Activities for People with Dementia: 10 Fun, No Fail Ideas

activities for people with dementia

Seniors with dementia need activities where they’re successful

Everyday activities can become too difficult for older adults with Alzheimer’s or dementia.

But, like all of us, they still have the need to feel successful.

That’s why failure-free activities for people with dementia are so important – they’ll always be successful, no matter what.

Being happily engaged in a satisfying activity reduces agitation, anxiety, depression, and anger. It may even reduce challenging behaviors like sundowning or reduce the need for medication.

To help your older adult feel productive and successful, we’ve got 10 simple activity ideas that have no right or wrong way to do them. Plus, they’re free or very low cost.




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10 fantastic, failure-free activities for people with dementia

Each person is different, so it might take some experimenting or creative thinking to find activities that appeal to them.

Safety note: Avoid sharp objects and only give items that will be safe for your older adult. For example, if they tend to put things in their mouth or tie up body parts, avoid string, small items, or things that will break when bitten.

 

activities for seniors with dementia
1) Fold towels
Asking an older adult to help you fold laundry is a great way to keep them occupied, give them an activity they can feel successful at, and help them feel like they’re contributing to the household.

The goal is just to keep them happily engaged. It’s best to use hand towels because they’re small and easily folded.

No matter how well or poorly the towels are folded, the point is that your older adult feels good about the activity.

 

activities for alzheimer’s
2) Create a memory box
A memory or rummage box can help your older adult feel connected to their past career and previous hobbies.

Get any kind of box and fill it with things they would have used at work, copies of photos and non-important keepsakes, or objects from hobbies.

For example, for a former office worker, create a box that reminds them of their career. Include paper clips, pencils, erasers, paper, letters (junk mail), a calculator, file folders, notepads, etc. in the box.

If the person used to do handy work, put nuts, bolts, pvc pipe pieces and fittings, a piece of wood (no splinters), fine grit sandpaper, and twine in their box.

Someone who enjoyed cooking or baking might enjoy measuring spoons, a whisk, a spatula, and other related items.

This can work for any type of job or hobby, just be creative about finding objects that will be safe to handle.

 

activities for alzheimer’s patients
3) Untie knots
Find our buy a length of medium-thickness rope from the local hardware store. Loosely tie a few simple knots and ask your older adult to help you untie them.

 

activities for seniors
4) Thread pasta with yarn or string
Get some dry pasta with big holes and some thick yarn or regular string. Make a “needle” by taping around the end of the string, making it longer than the piece of pasta.

Have your older adult string the pasta using their “needle” and thread.

 

failure free activities
5) Create a box of fun fabrics
This is fun for everyone, but especially for someone who used to enjoy sewing or fabric crafts.

Get a box and put dozens of pieces of assorted fabrics inside. Try to get different colors and a variety of textures like lace, felt, silk, velvet, wool, cotton, etc.

Your older adult can enjoy touching, folding, and sorting the fabrics.




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activities to keep alzheimer's patients busy
6) Make a DIY picture puzzle
Print a copy of a favorite family photo or scenery that’s special to your older adult. You could also print out a photo or image they like, like a car, colorful fruit, etc.

Laminate the photo and cut it into four (or more) puzzle-piece shaped pieces to make a personalized DIY puzzle.

 

dementia activity ideas
7) Cut pictures from old magazines or calendars
Older adults might like leafing through old magazines or calendars and cutting out the images they like. It’s best to use magazines that reflect their hobbies or interests.

For those who’d enjoy it, they could also paste the pictures into a notebook, creating a fun “scrapbook.”

 

fun activities for seniors with Alzheimer's
8) $8 Puzzle cube
This fun puzzle cube is brightly colored and can provide lots of no-pressure fun for older adults who like to fidget with objects. It’s like a simplified version of a Rubik’s cube.

The object of this game is to simply enjoy turning the cube pieces and creating different color combinations on each face.

Those who are able might enjoy mixing up the colors and returning the faces to a single color.

 

activities for people with dementia
9) $9 Large print playing cards
Playing cards make a great activity for older adults, especially when the letters and numbers are large and easy to read.

Someone in early dementia might enjoy simple card games like solitaire, go fish, blackjack, or war. An older adult in later stages might enjoy simply shuffling the cards or separating them by color or suit.

Pay attention to their level of enjoyment. If they seem overwhelmed or frustrated, you may want to remove some of the cards so they don’t have to manage so many.

 

activities for people with dementia
10) $17 Pattern blocks and boards
These fun shapes can be used in a variety of ways. Seniors can use the included boards to create colorful pictures, make free form shapes, or trace the shapes on paper.

 

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By DailyCaring Editorial Team
Images: Atend, Hotel El Dorado, Anything But Bingo, Gone OutdoorsThe Montessori Motherload, Craft Buds, Portrait Puzzles, Shawna Allard, Amazon (cards), Amazon (puzzle cube), Amazon (pattern blocks)

 

This article reflects prices at publication, but prices and availability may change. This article wasn’t sponsored, but does contain affiliate links. We never link to products or services for the sole purpose of making a commission. Recommendations are based on our honest opinions. For more information, see How We Make Money.


6 Comments

  • Reply September 25, 2019

    Traci

    HI
    My mother has just recently had to go into memory care assisted living but she is bored and laments not doing anything productive. Prior to having to live where she is, she was cleaning, doing dishes etc. I am in desperate need of tasks that are meaningful that she can do at the facility. She is not far enough along to be fooled by repeated busy work, and it makes her mad when people try to get her to do “pointless” tasks.
    I need help with suggestions.
    Thanks

    • Reply September 28, 2019

      DailyCaring

      It sounds like the type of productive activities she could do will depend on her living environment. She may be able to clean her own room, fold her own laundry, etc. Look around for these types of everyday activities that she’s still able and willing to do.

      It might also be worthwhile to speak with the administrator to see if there are small tasks that she would be able to help. This would really depend on if there’s a match between getting the facility staff’s OK and the type of activity that she would want to do.

  • Reply March 26, 2019

    Elsie Hackman

    One thing I didn’t see in this article is when a dementia patient asks about someone who has passed away, do you tell them that? My sister asks to see our Mom and Dad who have been gone for many years. Also, this article talks about the “older” persons with dementia. Many are not older. My sister is only 57, 16 years younger than myself.

  • Reply May 5, 2018

    Bev

    Do you have any suggestions for someone with dementia who also has limited vision from macular degeneration?

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