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Activities for dementia

Keeping an active social life is key to helping someone with dementia feel happy and motivated.

Keeping an active social life is key to helping someone with dementia feel happy and motivated.

There are clubs and activities designed to help people in the same situation. This can be rewarding for both the person with dementia and their families and carers.

Everyone needs a sense of purpose and to enjoy themselves during the day. Encouraging someone with dementia to do something creative, take gentle exercise, or join in an activity helps them to realise their potential. This in turn improves their self-esteem and reduces loneliness. People in the early stages of dementia may enjoy walking, attending age-appropriate gym classes, or meeting with understanding and supportive friends.

Read about how to raise self-esteem.

If you care for someone with dementia, a shared activity can make both of you happier, and is a chance to enjoy quality time together.

Multisensory activities can help dementia

If the person you care for has become very withdrawn, you may want to explore different ways of connecting with them.

The Alzheimer's Society has information on how people with dementia can keep active and stay involved, by gardening, baking, doing puzzles and more. There are also ideas for remembering the past in a happy way, like visiting a favourite place or creating a memory box.

Activities like chatting or reading become more difficult in the later stages of dementia. That's why a multisensory approach to interacting is vital when someone has advanced dementia. Bright colours, interesting sounds and tactile objects can all catch their attention, in a way other activities may not any more.

Sensory gardens

A sensory garden is a garden or other plot designed to provide visitors with different sensory experiences. It may feature:

  • scented and edible plants
  • sculptures and sculpted handrails
  • water features that residents can hear and touch
  • textured touch-pads
  • magnifying glass screens
  • Braille and audio induction loop descriptions

A growing number of care homes now offer a sensory garden for residents to spend time in. They are usually wheelchair-friendly and with carefully chosen plants and flowers to attract local wildlife.

Sensory gardens can benefit older adults by encouraging them to spend more time outside. Their design and layout aim to provide a stimulating journey through the senses, heightening a person's awareness of what's around them.

Getting out and about

If you'd like to venture further from home, but are worried about managing the person with dementia's needs, there are organisations that can support you both.

Dementia Adventure offers outings and short breaks, such as barge sailing and woodland walks, designed for people living with dementia and their carers to enjoy together.

Memory cafes

A good way to meet other people with dementia and their carers is to find a "memory cafe" near you. Memory cafes offer an informal setting for people who are affected by memory problems and their carers to get support and advice.

Memory cafes operate on a drop-in basis, giving people the chance to exchange experiences and information, and receive practical and emotional support. Some memory cafes offer activities, as well as advice and refreshments.

The cafes are run by trained volunteers with the support of health professionals, and usually meet monthly for a couple of hours, although some meet fortnightly. Memory cafes are different from a "memory clinic", which is an NHS dementia service that involves assessing and diagnosing the condition, and requires a referral from a GP or hospital.

Find out about memory cafes.