20 Holiday Activities for Loved Ones with Dementia

How to plan meaningful activities

Holiday Activities for Loved Ones with Dementia

The holidays provide time to reflect and reminisce with loved ones, especially with those who have dementia. Revisiting family traditions or engaging in a meaningful activity is a great way to spend quality time together.

Although it might be hard not to focus on the effects dementia has had on a loved one, experts recommend focusing on opportunities to engage in meaningful activities together. Consider each new day an opportunity to make memories together and use the holiday season to reconnect with your loved one. 

Before You Begin

Making the most of your time together as a family this holiday season starts by planning meaningful activities with your loved one who has dementia. Be intentional about the activities you select and consider how you might need to modify the activity to set you and your loved one up for success.

According to The Alzheimer’s Association, participating in activities can help a person with dementia by:

  • improving quality of life
  • reducing behaviors such as agitation or wandering
  • providing a sense of accomplishment, purpose, usefulness, or engagement
  • enhancing a sense of dignity and self-esteem
  • providing a sense of normality

Even for those with middle or late stage Alzheimer’s or dementia, spending time with a family member or friend can be meaningful even though the activity may not look exactly the same as it did before.

We recommend using Teepa Snow’s Living GemsTM model to identify your loved one’s abilities and then pick or tailor activities to create a meaningful opportunity to spend quality time together.

Before You Begin

Think about interests and hobbies your loved one has enjoyed in the past and activities they might enjoy.

Still not sure where to start? Here’s a list of 15 ideas to get you started:

  1. Make a playlist of your loved one’s favorite holiday music to listen to with them
  2. Look through photo albums and let your loved one select pictures to create a scrapbook page or shadow box with 
  3. Let your loved one select from a variety of holiday cards and write them out for friends and family together
  4. Create a keepsake ornament together
  5. Spend some time in the kitchen baking some holiday goodies
  6. Collect a variety of different fabrics with different textures, different scents, and other items your loved one might enjoy sorting through to create a sensory box
  7. Play a card game together
  8. Watch a favorite holiday movie together
  9. Create a collage with pictures your loved one picks out in old magazines
  10. Put a puzzle together
  11. Visit the local humane society and play with a furry friend
  12. Plant an indoor garden
  13. Feed the birds together
  14. Have a tea party
  15. Pick a painting activity 
  16. Give your loved one a manicure, complete with scented hand lotion
  17. Sing holiday songs together or play them on the piano
  18. Reminisce about your favorite holiday memories
  19. Try a new recipe together
  20. Read a favorite book together
Spending time together around the holidays, even when a loved one has dementia, can be some of the fondest memories you’ll make. With a little planning and flexibility, you're sure to make some memorable moments together. 

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