Finding the right daily activities for individuals living with memory loss is a crucial component in maintaining their cognitive and emotional health.
Specialised memory loss activities can help to:
- Engage the mind.
- Maintain a sense of identity.
- Allow opportunities for meaningful connection with loved ones.
Research indicates that cognitive stimulation through such activities can aid in overall wellbeing and even help slow down cognitive decline.
If you have been on the hunt for memory loss support activities for memory loss or dementia, look no further! We have written this article to outline a series of memory loss activities that focus on cognitive stimulation, engagement, and overall quality of life.
As a bonus, we're offering FREE printable activity sheets to get you started. Keep reading to discover more activities for memory loss for the elderly and seniors with dementia.
What can you do for memory loss in the elderly?
Memory loss can be a challenging experience, not only for the person who is going through it but also for their family, friends, and caregivers. But, it's important to remember that life is made up of moments, and every moment presents an opportunity for joy, engagement, and meaningful connection.
Addressing memory loss isn't just about managing symptoms, it's also about enhancing quality of life through meaningful engagement. Cognitive activities like puzzles, brain teasers, and even simple maths questions can enhance neural connections, giving the brain a much-needed workout.
Importantly, engaging in these kinds of activities can significantly reduce feelings of isolation in everyday life. Memory loss can often lead to a sense of detachment and loneliness, but participating in activities creates opportunities for social interaction, which can improve mood and emotional wellbeing.
Free Printable Activities for Dementia & Seniors with Memory Loss
We're so excited to share with you our free printable activities for dementia that you can use to engage and stimulate the minds of those you care about. Printables offer the benefits of being convenient and portable, allowing you to take activities wherever you go, be it a doctor's waiting room, a family visit or a quiet afternoon at home.
This activity offers a fun and interactive way to tap into long-term memories related to various professions. It stimulates cognitive function and invites meaningful dialogue around past experiences and interests. By engaging in this activity, your loved one may find a renewed sense of purpose and relive fond memories connected to their work life or aspirations.
- Large thick card
- Maps and/or images
- Memories gathered from the person or their friends and family - use this printable guide to help you
- Interview the person or talk to their friends and family to get as much information as possible about their work. Gather the memories in a quiet spot over a few weeks, taking your time with a cuppa and some biscuits
- Collect photos of their workplace, a map of where they worked and stock images (e.g. someone serving in a café or working in an office) etc
- Stick the workplace photo and map onto the middle of the thick white card, and put the other images around it to create a collage
- Write down some of the memories, names of colleagues, things they liked or disliked etc on the blank bits of the card
- Put the finished card in their room where they can easily see it
- Create another session where you bring everyone together with their memory collages and discuss them
This activity focuses on sensory and emotional stimulation through a series of questions and prompts that encourage reminiscence. It serves as a smooth conversation starter and allows for an intimate bonding experience. By sharing stories and memories, you can help elevate your loved one's mood and even enhance their emotional wellbeing.
- A dice
- A set of category questions relating to the numbers on the dice - use this printable guide to help you
- Find a quiet spot to sit down, away from other distractions
- Pass your dice to your first player and ask them to throw it
- Take a look at the number and then pick a related question, for example, the number 1 will relate to the category School & Childhood
- Ask a question from that category, giving your player lots of time to talk through their memory and follow it wherever it leads them
- If you’re playing as a group and somebody else feels inspired to share something, then make sure you let them, even if it’s not their turn
- Once your player has finished, move on to the next person and ask them to throw the dice
- Carry on for as long as everyone’s having fun
- And don’t forget to enjoy a cuppa or two while you’re playing!
These two printable activities are just a taste of what Relish has to offer! If you find these resources beneficial and are looking for more, we invite you to sign up with your email address here. You'll gain access to a plethora of additional activities designed to engage, stimulate, and bring joy to those living with dementia and memory loss.
Activities to Help with Memory Loss
There are a wide range of activities that can help support memory loss, including:
Engaging the senses
Sensory experiences can be incredibly beneficial activities for people with dementia or memory loss. Even simple activities like listening to music, smelling a familiar scent, or touching a soft fabric can evoke pleasant memories and emotions.
Here are some activities we’ve created specifically to engage the senses:
- Musical Interlude - Take it in turns to listen and enjoy your favourite songs.
- Walk Back Through Time - Smell different scents to evoke past moments.
- Sense & Feel The Fabrics - Touch familiar fabrics and chat about what they bring up.
Browse more sensory activities here.
