Tips for keeping boredom at bay

Activities are a great way to keep someone with dementia feeling happy, calm and stimulated. We’ve picked out a selection, but feel free to share your tips at the bottom of the page

If the person you’re caring for seems bored, there are plenty of hobbies and pastimes you could consider which might really cheer them up and keep them occupied. Simply schedule any suitable diversions into their daily care plan. Read below for some inspiration.

Arts

It can stimulate conversation as you encourage them to talk about what they’ve painted or drawn.

What can you do?
- The person with dementia could use paints or watercolours if they wish to create paintings, or stick to pencils and felt-tip pens for something less messy. If they’re struggling to hold paintbrushes or palettes, there are specially designed ones to help people with limited dexterity.

>> SHOP: ACTIVITIES

Crafts

It encourages creativity, which stimulates the brain. This can give a huge amount of pleasure and satisfaction.

What can you do?
- Try making bead necklaces for gifts or decorating a bird feeder for the garden – creating something they can then see 'in use' not only gives the activity purpose it gives them a great sense of satisfaction.

Games

Games are a great way for engaging someone with dementia and stimulating their mind, they can encourage conversation too.

What can you do?
- Suggest games such as dominoes, whist, bridge, or bingo if you have a few people available. Simple games such as Connect-4 or rolling dice games can be great fun.

>> SHOP: SOOTHING PRODUCTS

Puzzles

Jigsaw puzzles are useful for people with dementia because they activate both halves of the brain, enhancing the connections between them.

What can you do?
- Pick puzzles that have an interesting picture and are made from strong durable materials (plastic rather than cardboard). Don’t forget about word puzzles such as crosswords and wordsearch grids, if they're able to recall and read words.

Conversation & reminiscence

Many older people enjoying talking about their younger years without even realising that it can be good for them, so it’s definitely an activity that should be encouraged.

What can you do?
- You could set up a short quiz on events that happened during a particular era, using a quiz book, CD of old music or game.
- Make a memory or life story book and stick pictures, old ticket stubs or anything that they might have kept over the years as mementoes.

>> SHOP: SIMPLE MUSIC PLAYERS

Exercise

Being physically fit is very important for building strength, which can help prevent falls in older people. Even if the exercise they do is done from a seated position, the action of it can still help.

What can you do?
- Sporting hobbies which you can play indoors or from a seat, such as golf putting, skittles, tabletop pool or darts will encourage movement.
- Squeezy balls are great for building hand strength, which can help with general manual dexterity. Silk scarves, mini bean bags and inflatable beach balls can be used for throwing and catching.

Gardening

This is a great hobby if mobility allows, plus getting outside is good for health.

What can you do?
- Grow plants or flowers that bloom or produce fruits easily. Make sure the garden is suitable for someone with dementia.
- If they enjoy flower arranging as a hobby, you can use some of the flowers grown in the garden to do this. Flower arranging is multi-sensory – they’re using sight and smell to interact with flowers and plants, and putting arrangements together encourages manual dexterity and promotes a sense of achievement.

Birdwatching

Ideal for people with dementia so long as their eyesight is strong enough or they have access to binoculars. It’s a good hobby to encourage throughout the year – in the winter you can birdwatch from a bedroom or living room window, in summer you can sit outside to do it.

What can you do?
- Encourage them to keep a log of the birds they’ve spotted. If they’re still able to use a camera, they may also be able to take photographs.

Collecting

Whether it’s stamps, coins or comic books, collecting is a fun hobby that can appeal to anyone who enjoys reminiscence therapy as it encourages them to think back to when they first acquired the item.

What can you do?
- Store the items in books or special boxes so they can look through them easily.

Cooking

While dementia can affect your ability to follow recipes, cooking can still be an enjoyable hobby if there’s someone there to help and supervise.

What can you do?
- Pick recipes that have minimal ingredients and steps so that it’s easier to keep track of what they need to do.

Singing

Singing songs is a great activity to avoid boredom as it can be done in a group or with just a couple of people. Not only that, but singing is great for health and wellbeing – studies have found that people who sing regularly have a stronger immune system, it releases more mood-boosting endorphins, gives the lungs a workout and stimulates circulation.

What can you do?
- Pick songs that they’ll recognise – the ones they remember from their youth might be best. If the person you’re caring for is a member of a choir, and is still able to read music, then encourage them to continue. There are also some brilliant singing groups specially designed for people with dementia. Find out if there's one near you.