Whether you live with someone who has dementia or just visit from time to time, here’s a few activities you could enjoy together, courtesy of the team at the National Activity Providers Association:

1 - Help write or tape an autobiography

For a person with dementia, recounting special memories doesn’t only relieve boredom, it can boost self-esteem, provide meaning and purpose and become an extremely enjoyable process. If you’re not sure where to start, you could try choosing a theme or subject, such as ‘starting school’ or ‘my grandparents.’ Generally speaking, the further back in time you go, the clearer the memories tend to be. You might even find you learn something you didn’t know about them! If writing or typing is too much for them or you, you could simply record them talking on your phone or a tape recorder. Later, you could transfer the recording to a CD or transcribe it yourself. Whatever you do, it’s sure to become a very precious and useful keepsake. For more information on how to do this go here.

2 - Read a newspaper or magazine aloud

Many people with dementia, particularly those in the earlier stages, want to keep in touch with what’s happening in the world but find it increasing difficult to do so, especially if reading or concentration skills are beginning to falter. If reading independently is too much, they might be missing out on events that still interest them. Reading aloud will enable them to continue sharing their thoughts and opinions and engage in conversations about issues that matter to them.

3 - Create a collage poster with pictures from magazines

It really doesn’t matter whether they haven’t picked up a paintbrush since they were six years old, a simple art projects can be totally absorbing, and for someone with dementia the process can be a way to restore dignity, ease anxiety and give a sense of control. There’s no right or wrong way to do it either, so it could be lots of fun. For more information about art and music activities go here.

4 - Have an indoor picnic

Picnics can be a powerful reminiscence tool, as well as a good way to make mealtimes less stressful. You could both be involved in the preparation; make sandwiches together, for example and lay an old tablecloth on the carpet so you don’t worry about the crumbs! You might want to invite grandchildren around to share in the fun too.

5- Play name that tune with old CDs, records or a playlist

A great way to stimulate conversation and listen to some favourite songs at the same time. Music can have enormous benefits for people with dementia. Go here for more information.

6 - Do a crossword together, or do yours out loud (listening is an activity!)

Crosswords and puzzles stimulate both mind and memory. If the person you care about might struggle to complete a crossword now, you could try one specially designed for people with dementia. Go here for more information about a unique puzzle book from Unforgettable.

7 - Make a joy box or memory box

Decorate a shoe box or you could use a favourite old handbag if they’d prefer. Fill it with items that mean a lot and spend time talking about the items and what they mean. Go here for more inspiration.

8 - Share favourite stories and memories

If this is becoming difficult, why not try using memory joggers such as old photographs, favourite music, perfume, or treasured household objects to get things going. Or you could try this lovely reminiscence book, created by a former family carer, which spans the 1940s- 1980s. Go here for more information.

9 - Look at travel books, glossy brochures, dream about a fantasy holiday

Follow it up by watching a film or documentary about your favourite destination and finding out more about it.

10 - Hold hands and be a good listener

Sometimes it’s enough to simply spend time together in comfortable silence.


Want to read more?

21 ideas for group activities

You can also learn more about NAPA and their work at their website.