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Dementia Activity Ideas

Dementia Activity Ideas

Activities to meaningfully engage someone with dementia or Alzheimer's come in many forms, and often the simplest are the most effective. These articles offer suggestions on activities that you can make or buy, as well as how to take advantage of a person's interests to engage them successfully.

  1. Making the Most of Father's Day (and beyond)

    Making the Most of Father's Day (and beyond)

    Father's Day is a celebration held in many countries around the world to honor fathers and show appreciation and love for all that they have done in helping raise the family. In Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and many other countries, it is celebrated on the third Sunday in June, which is June 18 this year.

    Father’s Day offers a great opportunity to draw on a person with dementia or Alzheimer’s interests and past experiences to make it a special day.

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  2. Pocket Packs - A Multi-Purpose Activity Set

    Pocket Packs - A Multi-Purpose Activity Set

    Pocket Packs might be our favorite product for people with dementia and Alzheimer's. They are convenient, easy to use, appealing to the interests of many and can be offered to provide appropriate challenge for different levels of ability. They come about as close to "one size fits all" as possible.

    There are five different Pocket Packs, including

    • Dice game
    • Playing card sorting
    • Photo strip puzzle
    • "Expressions" word game
    • Photo matching activity
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  3. When is a Deck of Cards Not Just a Deck of Cards?

    When is a Deck of Cards Not Just a Deck of Cards?

    We are often asked what the difference is between our products for people with dementia and Alzheimer’s and the basic materials that you can buy off the shelf.

    In many cases, the “core” of the activity is a familiar, common item, and in fact, that’s one of the benefits. People are more comfortable around familiar items and will often have an automatic, pleasurable response. The more familiar the materials are to the person, the more they will "connect" with the items and the more opportunity there is for reminiscing and having a successful and meaningful activity.

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  4. How to Choose a Jigsaw Puzzle for Someone with Dementia

    How to Choose a Jigsaw Puzzle for Someone with Dementia

    Jigsaw puzzles are a popular pastime for many people. They are an inexpensive form of entertainment that can provide hours of challenge and engagement. They also provide a multitude of benefits including exercising visual perception and fine motor control, and practising project completion and patience. For most people, these benefits go unnoticed but for someone with dementia or Alzheimer’s they can be significant. It is these benefits combined with the sense of accomplishment that comes with completing the puzzle that make a properly selected jigsaw puzzle an excellent activity for someone with dementia, whether or not they did puzzles on a regular basis in the past.

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  5. Origami as an Activity for Dementia and Alzheimer's

    Origami as an Activity for Dementia and Alzheimer's

    As spring arrives, I am reminded of a creative program that I used several years ago. We made paper sculptures of irises and chicks. This is an adaptation of Origami – the art of paper folding, often associated with Japanese culture. Origami purists transform a flat sheet of square paper into a finished sculpture without cuts, glue or marking on the paper. These two activities use all of the above and are therefore not true origami.

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  6. Coloring Books for People with Dementia

    Coloring Books for People with Dementia

    There have been many articles written about coloring books for adults and recently Gail Elliot of DementiAbility wrote about the research supporting the therapeutic benefits of their use for people with dementia. An effective creative art therapy program can be designed around using these coloring pages, both at home and in facilities. Depending on the people involved, large group, small group or an individual program may be most appropriate.

    Because we are generally less alert and not as inclined to concentrate in the period after lunch or in the early afternoon, this is an ideal time for creative programs. These programs tend to be not as demanding of cognitive or physical abilities, and they are relaxing and so best suited to that time period.

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  7. The Art of Choosing a Gift for Someone with Dementia

    The Art of Choosing a Gift for Someone with Dementia

    Many articles have been written over the years about choosing gifts for people with dementia. Most focus on “activities of daily living” ideas, such as adaptive clothing, large size clocks and the like. Although they include many creative and thoughtful suggestions and there’s no question that these are important, there’s more to selecting an appropriate gift. In this article we will focus on gifts that can be used to engage the person with dementia in meaningful activity.

    Like anything that is worthwhile, it isn’t easy. There are many considerations when selecting a gift and knowing the person is starting point. When selecting a gift for someone with dementia, start by asking yourself - WHO is the person? What are their interests, abilities and needs?

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  8. How Do I Choose An Activity for Someone with Dementia?

    Choosing an activity for a person with dementia is not easy. The activities not only have to be of interest to them, the person must also be able to do them successfully. Even though they may have had a hobby that they loved, just throwing them into the middle of it likely won't work. Rather, it will be frustrating for them because they realize that they can no longer do it. They could easily be disinterested and even get angry. It is important for their self-esteem that they are able to participate in the activity and experience a sense of accomplishment.

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  9. The Box is Ticked, Now What?

    The Box is Ticked, Now What?

    Most facilities have some type of form to collect information about the interests of each resident from family members, and we provide a form in our workshop materials (which you can download here). Using a checklist rather than just working from memory is important because it can remind family members of interests that the person with Alzheimer's or dementia had in the past but haven’t done in a long time. These are often the most successful interests to draw on.

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  10. The Box is Ticked - Knitting for Someone with Dementia

    The Box is Ticked - Knitting for Someone with Dementia

    In our "The Box is Ticked" article, we talk about the importance of drawing on a person’s past interests to engage the person, even if they can no longer do the activity. In this article, we talk about knitting for people with Alzheimer's or dementia.

    Knitting is a popular pastime but often family doesn’t even bother to check this box on the Interests Checklist because they have decided that the person can no longer complete the knitting projects that they were able to do in the past. That may be true, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t find ways to tap into the person’s interest to enable them to re-connect with something that was pleasurable for them.

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