Posts Tagged activities for men with dementia

Break Some Geodes


Geodes are stones that have a cavity that is lined with crystals or minerals. They are fun to look at, but even more fun to break open! Kits such as the one below can be bought either at major box stores, such as Target or Walmart in the kids or craft aisle, or online on sites such as amazon. These kits are great for men with moderate dementia who may have always enjoyed working with tools but no longer can fix things. This kit allows them to swing a hammer again, as well as enjoy the beautiful results.

geode kit

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Play Darts

dart board

Playing darts is a nice way to tap into old memories for some or a simple motion for those who are unfamiliar with the game to learn. Of course, playing with someone with demenita might mean not keeping score, but it doesn’t mean it won’t be fun! A former dart player might hvae stories to reminisce about, such as where they played, a memorable bulls eye, or even a memorable miss! The person with memory loss might like to play alone just for “practice” or of course a competition can be set up between multiple players. You may want to consider using a darts that don’t have sharp tips, such as the magnetic option above, or the velcro or spiked versions, below.

velcro darts


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Build a Model Ship

Building model ships is a fun hobby for the young and the young at heart, sailing enthusiasts, woodworking enthusiasts, history buffs, military buffs, and many others.  It’s also a great intergenerational activity. 

The options range from simple

Easy Sailboat

to quite complex

Difficult Sailboat

so be sure to match the person’s skill level, dexterity, and patience!

There are also non-sailboat options for those who may have other boating interests or experiences, such as motor boats

motor boat

or even Noah’s ark!


For those in the early stages of the disease, all you may need to do is buy the kit and stand back.  For new builders or those in the later stages of the disease, more hands-on help may be needed.  Even if the individual doesn’t do much building, they can also help paint/apply the decals.  Or, it may be a jumping off point to reminisce about past military service, building models in childhood, or other boating-related experiences.

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Play Indoor Basketball

Photo courtesy from

Photo courtesy from

An over-the-door basketball hoop is a great way to get a little exercise (and blow off steam)! Models such as the one shown above simply hang over the door and use a foam ball to avoid damage from errant throws. Those in the early stage might like it hung in a common area, study, or office to give them something to do in between activities or while they’re working through a block in their memory. Those in the middle stages will likely need to be cued to shoot some hoops as a distinct activity, but men in particular shouldn’t need much instruction-putting the ball in their hand and pointing out the hoop should be all the cueing they need to start playing. Those who are still able to walk can certainly chase after their own ball, those who are unsteady on their feet may need a ball boy or ball girl. You might also find that people are more willing to play if you take turns shooting with them or play simple games such as who can make the most baskets out of ten throws, etc..

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Screw Nuts on Bolts


This is nice activity for men in the middle to late stages of memory loss who used to enjoy tinkering in the garage. I stole the picture from a parenting blog, What do you do all day?. She mentioned using different sized nuts and bolts, but you could certainly make them all the same size if you think different sizes would be frustrating for the person with memory loss. I also like that she superglued the head of the bolts to the board so they don’t get lost/fall out.

If you’re feel super crafty and/or just really don’t want to lose the nut, you can make a nut and bolt fidget “toy” like the one below (I would put the nut in the center section rather than the end to avoid losing it). It’s intended to just be a riddle, basically a “How did you do that” but I think spinning the nut on the bolt could be a fun, soothing activity for a former carpenter.

bolt puzzle

Watch a video on how to make your own here. Simply substitute a bolt and nut for the nail they use in the video.

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Play with a Remote Control Car

remote control car

What’s more fun then racing remote control, cars? Nothing. That’s what. So grab one and get racing. What? You need more of a reason than that? This isn’t a real post, you say? Fine. Remote control cars are great for people with memory loss. Those in the early stage can operate fairly complex ones, with a little practice, with those in the more moderate stages can enjoy those with simpler controls, like the one from Brookstone, above, or this “flipable” one from Tonka, below.

flip car

If the person likes, you can even take them to one of many remote control car tracks located all around the country, which you can search for here. Of course, you can also just drive through the house or the yard, or buy two and race your friends and family!

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Tend a Garden


Gardening is a great way to spend a nice sunny day (as long as it’s not too hot) and luckily it doesn’t rely on a whole lot of memory to enjoy. You can involve the person with memory loss as much or as little as they like/their cognition will allow. Someone in the early stages might enjoy the autonomy and creativity of planning a new garden bed and tending it by themselves. It might help to label each plant so they can help tell the plants from the weeds. It might not be bad idea to including watering information, too!

Those in the middle stages can help dig holes, plant seeds/starter plants, and water the plants. Weeding is another time-consuming, repetitive activity that can suit those in the middle stages of the disease quite well, just be sure to supervise to ensure that the garden’s plants are removed along with the weeds! Sitting and/or stooping can be hard on aging backs, but rolling lawn stool, such as the one below, can help ease the pain.

garden roller stool

Those in the late stages might enjoy just sitting and enjoying the sights and sounds. Give them a plant or flower to smell and touch to stimulate their senses. Of course, if it’s a vegetable garden, don’t forget to give them a taste as well! And don’t forget to describe what you’re doing in the garden as you do it so they feel involved.

Finally, gardening is a great way to start reminiscing with a person with memory loss. You can ask about if they gardened in the past, and if so, what they liked to grow, what they had good luck with, what they never could get to grow, etc. You might ask if there family had a victory garden during the war, what types of flowers or vegetables are their favorite, etc. The possibilities really are limitless!

Common sense reminders:
1. Don’t forget sunscreen
2. Don’t forget to drink lots of fluids. Older adults are at greater risk of dehydration and those with dementia may not be able to sense or express a feeling of thirst.
3. Never leave someone at risk for wandering outside unsupervised
4. Make sure any gardening tasks aren’t too physically demanding for the individual (psst! They now make garden tools for those with arthritis/weak upper bodies. You can find these ergonomic tools at most garden centers or online, just search “garden tools for arthritis.” But be warned, because they may look different from a normal garden tool, the person with memory loss may have more difficulty using them than a more familiar-looking version of the same tool.)
5. Have fun!

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