Activities for People with Dementia Across the Stages

November 8, 2023
August 12, 2023
Posted by
Bre'anna Wilson
August 12, 2023
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This blog post will provide helpful insights about the different stages of dementia that could help guide you in choosing the best activities for your partner living with dementia.

The most important thing to remember for all activities is that they should be individualized and based on your partner's interests and abilities.

To listen to this blog post in podcast format, listen to the podcast episode above.

Early Stages of Dementia

Can usually:

  • Follow 2-3 step directions
  • Read instructions but may need help following them accurately
  • Learn new things with repeated practice
  • Socialize well, but they may need extra time to find the right words
  • Walk pretty well

Their procedural memory is typically still intact.

Biggest thing to keep in mind: They usually have impaired judgment and decreased safety awareness requiring at least distant supervision.

Activity ideas:

  • Any housework type of activity
  • Reminiscent activities (verbal or visual)
  • Familiar card/board games

Moderate Stages of Dementia

Can usually:

  • Read short, simple phrases
  • Follow simple one step directions
  • Tell shapes and colors apart as far as their visual presentation
  • Walk, but they may be more unsteady or require an adaptive device or just walk a lot slower
  • Sing even when words are lost

They can are typically really good with gross motor movements and using their hands to manipulate objects as long it doesn't require heavy fine motor skills. They are also typically really good with tasks that require repetitive movements.

Biggest things to keep in mind:

  • Their attention span typically drastically decreases meaning they will likely require more cues to participate or stay engaged
  • May not always recognize an object or its purpose
  • May experience visual changes visual changes and only really notice and see what's directly in front of them

Activity ideas:

  • Repetitive gross motor activities (kicking or tossing a ball, wiping a table, or rolling out dough)
  • Craft activities that take advantage of repetitive motions (painting or sanding)
  • Sorting and matching activities
  • Sing-along type of activities.

Late Stages of Dementia

Can usually:

  • Process and respond to environmental stimuli through their senses, it just takes longer
  • Still see and hear to some degree unless they have other comorbidities

They may not be able to say too many words, if any at all. Their balance and stability may not be too great, so they may be heavily reliant on adaptive equipment if they can still walk, or they may require support to sit upright or even hold their head up or they may be completely bed bound.

They may or may not still have some gross motor abilities that would enable them to move their body voluntarily.

Biggest thing to keep in mind: We will have to tap into the senses and focus on creating an experience. There will typically be no definitive beginning or end to the activity.

Activity ideas:

  • Bird or squirrel feeder
  • Fish tank
  • Lighting a candle or using wax melts or essential oils
  • Foods or drink with a strong herbal or spice taste
  • Soft music
  • Wanted touch (massage, hand holding)
  • Therapeutic dolls or pets
  • Playing instruments that can be shook or tapped

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