Enjoying arts and crafts
Arts and crafts aren't just fun, they can be therapeutic as well! Focusing on a task like painting, knitting, or even working with buttons can provide an enormous sense of accomplishment. It's a chance to tap into quiet mindfulness, too, as well as stimulating cognition.
Here are some arts and crafts activities we recommend:
- Paint A Masterpiece - Emulate the colours and shapes of Van Gogh’s sunflowers!
- Button Art - Create a beautiful piece of art by reusing old buttons.
Browse more arts and crafts activities here.
Reminiscence can serve as a beautiful way to connect with dementia patients. Flipping through old photos, watching home videos, or simply sharing stories can stir positive feelings and even spark conversations. You never know what you may learn!
Here are some ideas for reminiscing:
- Favourite Holidays - Revisit holiday destinations by flipping through old snaps.
- Reminisce With Me - Spend dedicated time talking about the things you love.
- All About Me - Celebrate the unique things that make you who you are.
Browse more reminiscence activities here.
Staying physically active is crucial for everyone’s wellbeing, but it’s especially vital for people living with memory loss. Simple exercises like stretching, walking, or even seated yoga can significantly impact mood and overall health.
Here are some activity ideas centred around being more active:
- Daily Routine Movement - Do a simple exercise routine based on everyday tasks.
- Just Strolling Along - Take a little walk outdoors and discuss what you can see.
Browse more activities to stay active here.
Cooking and Baking
If your loved one used to enjoy cooking or baking, why not bring back that joy? Engaging in familiar activities can bring back a sense of self and accomplishment. With the appropriate supervision and kitchen tools designed for safety, whipping up a tart, cookies, or a dessert can be a fulfilling experience.
Here are some of our recommended recipes:
- Jam Tarts - Bake some delicious jam tarts quickly and simply with this recipe.
- Pumpkin Chip Cookies - Get in the autumn spirit with these delicious cookies.
- Fruity Meringue Nests - A lovely light pudding, ideal for spring and summer days.
Browse more food-related activities here.
Every person is different, and it’s important to tailor activities to your loved one's interests and abilities. Personalised activities help people with memory loss engage on a deeper level but can also make them feel valued and understood.
Relish offers a range of products based on interest and dementia stage that allow you to select a mix of activities that will resonate most with your loved one.
Adapting Activities for Different Stages of Memory Loss
People with dementia’s experience is varied and unique, so the level of engagement with activities can differ based on the severity of their condition. It's essential to be mindful of this when choosing activities.
Here are some tips to help you adapt activities for different stages of dementia:
Early Stages of Dementia
- Bear in mind that people in the early stages of memory loss may still enjoy complex puzzles or strategy games that they were fond of before.
- You may want to read short stories or news articles together and then discuss them and share opinions.
- Painting, knitting. playing a musical instrument and other skill-based hobbies can usually still be enjoyed at this stage.
Mid Stages of Dementia
- It may be a good idea to switch to simpler versions of puzzles or games. For example, if they loved chess, maybe a game of checkers would be more suitable now.
- Utilise picture books, simple crafts, music playlists of their favourite songs and other audio-visual stimuli to engage them.
- Do short-term memory exercises to jog the memory and help stay mentally active.
Later Stages of Dementia
Focus on sensory experiences like smelling different scents, feeling various textures, or listening to calming sounds. Relish's sensory products are also excellent for this.
Prioritise touch with gentle hand massages or brushing their hair, which can provide comfort and a sense of connection.
Simple sorting activities like sorting coins or buttons by size or colour can offer a sense of accomplishment.
General Tips for Adapting Activities
- Be Flexible: If an activity isn't engaging them or is causing frustration, it's okay to switch gears and try something else.
- Follow Their Lead: Pay attention to their mood and interest level. It’s not about completing the activity successfully, it's about the process and the engagement.
- Celebrate Small Wins: Always celebrate the efforts and small victories. A smile or a shared laugh can be the most significant win of all.
By scaling and adapting activities to fit the capabilities of your loved one, you can ensure that they stay engaged, stimulated, and most importantly, happy.
Begin Incorporating Memory Activities in Your Care Routine
Incorporating specialised activities into the daily care routine of individuals living with memory loss or dementia is not just beneficial—it's transformative. These activities provide essential cognitive stimulation to keep the mind active and enhance emotional wellbeing by creating opportunities for meaningful interaction and connection.
Relish’s activity bank is a game-changer for people caring for loved ones with memory loss. With a plethora of free activities and printable resources tailored to various stages of dementia and memory loss, you'll find a treasure trove of options that can be seamlessly integrated into your care routine. Simply sign up with your email for free access to all activities.