For an individual with dementia, keeping the mind active and stimulated every day is key. As a caregiver, you have the unique opportunity to plan activities that accomplish this goal in a fun and engaging way. During the fall and winter months, it’s likely that your planned outdoor activities will be shifting indoors to avoid cold or inclement weather. If you’re unsure where to start planning as the temps drop, we’ve got a few resources to help you out. Remember, in general, activities for people with dementia should be both simple and enjoyable.

DIY Holiday Decorations

Whether it’s ornaments for a tree or table settings for a family meal, there are plenty of do-it-yourself crafts that are perfect for the holidays. Find tutorials that are easy to follow and require minimal effort. If an individual has grandchildren, consider finding crafts that can appeal to a younger age range and encourage a joint activity day.

Art creation is an important part of memory care therapy. It promotes physical movement, creative expression and opportunities for bonding with others. 

Home Cooking

Everyone has a favorite holiday recipe they love to make! Food reminds us of the people we love and the memories we created with them. Find a simple, quick recipe (or an easier version of a favorite dish) and make it together. Cooking is a great activity for seniors with dementia because you follow very specific and logical steps and it isn’t too high-pressure. Moreover, you can easily supervise and help your loved one. Make sure to give yourself plenty of time, so you don’t have to rush.  

Nothing brings people together quite like a lovely meal, a delicious dessert or a fun appetizer.

Organize Collectibles

Some individuals with dementia find a sense of calm from organizational tasks. If they’ve collected items like records, photos or coins over the years, offer to help them sort through all of these items and display them in a meaningful way. These items can also trigger happy memories and invite discussion about one’s lived experiences.

Game Nights

Board games, puzzles and cards are not only great activities for a chilly or stormy day but are the perfect way to encourage socializing. Select games that fit all individuals’ comfort level and help facilitate meaningful, small interactions between participants.

Indoor Gardening

Cold weather doesn’t have to stop one’s love of gardening; there are a variety of plants that thrive in smaller, indoor environments. Do your research ahead of time to identify a sampling of greenery that will not only perform well in one’s specific living space but does not require care above the capabilities of the gardener. 

Movie Nights

All it takes is a bucket of popcorn, a comfy couch and a good movie to make the perfect night in. If there’s nothing new to watch on your streaming service, try to locate old family videos or classic films from your loved one’s life. Re-experiencing old memories has the capacity to stimulate the mind and bring back the joyful emotions of a different time.

Chair Yoga

Simple, repetitive movements that get blood circulating can have an immensely positive impact on those with dementia. “Chair yoga” is a great exercise option for those with limited mobility and can be practiced from the comfort of one’s living room.

Plan a Virtual Field Trip

Want to take a trip but can’t leave the house? Instead of worrying about driving in bad weather, consider facilitating a virtual tour of the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA). The “Meet Me” MOMA Alzheimer’s program offers various interactive tools and media galleries that create a fun museum experience from the comfort of home.

Personalized Activities for Seniors with Dementia

Remember to tailor your planned activities to the needs of the individual you’re working or living with. For example, if they’re stressed, you might start with at-home yoga. If they need a creative outlet, develop a Pinterest board of holiday crafts to try. As a caregiver, the activities you plan are an opportunity to bring companionship and joy to another’s daily routine—even the simplest activity can make a big difference.