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10 Activities for Seniors With Dementia

Written by Kristen Hicks
 about the author
5 minute readLast updated April 3, 2023

It’s no question that social isolation can be potentially detrimental to the health of older adults. Humans are wired to be social beings, and caregivers can lean into this by planning activities and events. Engaging in meaningful moments with family and friends can bring a smile to your loved one’s face. These activities can also help them maintain their mental, emotional, and physical wellness as they age.

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Despite the growing number of people living with dementia, family caregivers and memory care facilities still struggle to figure out the best way to properly care for dementia patients while also providing them with the means to enjoy their days.
The more challenging caregiving gets, the harder it gets to devote time to activities that improve a loves one’s quality of life. And staying active helps support overall brain health. Explore the fun activity ideas for seniors with dementia below.

Doing improvisational theater

Also known as improv, this is a type of group comedy that involves making things up on the spot. While mostly known as a pastime of young comedians and performers, many seniors with dementia have started to give it a try.
Not only is improv a fun way to spend an hour or two and a good opportunity for socializing, but researchers have also found evidence that it improves the lives of the seniors who give it a go. Improv focuses on living in the moment and going with the flow, which takes the pressure off for people who spend most of their day confused about the lines between the past, present, and future.

Listening to and creating music

Nobody wants to live a life without music. Seniors currently slipping into their memories of earlier times may find it difficult, if not impossible, to figure out how to pull up their favorite tunes on a computer or iPhone. That shouldn’t impede their ability to have music enrich their lives.
Caregivers can make a point to play music for their loved ones regularly. Many senior living communities schedule live music performances and music-oriented activities for residents.
Music therapy is often used to help seniors enjoy their life more. Some caregivers specifically seek out songs they know their parent loved in their past, which can inspire fond memories and give them the opportunity to sing along.

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Crafts keep your hands busy and your mind focused on doing something creative. If a loved one with dementia is in the later stages of the disease, you may want to stick with simpler craftsthat aren’t too complicated. Be sure to choose projects that don’t seem too childish, though.


Gardening is a healthy activity that can get a person outside and focused on something that requires often-enjoyable work and progress. Research suggests it’s good for boosting a senior’s mood.
As an added benefit, gardening can produce beautiful flowers or even healthy, fresh produce – the kind of ingredients doctors are quick to recommend to any senior.

Cooking and baking

Like gardening, cooking is an activity that provides both a way to keep busy and a tasty, useful result. You should always make sure that a loved one with dementia is supervised while cooking to keep them safe.
Equipping a senior with the proper ingredients and means to put together a delicious meal or dessert, especially one that they enjoyed cooking before their diagnosis, can leave them with a sense of accomplishment and a feeling that their day was productive.
Note that cooking more complex recipes may become increasingly difficult as your loved one’s condition progresses. Try preparing and measuring out certain ingredients ahead of time to simplify the process, or look for easier recipes for their favorite dishes.

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Spending time with animals

Animals bring out the best in many of us. Some assisted living facilities even bring in visiting therapy animals to give seniors an opportunity to give and receive unconditional love. The results are often impressive – dementia patients who have kept to themselves for months suddenly show joy again in the presence of an affectionate animal.
If your loved one is in the early stages of dementia, volunteering at a local animal shelter or visiting with family members’ pets can be beneficial.

Solving puzzles

Puzzles are a fun, challenging way to keep your parent’s brain active. You can even buy specialty puzzles designed with dementia patients in mind from online retailers. These are a bit simpler so they won’t be frustrating to patients.

Paying games

Long, complicated board games like Monopoly might not be a great option for your loved one, but there are plenty of games that will still be fun and manageable.
Card games, word games, and bingo are just a few examples that many dementia patients can still understand and enjoy. Many games provide the added benefit of being a social opportunity for the senior as well.


It’s simple. It’s healthy. And it gets them out of the house. Walks come with lots of opportunities to see and take in new things. Some seniors may enjoy getting in touch with nature, while others might prefer people-watching on outings.
You can shake things up by taking your loved one to different areas of town for regular walks. Exploring new places and things is a good way to keep life from becoming monotonous.
If your parent is in the later stages of the disease, keep an eye out for signs of agitation. Unfamiliar settings may be disorienting for some seniors with dementia.

Doing household tasks

It doesn’t sound like fun, but doing chores around the house can serve a useful purpose for older adults (and not just in terms of having a cleaner house). That sense of accomplishment we’ve mentioned in relation to a few other activities can definitely come into play each time a senior finishes folding clothes or drying dishes.
Further, household chores are likely something they’ve been doing their entire life. Keeping up with the good habits of old can help them retain a sense of normalcy.
This is by no means an exhaustive list. Anything that a senior with dementia loved doing throughout their life that’s still safe for them to do can be a good activity to build into their daily or weekly routine. The most important point to take away from this piece is that staying active is important. Whatever form that takes, make sure the dementia patient you know and love is finding ways to participate in life and keep their days full.


Meet the Author
Kristen Hicks

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