7 Dementia-Friendly Winter Activities

The year-end holidays naturally lend themselves to planning activities for a loved one with Alzheimer’s or dementia because there are presents to wrap, cookies to make and songs to sing. Yet what do you do in January when the holidays are over, but it’s still blustery outside? Here are a few suggestions that keep your loved one engaged and prepare for spring. 

Prepare for Gardening

flower pot on wooden chair

Even though spring planting is months away, experienced gardeners are studying seed catalogues and readying their seed order. If this was once an annual tradition for your mother or uncle, they can still relive the experience. Order a few catalogues in their name so they have the pleasure of seeing them arrive in the mail. Then go through the catalogue with them and help them determine what to purchase. This can stimulate conversations such as discussing their favorite flowers and gardening experiences. 

Decorate Garden Pots

After you order seeds for your loved one, they will need a place to plant the seeds. How about purchasing a clay pot that they can decorate? Until it’s time for spring planting, the pot can serve as decoration and can even hold the seed packets. 

Enjoy a Roaring Fire

active fireplace

How did your parents spend winter nights? Curled up before the fire, enjoying hot chocolate or coffee? You can recreate these nights, complete with a wood-burning fireplace, without having to chop the wood. On YouTube and Apple TV there are numerous fireplace videos complete with the sounds of crackling wood. Put the video on your TV, curl up and relax. 

Visit a Museum Without Leaving Home

mona lisa

If the artist in your family cannot visit a museum, bring a museum to them. Through the MoMA Alzheimer’s Project, your loved can have an art-museum experience without the travel. They provide a helpful guide of what activities you can do and there is a gallery of images you can view. 

Spend an Afternoon Birdwatching

hummingbird feeding

For birders, walking outside and spotting birds is part of the experience while birding. But if your loved one is unable to walk outside, you can bring the birds to them. Even during winter, there are birds about who won’t pass up the opportunity to visit a bird feeder. If your loved one kept track of the birds they saw, help them do that again by keeping a log of the visiting birds. For those whose eyesight is failing, reading a bird book will still prompt the memories of bird watching.  

Tea and Hot Chocolate Tasting

hot cocoa display

Nothing warms you up quicker on a cold day than a cup of hot tea or chocolate, and with so many varieties to sample, your loved one can have their sense of smell and taste stimulated. What can make the tasting even more eye-catching is using colorful or novelty mugs that can spark laughter or conversation.

Turn up the Nostalgia and Play Their Favorite Music

Talk to your loved one and discover what his or her favorite musical artist was and bring over a mix CD or stream live from providers such as Pandora, ITunes or Spotify. Use familiar tunes as a starting point for a conversation about memorable events. You could even combine it with another activity like enjoying puzzles while the blizzard roars beyond the windows.

Spend Time with Your Loved One

grandma and daughter look away

When it comes to finding fun things to do with a loved one with Alzheimer’s or dementia, it is not the number of activities that they do that is important, but rather the emotional connection that is forged during the activity. Tapping into hobbies your loved one appreciated can stimulate the memories and they will experience the pleasure associated with that activity again. Even if they cannot perform it independently as they once could, your efforts to join your loved one in a cherished pastime can be just the thing to shine a spark of warmth during the cold of winter.

About the Author

Andrea Watts is a writer at SeniorHomes.com, a free resource for families and seniors who are navigating the issues surrounding long-term care, such as costs and care options. We offer helpful guides on the long-term care options and connect families to family advisors who can serve as their guide every step during this process.