Activities for dementia

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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, which 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, some gentle exercise, or take part in an activity helps them to realise their potential, which improves their self-esteem and reduces loneliness. People with the early stages of dementia may enjoy walking, attending gym classes for older people, or meeting up with understanding and supportive friends. Read about how to raise self-esteem.

If you care for someone who has dementia, a shared activity can also give you a chance to do something that makes both of you happier and able to enjoy quality time together.

If the person you care for has become very withdrawn, you may want to explore different ways of connecting with them.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 more advice 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, such as visiting a favourite place or putting together a memory box.

A multisensory approach to interacting is particularly important when someone has advanced dementia. This is because bright colours, interesting sounds and tactile objects can all catch their attention in a way that other activities, such as making conversation or reading, may not any more.

The website Elderly Activities has suggestions for games involving touch and smell, as well as memory exercises.

Sensory gardens Click to get info

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. A sensory garden is a garden or other plot designed to provide visitors with different sensory experiences. For example, a sensory garden 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

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 Click to get info

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 Click to get info

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 a memory cafe near you.