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A dementia diagnosis doesn’t mean your relative should stop participating in hobbies and seeing friends. Keeping active helps to maintain a good quality of life for as long as possible.

A dementia diagnosis doesn’t mean your relative should stop participating in hobbies and seeing friends. Keeping active helps to maintain a good quality of life for as long as possible.

On this page you can find suggestions for different activities in a range of different environments.

1. Exercise options for those with dementia
2. Individual activities for those with dementia
3. Group activities for those with dementia
4. Cognitive exercise and mental health

Exercise options for people with dementia

Being active can help to improve quality of life and general wellbeing, as well as having health benefits. Exercising can relieve symptoms of anxiety and depression, while group activities can nurture a sense of belonging and stop people from feeling isolated. It is believed that mental stimulation can help slow down the progression of dementia and there are many different exercise options for people with dementia, such as:

  • Tai chi
  • Swimming
  • Walking
  • Yoga
  • Low-impact aerobics
  • Seated exercises.

Individual activities for people with dementia

There are many activity options that can be stimulating for the mind as well as the body. As much as possible your relative should continue to keep doing what they have always enjoyed, modifying the activity within the limits of the person’s ability. Examples include:

  • Music and dance
  • Crafts, painting and drawing
  • Indoor bowls
  • Gardening, housework, cooking
  • Reading
  • Simple board games
  • Puzzles: either jigsaw puzzles or specialist computer games with quizzes and puzzles

Group activities for people with dementia

There is a variety of possible group-based activities that your relative could do at home, such as gardening or painting, as well as organised sports and activities, either through local sports centres, community groups or local support groups. For example, some people enjoy indoor bowls, bingo, dance and even some sports. 

Use our Care services directory to find local support groups for people who live with dementia.

Cognitive exercise and mental health

In our guide concerned with exercise and entertainment, we have a page about keeping the brain active, which includes cognitive exercises for people with dementia where you can find more information on this subject. It includes:

  • Reminiscing: people with dementia most often lose their recent memories so may enjoy talking about their childhood and ‘life before dementia’. There are various organisations that support reminiscing, such as Sporting Memories and Singing for the Brain, organised by the Alzheimer's Society (see the Useful organisations and websites page for contact details).
  • Sorting through family or holiday photos can be a great activity that brings back happy memories. Your relative might also enjoy putting together a scrapbook of their life, with family photos and experiences. 
  • Building a life story about the person, which includes their history and family, friends, holidays and homes they have lived in. This is an interesting activity and helps people who may be caring for them to get to know them better and can help understand responses and behaviours. For example, someone who gets up at 4am every day may have worked as a postman for 30 years, so not at all 'unusual behaviour'.

More information

Page last reviewed: 20 May 2016
Next review due: 31 January 2018