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Enjoyable Memory Care activities?


Senior Member
My fresh out of college son has a new job as activity director at a day program for participants with memory issues. His degree is in Gerontology. It is a non-profit; therefore, he must be a good steward with resources. The program is just restarting from being closed due to Covid. Right now there are only a few participants on alternating days. He said there are a few idea books and a binder from previous years with ideas, but he is trying to come up with more activities.

Being a teacher, I am on the hunt for ideas. I think it's fun to research things, but the challenge is finding crafts or activities that are not too juvenile, but not too challenging and need to be inexpensive. He said the participants enjoy demonstrations. He also tries to tailor the activities to the preferences of participants.

They have puzzles, short group discussion time, chair exercise and regular volunteers perform live music. They also have a nice outdoor area for days with cooler weather. Lunch is provided. For participants it is meant to be a fun, social few hours. Their caregivers get a much needed break.

Do any of you have ideas that might be appealing to this population? I have been looking family fun type websites- craft ideas and science experiments.

Thanks in advance!!!


Senior Member
Hm. Maybe get old photos (either theirs, or even printed from the internet) and share what the photos remind them of…or share their favorite memories that they have. Maybe scrapbooking also. Or watch favorite old movies together from their generation, like have them do a survey before hand and then stream their favorites.


Senior Member
Bingo. My MIL's residential memory care did Bingo every day after lunch.

Once a week movie. Make it a musical. He'll only need a couple and can run them on rotation. The familiarity of the story accompanied by the music make them a hit.

I recall MIL's facility doing balloon volleyball and Wi bowling.

---- Re survey: He might get an unexpected answer. My mom was in a regular nursing home. They had a resident meeting and as part of it were talking movie suggestions. One male resident wanted to know why they never showed anything X rated.


Senior Member
We hired an Activity Specialist for my MIL and the activities she enjoys the most are the craft related ones. The specialist brings in things such as small red clay pots,coasters,glassware and wooden animals and MIL paints and decorates them. MIL really appreciates the Specialist's personality because the woman genuinely cares for and has fun with MIL. We get pictures and texts about each visit.


Senior Member
Reaching out to dance groups to perform for free was a hit at my dad's nursing home. The residents loved seeing kids perform.


Senior Member
Are there any activities he could link to a local need?
-cards for young cancer patients
-knitting booties, making hats for preemies/NICU babies
-growing herbs for local soup kitchen
-coloring cards or motivational mini-posters for first responders
-making sock toys for shelter dogs

Other ideas:
-Lego or Duplo building challenges
-old school games from their youth: jacks, marbles, card flipping
-marble runs-they could design and make their own on paper plates, pizza boxes, etc.
-getting local choirs, bands, magicians, etc to perform
-if there's a nearby college, seeing if any students in social work, elder care, education, etc would like to come visit once a week
-If they are physically able, how about dance lessons or chair yoga?
-Wii Rock Band- I bet a local Walmart or Target might donate or discount what you need


Senior Member

Beach Glass

Senior Member

When my MIL was in a nursing home, sadly, she didn’t participate at all, and that really bummed me out. There were some great activities.

One in particular that was a huge hit was bubble badminton.I saw it in action one day. The activity director got one of those bubble machines you see for sale in the summer. Just using their hands, they popped as many bubbles as they could as the bubbles from the machine came toward them. They were all seated. The residents were having a ball!


Senior Member

You mentioned music performances.

Music is great for dementia because it is generally connected to the way-back things they remember.

Sing-alongs are great and cheap. Large-print word books and recordings (or a live leader if you can find a volunteer). Find out what the pop music of the day was.

I recorded a bunch of hymns and would take them to my mom. We'd just sit and sing hymns on the glider in the courtyard.

I second children's dance groups!


Senior Member
Dutchgirl, LRC!!

I recently learned how to play this and have it at home. My 76 year old mother taught me how to play a few months ago!

Thank you for the suggestion!


Senior Member
Thank you!!

Oh my, you all are blowing me away with ideas!! I will pass these on. My son has such a heart for this population. He will be excited when I share these ideas.

I was thinking about making some paint your own sugar cookies with royal icing. Also, I was thinking about having them participate in a no bake cooking class--like making mini cinnamon rolls with crescent dough and they could glaze their own. Or making those cookies with frozen orange juice conc., coconut, powdered sugar and crushed grahams.

Connect 4 seems to be a hit. Competition can be problematic. Open ended games or modified games are good. Uno with modifications is enjoyable.

There are enough volunteers for a 1:1 ratio most days.


Senior Member
YouTube is a great resource for music and would be great to use while they're setting up for and/or transitioning to a new activity. My dad especially loved music from the 30s and 40s and clips from Broadway musicals and movies made from them. I often looked for "karaoke style" or "with lyrics" to help me sing with him.

YouTube also has episodes of "The Lawrence Welk Show" which focuses on music between the 30s and 70s - all of which was enjoyable to both my parents. A few minutes of something like that might make a good transition after lunch.

I've been surprised at how many of the caregivers working with my parents don't automatically cue in to how important music is in helping with behavioral issues. I had a discussion with one young man who helped take care of my dad and made some suggestions and the next time I saw him he proudly showed me all the music cued up on his phone. He said the minute dad started to have trouble he'd start playing something and dad would immediately start singing along and forget his upset.

I've wondered about using some of the activities I used to do with elementary music classes. There are all sorts of videos showing music classes doing rhymical dance with ribbons, drumming on balls in buckets, etc. to music. It would be fun and some of the participants might be able to remember routines. Since I've retired, I've seen something new called "boom whackers" that might be fun for adults too if he had the funds.
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Senior Member
Memory care

Is there a place that cold bring in animals for pet therapy?
I read about having a tailgate party.
Tailgate Parties
Weather permitting, cordon off a section of the parking lot and recruit staff or volunteers to park their cars together and set up a cooking area to grill brats, hot dogs, and hamburgers. Coordinate with the kitchen staff to provide some side courses like potato salad, baked beans, and coleslaw. Set up tables where residents can eat, and bring everyone back inside to the day room to watch the game on TV.

Reminisce magazine is often popular with seniors.


Senior Member
Pinterest has lots of ideas posted by professionals. I adapted some of them for my students with disabilities when I taught under older students.


Senior Member
"Volleyball" using a beachball. Just trying to hit it. Can be done seated.

Remember sewing cards back many years ago? Basically a shirt cardboard with a picture on it and then holes punched out along the outline. The "sewing" was done with yarn that had a knot in one end with the other end like a shoelace.


Senior Member
I was going to say - keeping a balloon in the air and bingo are two of my mother in law’s favorite. She also likes making holiday devotions to put on their doors.


Senior Member
bowling with 2 liter pop bottles and a large ball.
Name that tune ( modified) give choices) of music from their youth
Show pictures of scenes from the past ( such as cars that were popular in their teens or twenties, houses, movies, etc. ) See if they can talk about their youth.
Show older black and white movies/musicals


Senior Member
Memory care

In my mom’s center, they would bat balloons around. Sometimes they used pool noodles. Tossing things into laundry baskets. Planting seeds.

News of the day. Read bits of newspaper and ask for their responses.


Senior Member
My aunt is in a facility full time. They have crafts for the holidays, musicians come frequently.

One thing I didn’t see mentioned is painting. Finger painting even! Gets that sense of touch going!