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15 Stimulating Activities for Dementia Patients

Help delay memory loss with these fun-filled pursuits.

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Caring for a loved one with dementia is not easy. However, caretakers who understand dementia can ease the burden of the condition by helping those suffering from it to access the proper therapies and medical care. They are the best aid for dementia patients to manage the condition and live a better, more comfortable life.

In 2022, there were 10.7 percent or 6.5 million Americans, aged 65 and over, living with Alzheimer’s Disease, one of the most common causes of dementia. Dementia, a general term used to describe a decline in mental ability, can impact daily activities, as normal cognitive brain functions are disrupted. It is important to educate yourself on the condition immediately to understand how to slow the decline.

Because of our rapidly aging population, dementia cases are on the rise. By learning more about these conditions, it’s possible to help others take steps to prevent or delay the onset of symptoms.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Dementia?

Being aware of early signs and symptoms can help in managing the condition and preventing its aggravation. Some of the usual warning signs of dementia are:

  • Memory loss
  • Confusion
  • Poor judgment
  • Difficulty expressing thoughts
  • Repeating questions
  • Losing interest in normal daily activities
  • Hallucinations, delusions, or paranoia
  • Losing balance
  • Problems with movements
What Causes Dementia?

Now that you know the common symptoms of dementia, it is helpful to understand some of the factors that make a person more likely to develop it. Ultimately, dementia is caused by damage to the brain cells, which interferes with their ability to communicate with each other. Here are some of the factors that may play a role in developing dementia:

  • Aging
  • Family history
  • Race
  • Poor heart health
  • Traumatic brain injury
Is There a Cure for Dementia?

While there is no cure for dementia, there are some medications that can help manage the symptoms. Professional caregivers may also provide care that can help prevent or delay cognitive impairment. In addition to providing proper medical care to patients, caregivers can also engage dementia patients with stimulating activities, many of which can be performed at home.

Stimulating Activities for Dementia Patients

Choosing active, engaging, and fun activities can be beneficial for the physical and cognitive health of dementia patients. Here are some activities to try:

1. Daily exercises and physical activities

The benefits of daily exercise go beyond boosting physical health to promoting an elevated mood, preventing depression, and improving sleep quality. Whether it’s a walk, an impromptu dance party, or some chair yoga, the key is to get them moving.

2. Cooking or baking

Schedule time in the kitchen to explore a new recipe or rediscover an old one. Following a recipe helps those suffering from dementia to be aware of next steps and what needs to be done. Making a meal can also promote social stability and build an emotional connection.

3. Animal therapy

If your loved one is a pet lover but does not have a pet, then consider animal therapy. Pets can help relieve stress and anxiety. They also enhance mood and happiness levels.

4. Read their favorite book to them

While reading may be a challenge for some people with dementia, caregivers read to them, allowing their imagination to take flight. Reading also creates an emotional bond between you and your loved one.

5. Music therapy

Listening to music is a comforting activity that helps people to reminisce. It can also help them to retrieve stored memories and create new ones. A recent study shows that music therapy may enhance the patient-caregiver relationship. It was also shown to improve cognitive function. Play their favorite music, and just let them enjoy it for as long as they want.

6. Arts and crafts

Painting, coloring, knitting, and more can help loved ones dealing with memory loss. Such activities encourage them to express themselves and can also activate their creative sides.

7. Gardening

Spending quality time outdoors has long been known to improve mental and physical wellbeing. Horticulture therapy, involving gardening or other plant-based activities, has been shown to improve memory, language skills, cognitive abilities, socialization, and more. Gardening also relieves stress, depression, and anxiety while also making people feel productive and busy.

8. Do puzzles

Puzzles, such as jigsaws and crosswords, can stimulate the brain. They help people with dementia exercise their thinking and can also sharpen memory. Brain exercises can even delay the progress of dementia by continually providing cognitive stimulation.

9. Reminisce

Reminiscing stimulates memories and helps people to reconnect with their past. Sharing memories can also create an emotional and social connection.

10. Watch old movies

A movie night is a fun way to help dementia sufferers flex their memory muscles. It is a stress-free activity that is enjoyable for all.

11. Do simple chores

Household chores like folding the laundry or wiping the tables and chairs may not sound like fun, but it can help people to stay active and productive. Doing something also keeps the brain working.

12. Look at photo albums

Photos are a great way to relive beloved memories. Perusing old photo albums can also help those dealing with dementia to improve their memory, plus it offers feel-good stimulation.

13. Play games

Games like checkers, chess, cards, dominoes, and board games can be fun while also encouraging strategic thinking.

14. Play a musical instrument

For the musically inclined, picking up an old instrument is thought to provide a host of benefits, including lowering heart rate, reducing stress, and more. In fact, one study reports that musicians were 64 percent less likely to develop mild cognitive impairment or dementia. Playing a musical instrument, which stimulates the brain, is thought to protect against cognitive impairment. 

15. Daily bonding time

Share your time and attention. From doing fun activities to chatting to watching the birds outside, your mere presence can help someone suffering from dementia feel like they have someone they can rely on.

These activities are part of the cognitive stimulation therapy often provided to dementia patients by social-care workers, psychologists, occupational therapists, nurses, and caregivers. Anyone who works with dementia patients can be trained to conduct stimulating activities. Even family members can go through training, so they can administer the activities at home to their loved one with dementia.

Benefits of Stimulating Activities for Dementia Patients

In those suffering dementia, a lack of stimulating activities can lead to boredom. The pain of memory loss and not being able to think clearly can be frustrating. Stimulating activities can help them to stay busy and engaged. Here are just some of the benefits:

  • Prevents depression and anxiety
  • Activates memory
  • Exercises the brain
  • Keeps the brain actively working
  • Encourages self-expression
  • Provides relaxation
  • Makes them feel more active physically, socially, and mentally
  • Makes them feel productive
  • Enhances emotional connection
  • Manages challenging behaviors

Dementia is a never-ending mental battle. If nothing is done, it can progress at a faster rate. Caregivers who provide simple, stimulating activities can delay the progression of the condition and give dementia patients a better quality of life.



About The Author
Nina-Julia

Nina is an accomplished writer and the founder of cfah.org, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the health and wellbeing of individuals and communities. She is a passionate advocate for evidence-based health policies and practices and has devoted her career to communicating complex medical and scientific information in clear, accessible language.