As a physical therapist who works with many dementia patients, caregivers and family members frequently ask me for ideas on things they can do at home.

Keeping a person with dementia engaged and stimulated is extremely important for their health and quality of life. Below, I have compiled 101 activities that are often enjoyable and beneficial for those with dementia.

Feel free to download or print the pdf version of the 101 Things to do with dementia patients attached at the end of this guide.

Cognitive Stimulation Activities

  1. Sort coins or buttons by size, color or shape
  2. Put together jigsaw puzzles with large pieces
  3. Play simple board games like checkers, dominoes or tic-tac-toe
  4. Leaf through magazines and discuss the pictures
  5. Reminisce while looking through old photo albums
  6. Play card games like war, go fish or memory/concentration
  7. Listen to music, sing songs, play simple instruments like tambourines or maracas
  8. Do crossword or word search puzzles
  9. Play ‘I spy’ describing objects in the room
  10. Have guests over to socialize if the person is up for it

Sensory Activities

  1. Look at nature books with rich illustrations or through the window
  2. Listen to nature sounds recordings of birds, waves or wind
  3. Engage senses with scented lotions, Fresh flowers, favorite treats
  4. Stroke or brush a pet, or watch aquarium fish
  5. Organize beads, coins or textured fabrics by touch
  6. Give a hand massage with scented lotion
  7. Walk barefoot on grass, sand or textured mats
  8. Sit outside and observe surroundings, nature or people
List of Things to do with dementia patients

Creative Arts Activities

  1. Color in adult coloring books or blank paper
  2. Paint simple pictures with watercolors or acrylics
  3. Work with modeling clay, playdough or finger paint
  4. Glue items like pasta, beans, felt onto paper
  5. Decorate cards to give family and friends
  6. Weave yarn, ribbons or strips of fabric through cardboard slits
  7. Make simple flower arrangements from yard or purchased stems
  8. Play relaxing nature CDs or put flowers/plants around room while creating art

Download caregiver checklist

Physical Exercise Activities

  1. Do seated exercises like marching legs or arm raises
  2. Use exercise bands for resistance training
  3. Play balloon volleyball while seated
  4. Toss/catch large balls or balloons
  5. Walk outdoors or in malls for people watching
  6. Do chair yoga adapted for dementia patients
  7. Dance to favorite music during activity times
  8. Walk on marked nature trails through parks/gardens
  9. Participate in specialized dementia exercise classes
  10. Ride adult tricycles outdoors with supervision

Reminiscing Activities

  1. Discuss past personal experiences and memories
  2. Cook or bake favorite childhood recipes
  3. Listen to music popular when they were young
  4. Watch classic old movies and discuss memories triggered
  5. Read classic books or stories they enjoyed as children
  6. Look through high school or wedding photo albums
  7. Talk about fond memories of parenting and grandparenting
  8. Share cultural traditions around holidays food or customs
  9. Visit childhood neighborhoods and share memory stories

Gardening Activities

  1. Plant flower seeds in pots and track growth daily
  2. Arrange freshly cut flowers from garden in vases
  3. Water houseplants or garden plants
  4. Prune safe soft-leaved houseplants or outdoor bushes
  5. Pick fruits/veggies from garden or fruit trees
  6. Arrange colorful fallen leaves into collages
  7. Grow indoor herb garden with basil, oregano, parsley
  8. Press colorful fallen leaves in telephone books
  9. Make birdfeeders from pinecones coated with peanut butter and birdseed

Cooking and Baking Activities

  1. Make no-bake cookies, rice crispy treats or fruit pies
  2. Measure out ingredients for easy cold salads
  3. Snap green beans, peel potatoes or carrots
  4. Whisk ingredients in a bowl or mix cookie dough
  5. Set or neatly decorate tables for meals
  6. Dry dishes or polish cutlery after meals
  7. Mix up cold beverages like lemonade or fruit smoothies
  8. Prepare fruits for fruit salad such as washing apples
  9. Roll pie crust dough or knead bread dough

Organizing, Sorting and Folding

  1. Fold towels and napkins from the laundry
  2. Match socks from the laundry pile
  3. Organize drawers or shelves by rearranging items
  4. Sort beads, buttons, coins or paperclips by size/color
  5. Stack plates or frisbees into neat piles
  6. Count out loud objects like beans or stickers into groups
  7. Sort a deck of playing cards by suit or number
  8. Replace items into the correct home spaces after use

Simple Crafts

  1. String large beads, pool noodles or straw pieces
  2. Cut shapes out of thick craft foam with scissors
  3. Glue popsicle sticks into picture frames and decorate
  4. Stick stickers onto paper to make scenes or designs
  5. Tear colorful magazines into small pieces for collages
  6. Color with sidewalk chalk on pavement or paper
  7. Hole punch shapes from colored paper
  8. Decorate ready-made cards for various occasions
  9. Apply stickers to envelopes and paper lunch bags

Household Chore Activities

  1. Sweep floors with a small broom and dustpan
  2. Use a spray bottle of water to gently water houseplants
  3. Polish shoes or furniture using a soft brush and nontoxic polish
  4. Wipe off tables or kitchen counters
  5. Pair socks from the clean laundry
  6. Fold dish towels or napkins from the laundry
  7. Load dishes carefully into the dishwasher after meals
  8. Hand-wash plastic dishes at a sink with warm soapy water
  9. Simple toy cleanup tasks putting items into bins

One-on-One Social Visiting

  1. Look through past photo albums together
  2. Receive hand massages with lotion
  3. Have nails filed and painted by volunteers
  4. Do their hair, styling it gently how they like
  5. Apply makeup slowly and carefully if desired
  6. Enjoy aromatherapy hand massages
  7. Listen to calming music CDs while resting
  8. Have religious passages read aloud if requested
  9. Have a ‘tea party’ with tea in real china cups
  10. Pet therapy sessions with approved animals


  1. Go along on brief errand outings to stores
  2. Take community dementia day program outings to gardens, museums or libraries

I hope these 101 activity suggestions give you lots of options to try that match the interests and abilities of your loved one with dementia. Please let me know if you have any other activity questions. Wishing you lots of pleasant days engaging with your family member or friend through their journey.

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