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Activities that Can Help Seniors with Dementia

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An older adult man sitting on a couch wearing headphones and listening to music.

Dementia can be a challenging condition to manage and cope with for both the individual and their loved ones. A person with dementia may experience changes in their mood and behavior, which can be stressful and confusing. Engaging in certain activities can help those with dementia improve their mental and emotional well-being and reduce the symptoms of the condition. These include:

  • Art and music therapy
  • Memory and physical exercise
  • Gardening
  • Cooking and baking
  • Pet therapy
  • Reminiscing

Senior living communities, especially those offering memory care services, often offer these types of activities for their residents with dementia. If you are caring for a loved one with dementia at home, there are some things you can do with them to keep them engaged and stimulated.

What Is Dementia?

Dementia is a general term that describes a decline in cognitive function, such as memory, thinking, and reasoning. It is not a specific disease but rather a group of symptoms caused by various conditions impacting the brain. 

There are different types of dementia, and everyone is affected differently.

Types of Dementia

Types of dementia include: 

  • Alzheimer’s disease: The most common type of dementia, accounting for up to 80% of cases.
  • Vascular dementia: Caused by reduced blood flow to the brain, often resulting from a stroke or other vascular diseases.
  • Lewy body dementia: A type of dementia where abnormal proteins accumulate in the brain, causing problems with movement, thinking, and behavior.
  • Frontotemporal dementia: A group of disorders that affect the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain, resulting in changes in personality and behavior.

Symptoms of Dementia

Memory loss is often the first noticeable symptom. However, memory problems are not always indicative of dementia—they can be caused by normal aging, stress, and other factors.

Dementia also presents with:

  • Language difficulties
  • Difficulty performing familiar tasks
  • Changes in mood and personality
  • Decreased social skills and self-care

Symptoms worsen over time and can affect a person’s ability to live independently.

Understanding the wide variety of dementia symptoms and how they can differ from person to person is crucial, especially if you’re going to be the primary caregiver for an older parent with dementia.

Starting with a few activities to keep them engaged and active is a great place to begin.

Activities That Can Help Stimulate the Mind

There are plenty of ways an older adult with dementia can occupy their time and stay engaged.

Art & Music Therapy

Art and music therapy can be highly beneficial in enhancing cognitive function and easing stress for those with dementia. Drawing, painting, or playing musical instruments can improve moods, reduce agitation, and promote socialization.

Memory & Physical Exercise

Regular mental and physical exercise can help maintain cognitive function and physical independence. Memory and cognitive exercises, such as puzzles or word games, help keep the brain active, while moderate physical exercises, such as walking or yoga, can improve physical health and mobility.


Gardening is highly therapeutic—planting seeds and watering plants can improve motor and sensory function while enhancing an appreciation for nature. Gardening is also a great low-impact exercise.

Cooking & Baking

Cooking and baking can be therapeutic activities that enhance dexterity and fine motor skills. Activities like stirring, kneading, and portioning food items help keep these skills sharp, which is particularly important for those whose abilities are impaired due to dementia.

Familiar smells and tastes from the kitchen can also bring back memories, providing comfort and a sense of familiarity. This connection to the past can be particularly beneficial for those dealing with memory loss.

Pet Therapy

Pet therapy can be highly effective in improving mood and reducing the symptoms of dementia. Spending time with animals can help reduce stress and agitation while promoting socialization and communication.


Reminiscing involves reflecting on the past and sharing life stories, memories, and experiences. Engaging those with dementia in this way can reduce stress and anxiety while improving mood and cognition. It encourages individuals to reflect on positive experiences and events of their past, enhancing their self-esteem and self-worth.

A group of older adults in a baking class with their instructor, each holding dough, smiling and looking directly at the camera

See How We Can Help Keep Your Loved One Engaged

As caregivers, creating a positive and stimulating environment can help your loved one with dementia lead an active and fulfilling life. Memory care communities can help with this!Call our compassionate team today at The Legacy at Falcon Point. We’re happy to show you our community and how we can make a difference in your loved one’s life.

Written by LifeWell

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