Some ideas for ways family/whānau members to help pass the time, while supporting a person with a dementia diagnosis.

Staying as active as possible is important. Assisting the person you are caring for to participate in activities regularly will assist with maintaining cognitive skills, reducing their anxiety, frustration, and may reduce aggressive behaviours. Give simple, clear instructions, and be prepared for people to assist the person to engage in the activities. Try and establish a daily routine, ensure the activities are safe, calming and most of all fun! Focus on enjoyment, not achievement.

Don’t be afraid to try again, at another time if the person is initially reluctant to engage in the activity.

Take each day as it comes, and care partners please remember to give yourselves routine breaks, whenever possible.

Indoor Activities

  • Favourite, familiar board games and card games. E.g.: Picture Dominoes, Snakes and Ladders.
  • Watch TV-previous reruns, videos, Sky. Watch family videos. Set up digital photo frame and have photos running through it.
  • Easy listening radio stations or whatever type of radio the person usually prefers.
  • Assist with simple baking/cooking.
  • Seated exercises (lots of You tube segments)
  • Simple art and craft projects.
  • Sort items: e.g., buttons, contents of cutlery drawer, nails/bolts.
  • Fold small easy to physically manage items: face cloths, tea-towels, pillowcases. Fold serviettes into triangles.
  • Wipe benches. Polish silver/brass objects. Peg washing on indoor/outdoor lines. Fold washing. Sort laundry, including socks.
  • Look through family photo albums together.
  • Keep in contact with grandchildren/family/friends: set up regular phone calls/videos. Ask people to ring the person you are caring and/or send letters/emails/children’s artwork, etc.
  • Sensory experiences: hand/foot massages using hand/body lotions, smelling flowers from garden, set up a rummage box that contains things the person may be interested in.

Outdoor Activities

  • Wash cars. Rake leaves, sweep paths/driveways. Wash windows.
  • Plant seeds, herb gardens, smell flowers.
  • Sit outside for coffee breaks and meals.
  • Feed birds.
  • Daily walk to letter box to check mail delivery.

Finally, Be Kind to Yourself.

You are human. None of us are perfect-especially during these times at home.

Take care of yourself, as well as your family member who has dementia.

Feel free to contact us at Dementia Waikato if you need to talk about any issues you are having with the person you are caring for. Dementia Waikato staff are all working from home and can speak with you on the phone 07 929 4042 or via email

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