7 Engaging Memory Care Activities

Meaningful Ways to Connect with a Loved One Living with Dementia 

Families and friends of those living with dementia will need to adapt while navigating this progressive journey. However, uncertainty of how best to relate can lead to fewer visits and less interaction – greatly impacting quality of life.  

The following information can provide guidance and suggestions to help better understand the disease as well as provide ideas for sharing enriching memory care activities. 

The Different Stages of Dementia

Although each individual can respond differently, there are three basic stages that can affect the experience of connecting: 

Early stages: individuals may remain independent, continue to work and live at home. Forgetting words or experiencing memory lapses may begin occurring. 

Middle stages: there can be increased difficulty in performing routine tasks or expressing needs and preferences. Personality changes may also occur. 

Later stages: symptoms are more pronounced and verbal conversations can be difficult. Changes in behavior and personality may continue and around-the-clock care will eventually be required. 

Source: The Alzheimer’s Association 

The Importance of Remaining Connected

Those living with dementia may withdraw socially at the same time that family and friends may hesitate to visit – often out of fear of saying or doing the wrong thing. Yet, sharing time and memory care activities can convey the critical sentiment that these relationships still matter.  

When planning time together, remember that personalizing the experience improves the opportunity for enjoyment. Consider abilities and preferences and talk with the primary caregiver for ideas, including what time of day is usually best for a visit.  

Preparing ahead of time with a few options and remaining flexible is always good advice. When interacting, it’s wise to take any cues from the individual. If a loved one appears restless or frustrated with an activity, try a new one, change the subject or wait for another day.  

Meeting those living with dementia where they cognitively are is essential. Avoid arguing over details or putting them on the spot to remember a specific day or event. Try to join them in the conversation but the goal is to help them discover a moment of happiness or caring, while feeling comfortable and relaxed.

7 Memory Care Activities to Share

The following memory care activities can provide a good start to a great visit:  

1. Create a memory box together 

Gather a box or scrapbook, as well as objects and photographs that represent fond memories or pastimes. Create the box together and see if it stimulates recollections. When finished, this snapshot or portrayal of the person can be revisited by the individual or shared with other residents, staff and visitors. 

2. Listen to your favorite music and sing along 

Music can spark memories while also helping individuals relax and experience an improvement in their mood, according to research. Even those who struggle to recall a family member’s name may be able to remember all the words to a favorite song. Consider bringing in a treasured type of music and encourage them to sing along or reminisce if appropriate.  

3. Browse through time 

Old photo albums from the past can be a wonderful way to connect and enjoy any memories that may be rekindled. Listen carefully to stories that might be shared. Ask questions to encourage reminiscing but avoid causing anxiety if a memory is lost. If they can’t recall a certain name or day, you can fill it in or simply move along. 

4. Play a game or enjoy an activity together 

Did your loved one enjoy playing games? Always consider abilities but if the answer is yes, bring in a puzzle with larger pieces or a favorite board game. Other options might include arriving with a box of objects to be sorted or to explore the sensation of different textures. Dancing to a favorite song or joining you in chair exercises can work as well.  

5. Watch a classic movie or read from a favorite author 

Consider the person’s preferences, but if a movie buff, take advantage of this memory care activity and bring in one to watch together – whether it’s a mystery, romance or comedy. You might also want to bring along a book from a favorite author and read short passages or discuss any ideas that surface. 

6. Treat the person to an individual spa day 

Would your loved one appreciate the personal touch? If so, consider providing a personal spa day as a thoughtful memory care activity. Bring in scented lotions to provide a warm and gentle manicure or pedicure. Gently massage their neck or back to convey feelings of love and compassion. Even the act of holding hands can be healing for the soul. 

7. Take a walk or drive 

If permitted and the individual would enjoy the activity, consider taking a walk outside. Enjoy the sunshine and a breath of fresh air. Admire the brilliant flowers or become people- or bird-watchers. If possible, take a drive through the old neighborhoods, visit a local park or take in the great view of the changing colors that nature provides.

At Presbyterian Village North, we support both the individual and the family as they navigate the dementia journey.

We focus on the quality of life for our residents with a staff specially trained in the best practices of dementia care. Residents make their homes in private apartments while benefiting from the daily interactions with others and participating in our exercise, music, art and cognitive therapies.

We also provide the following services:

  • Chef-prepared cuisine—3 meals per day with varied, all-day dining options
  • Security system in all buildings ensures protection and safety
  • Secure entry/exit/windows in our Memory Support neighborhood
  • Secure Outdoor Patio in our Memory Support neighborhood
  • Safety checks every two hours as needed
  • Emergency call system with pendant
  • Escort assistance as needed to and from dining and activities
  • Convenient access to mobile healthcare services onsite including dental, podiatry, optometry, audiology, mobile x-ray and lab, and dietician
  • Full onsite pharmacy
  • 24/7 onsite licensed nurse

Presbyterian Village North is a compassionate resource for your loved one and your family. Please call 214-355-9015 if you have any questions or would like to schedule a personal visit to our community.