dementia 


HACC provides the following services to people with dementia: 

  • Cleanup and other household tasks are part of daily living 
  • respite care 
  • Opportunities for social interaction 
  • Counselling and information. 

HACC services are available through your local council. 

For dementia care service for your senior family members, connect with us!  

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