Activities for Those With Dementia
By Terri Murphy
It is universally recognized that elderly people with dementia lose their short term memory first and
their long term memory last. For example, they often remember people and events from their earlier
years, but have difficulty remembering what they ate for breakfast the day before.
So what do you do with someone who can no longer carry on normal conversations? The short answer
is “relax and have fun.” The long answer would require writing an
entire book. A short summary of
some activities that you can do with your loved one is:
1. Reminisce! Everything you do together lends itself to reminiscing. If a person can still speak
fairly well, say, “Tell me about…” If their vocabulary is more limited, you may have to facilitate
the story. “Do you remember when…” As you bake cookies together you can talk about
favorite cookies, meals, etc.
2. Read aloud and use visual aids such as memory poems, family pictures, or stories about “the
days gone by” to stimulate reminiscences. Ideas include the Chicken Soup for the Soul series
and Yesterdays by NaDezan and other short stories.
3. Make music. Sing, hum, whistle, and dance. Singing brings oxygen to the brain to help you think
more clearly. Dancing exercises other parts of the body. Both increase your own sense of wellbeing.
Choose your loved one’s favorite music and play it often.
4. Some sensory stimulation activities could include the following:
• Books on Tape
• Scrap Booking
• Visiting with Children
• Manicures/Salon visits
• Luncheon with a few friends
• Happy Hour with Non-Alcoholic drinks
Keeping the mind and body active are important for everyone, but especially your loved one with
Dementia. Do something that is enjoyable for both of you and it will make it that much easier.