Activities at Home


It can be difficult to find activities to do with your loved one at home any time, but the cold winter months are especially difficult when the days are short and the nights long. We’ve compiled a list of activities for you to do with your loved one, and we hope this list will spark ideas of your own.

Before we get to the list, let’s be honest – it’s about quality over quantity. Activities can be done just to fill time and get something done, OR they can make space for quality interaction with your loved one. For example, you and your dad could sort a pile of nuts and bolts in just a few minutes. OR you could sit down with him, and as you sort, you could reminisce about how your dad taught you to build furniture. You could whip up some cookies quickly with Mom. OR as you mix the cookies, you could talk about a favorite family cookie recipe or baking together on holidays. Both ways are activities, but the later of each example is so much more meaningful for you and your loved one.

The goal of activities is to stimulate and give your loved one purpose NOT just to fill time. Also, the goal is NOT to get a correct outcome (folding the clothes correctly, having uniformly sized cookies, etc.). The process, not the product, is most important.

Be sure to present activities in an appealing way. Instead of: “Here, do this.” Say: “Would you help me…?” People with dementia have shortened attention spans and can be easily distracted by noise/sounds/clutter. Your loved one may lose interest in an activity quickly, especially if left alone. Those with dementia can lack initiative to start activities on their own and may be sensitive to the fact that they are not able to do things like they once did. Be gentle. Be encouraging. Enjoy your time together.

  • Make your own sing-along. Turn on closed captioning and put on an old musical. TV made new!
  • Create your own food awards – try different recipes for one kind of food (pizza, cookies, chicken salad, etc.), taste them all, rate which is best, and crown the winner
  • Listen to and sing along with favorite music
  • Look through coffee table books and talk about pictures
  • Go for a walk
  • Plant a small herb garden to grow inside
  • Ask for help with the laundry – matching socks, folding towels
  • Polish the silver
  • Hand wash or dry the dishes
  • Have a dance party – push back any tripping hazards and turn up the music
  • Sort buttons, change, nuts and bolts, or poker chips
  • Ask for help with meal prep – mixing ingredients, kneading dough, decorating cookies, shredding lettuce
  • Read a story aloud – articles from a magazine or chapters from a favorite book
  • Do a puzzle – age-appropriate and size-appropriate (pieces don’t need to be too small)
  • Play cards – Go Fish, sort the deck, build a card house
  • Look at old photos and reminisce – resist the urge to quiz, instead remind
  • Cut coupons
  • Dust
  • String Cheerios and put them outside for the birds
  • Look through a catalog – clothing, fishing, etc.
  • Search Pinterest for art and craft ideas – making something beautiful… or laugh over your Pinstrosity
  • Search YouTube for videos of favorite music artists and comedians