Activities for persons living with dementia
As part of your Joy Plan, include a variety of stimulating and restful experiences based on your loved one’s life-long preferences
Stimulating activities: Games, physical exercise, creative arts, socializing, household chores, sensory activities
Restful activities: Reading, TV shows and DVDS, puzzles, faith-based activities, sensory activities
Everyone who lives with dementia has a different perspective on what is meaningful and enjoyable to him or her. If a loved one is a longtime gardener, it is natural to pursue that activity. How that activity is carried out will depend on the stage of their dementia. As the disease progresses, match activities to ability to avoid frustration. Do not expect too much. Your goal should be in terms of the process and enjoyment of an activity, rather than an outcome. Early-stage vegetable gardening might become mid-stage raking and flower arranging; late-stage might be looking at gardening magazines and catalogs. Bridge games might become rummy, war, or eventually card matching/sorting. Cooking meals might become doing prep work, which can later become looking at recipes.
Games for persons living with dementia
Early stage: word searches, crosswords, Sudoku, trivia, jigsaw puzzles, Scrabble, Boggle, chess, checkers, Backgammon, Yahtzee, Bingo, gin rummy, solitaire, Jenga
Mid-stage: tic tac toe, simpler word searches, simpler crosswords done together, trivia on well-known subjects, Scattergories, hangman, jigsaw puzzles with fewer pieces, Uno, Connect Four, checkers, dominos, Bingo, crazy 8’s, Bunko, Chinese checkers
Later-stage: Bean bag toss, Finish the Phrase, simplified Scattergories, matching games, dominos by color, Quirkle, War with cards or card sorting by suit, Jigsaw puzzles with very few pieces.
Be aware that people might not fall easily into one category or another. The more familiar an activity is, the longer it will be retained. If someone was a gambler, try shooting craps! Think back to childhood games like shooting marbles or playing Old Maid, Don’t Spill the Beans, or Chutes and Ladders. Those old familiar games easily come back to us and bring back fond memories. Grandkids and great grandkids can be incorporated, as well.
Technology for persons living with dementia
Technology can help you entertain, stimulate, and delight your loved one. Here are some ideas to help at each stage of the way.
Early-stage: Game Show, Grey Matters, Let’s Create! Pottery, Mind Mate, Luminosity, Word Search Colorful, Words with Friends, Solitaire, Dominos
Mid-stage: Talking Tom Cat, Piano with Songs, Flower Garden, Jigsaw Puzzles Real, Mobile Montessori
Later-stage: My Reef 3D, Colorfy, Relaxing Sounds, Headspace, Relax Radio, Popping Bubbles
- Virtual Reality Headsets offer opportunities for immersive experiences, either alone or with others. Some platforms are specifically designed for older adults.
- Try games like Candy Crush or Flow Free. Try music applications, such as iTunes and Spotify. Playlist for Life is specifically intended for people living with dementia. Pictello is an app that can be used to create a life story/memory book.
For more ideas, look at online sources like Active Minds or The Alzheimer’s Store. They have products and games specifically developed for people living with dementia.