Dementia Activities: 5 Fun, No-Fail Projects

Whether your senior is in memory care, a nursing home or at home with you, you know the challenge of finding dementia-friendly activities you both enjoy.

Gardener. Photographer. Former Dentist. 80-Year-Old with Dementia.

A creative perfectionist with a solid sense of humor and a huge heart. 

Loved to keep busy.

Sound like someone you know?

Meet John–our dad. 

When his body and mind prevented him from doing all the things he did before, we dug deep to find worthwhile activities.

Here are 5 wildly satisfying projects we pursued with our dad after his traumatic brain injury. All of them can be enjoyed while sitting and by someone with compromised fine motor and cognitive skills. Download your free guide to 5 Fun Activities for Seniors with Dementia.

  1. Coin sorting

When there’s a lot that cannot be made sense of or organized in one’s mind, sorting coins can be very satisfying. 

  • Senior engagement time = 5-60 min. 
  • Supplies: A pile of various coins. Tray for sorting and rolling coins OR clear plastic cups. Optional: paper sleeves for rolled. Use this if you want all the coin rolling gadgets.
  • Helpful: I kept a plastic container of coins and (when my dad wasn’t looking) kept putting the coins we’d rolled back to resort and roll. 
  1. “No Fail” Watercolor

My dad was frustrated when he couldn’t get the paint color right or would paint outside the lines. These watercolor sheets have picture outlines that come alive with color when they get wet. Once dry, they are reusable. 

  • Senior engagement time = 10-30 min. 
  • Supplies:  Reusable water painting sheets. Water container (low and heavy works well so it’s not tipped over), watercolor paint brush, flat work surface, a few paper towels.
  1. “No Fail” Puzzles

These puzzles are wonderful for people who aren’t successful or even interested in typical  jigsaw puzzles. My dad would match them and his roommate would just stack matching pieces on top of one another. My son made his own designs. 

  • Senior engagement time = 10-30 min. 
  • Supplies: Puzzle, flat work surface.

I’ll never forget the look of pleasure on my dad’s face when he dug his hands into the potting soil. He loved to garden and working with the dirt and plants, even in this simple project, was very rewarding for him.

John potting some flowers after he experienced a traumatic brain injury.
  1. Potted Gardening

I’ll never forget the look of pleasure on my dad’s face when he dug his hands into the potting soil. He loved to garden and working with the dirt and plants, even in this simple project, was very rewarding for him. 

  • Senior engagement time = 30-60 min. 
  • Supplies: Large garbage bag or tarp (to cover flat work surface), a few small plants to and new pot(s) to transplant them into, extra potting dirt, spade shovel, small pitcher filled with water. This mini indoor gardening set and carrier provides simple tools and easy clean up. Optional: gardening gloves, apron.
  1. Pasta Making 

My son helped my dad feed the rolled/flattened dough through the press while my dad cranked the handle. It was a great group project with the satisfaction of getting to eat fresh pasta afterwards. If you don’t have a crank pasta machine, they aren’t too expensive or perhaps you can borrow one. 

  • Senior engagement time = 1 hr.
  • Supplies: Crank pasta maker, fresh pasta dough (premade pizza dough works too), extra all purpose flour, aprons, cookie sheet (for drying noodles), flat work surface.
  • Helpful: Fresh pasta should be refrigerated and used within a few days.

Save these ideas by downloading your free guide to 5 Fun Activities for Seniors with Dementia.

May you find joy in loving one another well!

Note: We recommend these products because we loved them for our own dad and we wanted to save you time. Some of them may earn us a bit when you click on the link.

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