By Helen Calder

Many people visiting sick or elderly relatives, friends or neighbours are unsure what to do and say. It can feel quite awkward. Help is at hand! Here are some great activities for dementia and other sick patients so you have something to do during your visit, which will make it that much easier for both of you.

1. Bring a newspaper or magazine (preferably tabloid size for ease) and look at it together

2. Think of an amusing anecdote to recount of something that’s happened since your last visit.

3. Take some flowers and encourage the person you’re vising to arrange them in a vase, assisting as necessary. Talk about the names and colours of the flowers.

4. Autumn leaves are also something from outdoors that can be of interest.

5. Do something simple related to a hobby the person has/had e.g. stamp album, sewing, crochet, knitting, a jigsaw if not too hard, gardening (e.g. plant a bulb in a pot).

activities for dementia

6. Take a favourite food (subject to medical restrictions). Chocolate buttons are great for those experiencing swallowing difficulty as they melt in the mouth. Ice cream brought in a cool bag is often popular.

7. Get a tea, coffee or cold drink for you both to have together.

8. Visit at a meal time and sit with the person, help them to eat if that would be acceptable.

9. Read to the person: from a book. Perhaps you can read a chapter or a poem each time you visit

10. Look at a “picture”/coffee table type book together e.g. royal family, countryside, buildings

11. Listen to an audio book or podcast together

12. Look at photos together of family, friends, favourite places, holidays, old photos from earlier years.

13. Wedding photos are often particularly special and you may be able to pick out relatives and friends.

14. Look at recent letters and cards that have been sent and read the messages out

15. Read a diary or letters from the past.

16. A holiday journal and looking at the relevant holiday photos can be particularly fun, recounting the memories.

17. Play some favourite music: classical, pop or spiritual. Music seems to resonate well with people with dementia and often make them more alert and communicative. Just listening together could be top of your list of great activities for dementia sufferers.

18. Do something devotional if appropriate. Read a bible passage: a favourite, something encouraging or calming, the Psalms are particularly good, play a hymn on a kindle or similar device, read hymns and ask them to choose their favourites.

19. Watch a TV program together, especially something they enjoy eg sport, a serial

20. Listen to a brief radio programme together. You could use BBC Sounds for one previously broadcast

21. Offer to wipe their face and hands with a warm damp flannel (take a flannel soap & towel with you)

22. Offer a manicure/hand massage (take a flannel, towel, nail clippers & hand cream with you)

23. Rub body lotion gently into arms or legs (having sought permission first!)

24. Hold a hand or stroke a hand, arm or brow. Touch can be very soothing and comforting.

25. Use your mobile to phone a friend. Even if the person can’t speak hearing a familiar voice will be an encouragement. Using speaker phone may help so you can both hear the conversation.

26. Use Skype, Facetime, Alexa or WhatsApp to video call or a relative or friend so they can see them.

27. Go and sit somewhere together where you can watch the world go by: near an entrance or communal area.

28. Go for a wheelchair ride: Round the building, in the grounds/garden, to the care home/hospital/hospice café or communal lounge

activities for dementia

29. Take them out for a country drive (or even a town drive). The change of scene can be a real tonic. Talk about what you can both see.

30. Taking a kindle, tablet or iPad can be very useful for photos, music, books, video calls etc.

We hope you found this list of activities for dementia and other patients useful. Even if somebody is very sick, there is still lots you can do with them to make them feel better and cared for.

After a management career in the glass and brewing industries, Helen felt called to work in the Christian sector. She spent a year studying theology at St John’s College Nottingham where she particularly focussed on pastoral care of the dying and bereaved. In 1991 she was appointed as director of administration for All Souls Church, Langham Place. From 1999 to 2016 Helen worked at the Evangelical Alliance, since 2007 as executive director: finance and services. She has been a trustee of several Christian charities. She now has a portfolio career which includes mentoring and consultancy in the charity sector. She has spent many hours visiting elderly relatives is hospitals and nursing homes.

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Last Updated on August 13, 2023 by Editorial Staff

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