Engaging Loved Ones With Dementia


For those living with dementia it’s important they continue to engage in activities that keep them active and social. Meaningful activities, even simple ones, are a critical component of everyday life for dementia and Alzheimer’s residents as well as their family members and caregivers. Keeping the mind and body engaged in meaningful activities can help mitigate the causes and symptoms of stress, anxiety, agitation or sleep loss.

The best part of engaging loved ones living with dementia is that these activities are often simple, free and entertaining for all involved. Try out some of these fun activities and remember that creating a safe environment is a critical first step in ensuring the activities will be enjoyed and successful.

Assess the Environment

If you’re a family member or caregiver of someone living with dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease it’s important to create an environment that lends itself to successful, engaging activities. A few things to check for before you begin include:

  • Lighting – is the environment where you plan on having the activity take place filled with adequate lighting? If the answer is no, open up a curtain, bring in an extra light source or consider having the activity take place somewhere else in the home.
  • Noise – are there distracting noises that will keep activities from being completed or engaging? Sometimes if the activity is a solo activity, residents may opt to wear noise cancelling headphones with ambient sounds or their favorite genre of music playing.
  • Clutter – clutter can be distracting and bothersome to those who are already feeling anxious, stressed or agitated. Removing clutter from the area or tabletop can help create a creative environment where dementia patients can maintain engagement and interest in the activity.

As a caregiver it’s also important to remember that engaging activities that work for one person may not work for another. Sometimes you’ll have to go through a bit of trial and error and that’s absolutely normal! There are always opportunities for revision and this can be a fun part of the process.

Try These Engaging Activities for Those With Dementia

  • Read A Book Aloud – Avid, lifelong readers may no longer be able to read as they once did. That doesn’t mean that being read to is out of the question. This is also a great activity for early readers to participate in — reading to grandma or grandpa can be an engaging and fun activity for the whole family!
  • Get Your Puzzle On – From crossword puzzles, jigsaw puzzles to word-search puzzles, puzzles are a great way to pass the time, work with your hands and they’re best done with friends and family. Puzzles have many benefits: they exercise both sides of the brain, improve spatial reasoning and boost feelings of happiness. These jigsaw puzzles range from 13 to 100 pieces and have been designed with dementia in mind.
  • Create a Collage – Collages are great for those who may have trouble with fine motor skills but still enjoy arts and crafts. Helping your loved one cut out some of their favorite images from old magazines and newspapers and having them glue them to cardstock is a great way to make conversation, enhance motor skills and enjoy beautiful images together. Plus, people are always looking to recycle their old magazines so you’ll never be lacking for new inspiration!
  • Listen to Music (and maybe even dance a little) – Music knows no boundaries! People of all ages love listening to music and dancing along. This is an especially fun activity for a former musician who may no longer have the ability to play their instrument. Music reduces stress, stimulates memory and eases pain. Learn more about the benefits of listening to music.
  • Play With A Pet – Animals bring so much joy to people in all stages of life. While playing with an animal you’re often exercising without even knowing it all while reducing stress and filling up your happiness tank. There are plenty of studies that reveal how pet therapy can help those with dementia. You may even consider the possibility of bringing in a pet full time.

It’s important to remember that many activities that your loved one once enjoyed are still attainable; in many cases they just need to be simplified. Here at Prestige Senior Living we employ innovative care techniques and life enrichment programming to engage our community members living with dementia and Alzheimer’s.

Remember, there is always an opportunity for engagement if you’re a caregiver. The more you explore your options the more activities you’ll find for dementia patients.