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7 Best Activities for Seniors with Dementia

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A group of older adults dance and play the piano.

Dementia is a complex condition that affects many older adults and manifests with memory loss, communication difficulties, and changes in behavior. However, the diagnosis doesn’t signify an end to enjoying life. Activities for older adults with dementia can include:

  1. Reminiscing
  2. Music and dance
  3. Arts and crafts
  4. Gardening
  5. Puzzles and games
  6. Sensory stimulation
  7. Pet therapy

Finding joy in daily activities with personalized support and care can significantly enhance the quality of life for older adults with dementia, foster emotional connections, and preserve a sense of identity despite the challenges dementia may bring. 

Dementia & the Changing Needs of Seniors

Dementia is a general term for cognitive impairment encompassing various stages, each presenting unique challenges and shifts in thinking abilities. Understanding these changes is crucial in selecting activities that entertain and stimulate cognitive functions while respecting the individual’s current abilities and acknowledging their lifelong interests. It’s about balancing providing support and empowering them to engage meaningfully.

Benefits of Activities for Seniors

Activities help support healthy aging and include the following benefits:

  • Hobbies and social activities help lower the risk of developing health problems and certain diseases. 
  • Doing what you enjoy leads to happiness, life satisfaction, a sense of purpose, and a longer lifespan. 
  • Participating in activities helps lead to a meaningful, happy, and healthy life.  
  • More resilience often means better coping and recovery from difficult situations. 
  • Mentally stimulating activities can improve thinking ability and positively affect memory. 

The Right Activities for Seniors with Dementia

The key to selecting the right activities lies in observation and customization. What one person enjoys might frustrate another. Consider an older adult’s hobbies before their dementia diagnosis. Did they enjoy gardening, music, or art? 

Even simple modifications can make once-loved activities accessible again. When chosen activities are tailored to suit their evolving capabilities, they feel successful and valued.

An elderly woman smiles with her arm around a black dog.

Activities for older adults with dementia based on their interests and abilities help create routines and structure for their days. 

Reminiscence Therapy

Reminiscing can include activities with family and friends. Examples of activities involve sharing memories from the past, using photos, familiar objects, or music to trigger memories and encourage conversation. Even reconnecting with old friends is a beautiful way to recall and celebrate the individual’s life story.

Music & Dance

Creative activities such as music and dance can help with memory problems and dementia. These activities can unlock memories and reach parts of the brain in ways other forms of communication may not. Dancing is also a way to promote gentle physical activity and joy.

Arts & Crafts

Productive and social activities include arts and crafts. Creating and learning art can provide a sense of accomplishment and self-expression. Art and craft projects are often adaptable to fit any skill level. 


For older adults who enjoyed gardening before their dementia diagnosis, gardening can still be rewarding. Whether it’s indoor or outdoor gardening, interaction with nature and community members and the physical aspect of gardening can profoundly impact well-being.

Puzzles & Games

Simple puzzles and board games played with family, friends, and like-minded people help stimulate the brain and improve problem-solving skills. For a more positive experience, choose adaptive puzzles and games designed for older adults with dementia.

Sensory Stimulation

Activities with sensory stimulation involve engaging the senses through touch, smell, taste, sight, and hearing. While you can use sensory kits, simple household items can also evoke pleasant memories and feelings in older adults with dementia. 

Pet Therapy

Animal-assisted therapy, such as pet therapy, can improve mental and physical health in older adults. Interactions with animals can reduce stress, anxiety, and loneliness, encourage communication and memory recall, and provide a source of comfort and joy. Consider visits from trained therapy animals for older adults, or they can spend quality time with a family pet.

Tips for Caregivers & Family Members

Caregivers and family members of older adults can introduce these activities gently while observing their responses. What works one day may not work another, and that’s perfectly okay. 

The goal of activities for older adults with dementia is engagement and connection, not completing the activity itself. Always prioritize creating a supportive, safe environment where a loved one with dementia feels confident and valued. 

Memory Care for Loved Ones with Dementia

Incorporating enriching, enjoyable activities into the daily routine of loved ones with dementia can significantly impact their mood, well-being, and quality of life. These activities provide opportunities for connection, creativity, and celebration of each individual’s unique life and experiences. 

For caregivers and family members interested in an engaging support program for loved ones with dementia, contact The Legacy at South Plains to learn more about our personalized memory care program and its benefits. 

Written by LifeWell

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