Dementia Activities

Activities to Engage Seniors with Alzheimer’s or Dementia

Residential assisted living is a great place to create activities to engage seniors with dementia.

There are many unique ways to entertain seniors experiencing Alzheimer’s disease. Many years ago, terms like dementia and memory care didn’t exist. When people reached a certain age, if they exhibited certain behaviors associated with dementia-related symptoms, they were called crazy and admitted into institutions. Now things are different.

There are over 400 different types of dementia, according to dementia awareness organization, Understand Together. Dementia is an umbrella term used to describe a set of symptoms and behaviors that occur when the brain stops working properly. This results in the loss of independent function for that person. What are the best ways to help seniors with Alzheimer’s?


After an elderly loved one is diagnosed with dementia, life can feel like a constant riddle.  Alzheimer’s makes it impossible to remember essential components for activities of daily living. There are several stages of the disease. A variety of tools are soothing and enjoyable for these individuals to prevent upsetting episodes.

6-Pack Dementia Care Tool Kit

  1. Perform activities with no right or wrong response;
  2. Avoid activities that create a desired completed outcome or result;
  3. Redirect interests that remind seniors of previous pastimes that can potentially induce aggravation;
  4. Prepare to make immediate modifications;
  5. Stimulating activities, such as self-expression and social interactions, are especially beneficial; and
  6. Create opportunities for social connections to stir memories and reminisce, like the following examples:
    • Art – watercolors, clay, colored pencils, beads, etc.,
    • Gardening – Put together a small garden box, plant seeds, and tend to the plants as they grow,
    • Activities of Daily Living – Implement purposeful tasks when possible, such as folding clothing, wiping off the table, sorting silverware, sweeping the floor, etc.,
    • Cooking – Work together to prepare recipes, rolling out cookie dough, stirring together ingredients, and of course taste-testing,
    • Social Interaction – Reminisce over family photographs, movies, unwind and create new memories and pleasant moments.

Everyone needs to feel engaged and entertained, even when diagnosed with various forms of dementia. The need to engage in ordinary life activities does not disappear because of a dementia diagnosis. It’s important to remember that how seniors engage will likely change.

The number one priority for caregivers is to avoid activities that impose the idea of an individual being right or wrong. This will help entertainment remain fun and satisfying. It is not uncommon for individuals with dementia to be prescribed medications to reduce agitation, challenging behavior, and unhappy moods.


Senior toys, simpler 100-piece or fewer puzzles and other forms of entertainment become a necessary and supportive means of care for these senior citizens. Toys for the elderly accommodate specific needs that exceed typical toys for children. Don’t be misled or discouraged by the appearance of these activities. Although some of these toys are designed with children in mind, the way they are used for older adults is completely different.

For example, toy toolboxes, simple puzzles and other stereotypical activities accompanied by warm hugs and cheerful music stir happy memories. Despite the marketing strategies that label these various forms of entertainment as toys for tots, caregivers can still find unique ways to use them. When you discover activities that engage the elderly, bring joy, and reduce stress, disregard the labels.

Engage and Entertain with Fun Puzzles at the Right Level:

  • Simpler 100-Piece puzzles for mild cognitive impairment,
  • Puzzles for people with Alzheimer’s or dementia,
  • Puzzles for people with vision impairment, and 
  • Custom photo puzzles.


According to the Residential Assisted Living National Association (RALNA), properly engaging and entertaining seniors with dementia helps improves their quality of life and as well as changing the public discourse on the reputation of assisted living in general. Alzheimer’s disease was discovered in 1906. However, cognitive measurement scales weren’t created until 1968.

By 1974, Congress established the National Institute on Aging that continues to support Alzheimer’s research. In 1983, November was declared National Alzheimer’s Month to raise greater awareness of the disease. In 2015, about 46.8 million people worldwide were diagnosed with some form of dementia, and every 3 seconds another individual is diagnosed, according to The Global Voice on DementiaThe Center for Disease and Control indicates that these numbers are rapidly increasing. They project an increase of dementia cases to about 75.6 million in 2030 and 135.5 million in 2050.

RALNA recognizes that dementia care is a huge crisis as well as a huge opportunity for change. This membership-based organization provides resources and support to the residential assisted living industry.

Membership grants access to group purchasing power, discounts with over 200 RAL vendors, legal advocacy, industry marketing, educational services, memory care training, certifications, marketing, and relevant newsletters. Joining allows owners and caregivers to gain valuable need-to-know hot topics and pro-tips to highlight trending data.

What are the best ways to help seniors with Alzheimer’s?

If you found the information on this article valuable, you’ll find enormous benefits by becoming a member of our community. Visit this page to become a RALNA Member.