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10 Engaging Activities for Seniors with Dementia: Reduce Agitation and Boost Mood

activities for seniors with dementia

Engaging activities help seniors with Alzheimer’s or dementia

Everyone needs to feel engaged and entertained. Just because someone has Alzheimer’s or dementia doesn’t mean that need disappears.

Because of their cognitive decline, how seniors get that engagement may have to change. 

Activities with no right or wrong are highly recommended because they’re fun, satisfying, and give a much-needed sense of accomplishment. 

These type of activities can also be an effective alternative to using medications to reduce agitation, challenging behavior, and unhappy moods. 

We share a dozen recommendations from a geriatric nurse practitioner who’s experienced in dementia care.

Ann Kositsky, a Geriatric Nurse Practitioner at ElderConsult Geriatric Medicine, showed dozens of activities for seniors with dementia. For years, she’s used them to reduce anxiety, distract from challenging behavior, and bring joy to people with cognitive impairments.

We share 10 of her recommendations here.


These are more than simple children’s toys

Don’t be misled or discouraged by the appearance of these activities. Some may have been made for children, but the way older adults experience them is completely different.

For example, a toy tool box might allow dad to safely recreate happy memories of the home repairs he made to keep the house in great shape. A Saturday Morning Post puzzle could take your spouse back to their childhood. The singing puppy gives warm hugs and its cheerful song brings a smile to anyone’s face and will likely have you spontaneously clapping and singing along.

Even though these activities have been stereotyped and marketed as children’s toys, don’t let that stop you from offering them to your older adult. If an activity engages them, brings joy, and reduces challenging behaviors, who cares what the label says?

10 engaging activities for seniors with dementia or Alzheimer’s

activities for seniors with dementia

1. $8 Melissa and Doug 7-piece tool puzzle This 7-piece puzzle has a variety of chunky, easy-to-grasp tools.

activities for seniors with dementia

2. $12 Color and shape puzzle This is a colorful and fun puzzle with easily identifiable shapes and images.

3. $16 Cat hardcover book This hardcover book has thick, easy-to-turn pages and large beautiful pictures of all kinds of cats.

4. $17 Dog hardcover book This hardcover book has thick, easy-to-turn pages and large beautiful pictures of all kinds of dogs.

activities for seniors with dementia

5. $12 Wooden 24-piece tool box kit This 24-piece set includes wooden tools, nails, screws, nuts, and bolts.

activities for seniors with dementia

6. $15 26 Pack Sensory Fidget Toys This set includes 26 simple, touch-based activities that keep hands and minds busy in safe, soothing ways. Fidget toys are especially helpful for someone who’s anxious, pulls at their clothes, wrings their hands, or picks at their skin.

activities for seniors with dementia

7. $20 Deluxe latches board This well-crafted board is brightly colored and has polished metal locks, latches and clasps. Each door opens to has a fun picture.

activities for seniors with dementia

8. $19 Plastic nuts & bolts set with 64 pieces These brightly colored plastic nuts and bolts provide hours of safe fun. You can attach and detach the nuts and bolts or sort by color or shape.

activities for seniors with dementia

9. $29 My Little Puppy singing plush puppy This soft, cuddly puppy is 10″ tall and sings “If You’re Happy And You Know It.” The best part? It claps hands and ears along with the song! Batteries included.

activities for seniors with dementia

10. $94 Lock Box memory game This is a well-built hardwood box with 3 separate compartments, 10 doors, and 10 different latches. For extra fun, put snacks or small keepsakes inside the box for your older adult to discover.

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By DailyCaring Editorial Team Image: Circles Disability Support

All prices quoted were checked shortly before publication, but prices and availability change often and might not match what is found online. This article wasn’t sponsored, but does contain affiliate links. We never link to products for the sole purpose of making a commission. Product recommendations are based on our honest opinions. For more information, see How We Make Money.


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