A guide to living well with dementia. Containing activities and ideas that may help you or your relative, living with dementia, stay active and involved.
- Please remember it is not about completing any task, it is often better to spend a short time on one task and move to another.
- It’s important to try to stay calm and positive around the person with dementia even if that’s not how you are feeling, body language, tone of voice and a smile are often more effective than words.
- Develop a daily routine, keep it simple and adapt for the current situation. Routine is important and helps people feel more safe and secure. Perhaps you could arrange a regular time of day to connect, to help give you structure and something to look forward to.
- Consider linking an activity to a person’s work-life or interests – for example, someone that worked in an office may enjoy an activity that involves organising.
- If you have access to a computer, tablet or smartphone, there are many good websites offering lots of resources and ideas. Music sites, games, word searches, puzzles, solitaire, reminiscence sites and great advice from charities like Alzheimer’s UK.
Memory or Rummage boxes
Memory or Rummage Boxes are a really excellent isolation activity to create and look through together, with a variety of multi-sensory objects that can be handled, looked at, smelt, listened to and even tasted. These can be generic or themed to a topic such as job, hobby, decade or entertainment.
Download our Guide to Creating Memory Boxes here.
View our other activity ideas below
Music can often be a very successful mood changer, helping to lift up or calm down the mood or take you back to a familiar memory. Try singing along or maybe get up for a bit of a dance, dancing even in your own lounge can be very uplifting. Theme a session, write a playlist together to listen to, use CDs or online resources and singalongs.
Create a scrapbook
Write memories down as they occur during reminiscence or chat times, it doesn’t need to be a chronological record, just a collection of memories, perhaps add some of those photos. Once it is compiled it is a lovely book to sit and look through together. Perhaps make more than one - specific books about family, job, holidays, TV shows, pets, hobbies and interest. Handwritten or typed up and printed on a computer, either is fine.
The Television and computer
The Television and computer often feel ‘real’ so may feel like there is company in the house, particularly if you discuss what is going on. Drama and soap operas may be hard to follow and remember plots, so quizzes, music, nature shows, cookery or antique shows are often more effective. Watching old movies together, or TV from the past is a nice reminiscence activity.
Go on a virtual ‘walk’
Go on a virtual ‘walk’ with someone using photos and chat, or via Google street view if you have a smart phone or computer, through familiar streets past and present.
Daily living tasks
Daily living tasks can be an activity like washing up, folding laundry, laying the table, dusting. These help someone feel involved and provides an activity.
Cooking together if this is a safe activity to do, involve your loved one with the menu planning, you could have a theme, such as, baking.
Gardening if the environment is safe and the person is supervised or plant indoor seeds in pots.
Jigsaws, crosswords, quizzes, word searches – are all good distraction, remember it doesn’t need to be completed, just have a go at solving these together
Place things around the home that people can pick up and use or look at. Magazines, objects, photos, books, things that are reminiscent to their own life.
Pampering and Relaxation
Hand massage or manicure, some time to pamper and relax together. Listening to recordings of birds singing, the sea etc. can be very relaxing, as can holding objects with different textures.
Card games, dominoes and board games like Scrabble are a nice way to spend time together, again don’t worry if you don’t complete them or follow the rules. For example just making words from the tiles of the Scrabble game can be challenging and fun without using the board.
With crafts such as knitting, painting or colouring, some of which may be hobbies never tried or long forgotten. Many people find joy rediscovering hobbies. They are a good way of distracting and relaxing people, try doing it together if there are others in the house.
These can be a great way of revisiting the past, don’t worry too much about identifying who is who in the photo. For example an old family photo of a day at the beach can produce lots of conversation about what people are wearing, what they may be doing on a beach, sand, shells, sun cream, picnics, even the British weather.
Phone the family, write them a letter, even use Apps and social media platforms that allow you to use video calling such as Skype, WhatsApp and Zoom if you are able to. Seeing someone’s face as well as hearing their voice, can make you feel closer.