It’s important in dementia care that we continue to stimulate and challenge the mind, as well as promote socialisation. However, family and carers can often be at a loss regarding which activities are suitable. Your loved one is also likely to need activities which can be done from a chair, at a table. Using our experience running an outstanding dementia care setting in the south west, we’ve brought together our top 15 table-top activities which can be enjoyed by those with dementia.
Adult colouring has gained popularity in recent years. It can be a wonderful activity done peacefully at a table with someone with dementia. If the individual is particularly frail, or struggles with their eyesight, we recommend choosing children’s colouring pages rather than the more complicated adult designs.
No doubt an activity they loved as children, or perhaps did with their own children, decorating biscuits has no ‘right or wrong’. However, it can be enjoyable and result in a sense of achievement. Similarly, you can make dough in advance and together roll it out and cut the shapes.
Allow your loved one to feel physically cared for and gain connection. A manicure is a wonderful way of showing care.
Playing with colour and being creative through painting can help an individual to engage with a process.
There are a wide variety of board games which are ideal for those suffering with dementia. See our suggestions here. Other good ideas include Chess, Quirkle, Reminiscence and Name 5.
Indulging in afternoon tea is a sociable activity with roots steeped in memories. This can therefore be ideal for the elderly and dementia patients alike. Additionally, small finger food and be easier to share socially for those worried about eating in public due to frailty, or who have a diminished appetite.
Jigsaw puzzles are excellent tools for keeping the mind active. Choose puzzles which contain a wide variation in colour, with reasonably large pieces. Additionally, if you have a jigsaw folder or roll, then this is an activity which can be picked up and done in short bursts. It also leads to an enormous sense of achievement.
Bingo is a fun and sociable game which requires individuals to be attentive. Depending on the severity of the dementia symptoms it may be necessary for a carer to play with the individual, helping them to follow the game.
Again, with flower arranging there is no right or wrong. However, it allows an individual to use a range of senses whilst also engaging in a creative activity. Additionally, the resulting floral display itself can lift spirits.
Depending on how an individual is displaying memory loss and confusion, some card games are more suitable than others. Choose larger cards and stick to age-old games which are likely familiar to the individual from the past, such as Bridge, Spades and Old Maid. You can also buy card holders if the individual is struggling to hold the cards in a fan themselves, enabling them to retain their independence in the game for as long as possible.
Playing games on a tablet can actually be very instinctive to pick up, as well as ensuring there are no fiddly pieces to drop or lose, and yet the individual can be absorbed in a table-top activity. Solitaire, Bejewelled, Candy Crush Saga and Toon Blast are all ideas to try.
Providing pencils and paper and sitting with an individual to simply have a go at drawing can be a peaceful activity which stimulates discussion.
Ideal for individuals benefitting from Reminiscence Therapy, scrapbooking allows an individual to bring together small items and papers from their past. The result is like a journal which can be used to prompt memories and facilitate discussion around topics which feel secure and more remembered, rather than more confusing recent events.
Image source: Paperchase
Similarly, sitting around a table and looking through old photos together is a wonderful dementia-friendly activity which promotes discussion and a sense of self-worth.
Depending on the stage and severity of dementia symptoms, crosswords and Sudoku are excellent ways of exercising the brain. Often an activity familiar from the past, you may be surprised at what the individual achieves.
It is vital with dementia sufferers to stimulate the mind whilst also offering security and reassurance. Doing many of these activities provide safe structure to engaging with an individual who may easily be confused or overwhelmed. Take their lead on how much hands-on help they need, and encourage them to have a go.