5 activities children can do with someone living with dementia

Given the right encouragement children can be one of the most engaging activity partners for someone living with dementia. We need to tread carefully and always be led by both adult and child, watching for tiredness and stress levels but with patience and preparation on the part of the supervising adult the most wonderful interactions can be seen. Dependant on the child’s age and the adult’s stage of dementia the following ideas can be adapted to suit. I would recommend another adult observes and steps in to guide the activity and help where needed, but more often than not you are there merely to watch and enjoy!


  1. Playing: It sounds obvious and I suppose this is why it is number one on my list. If you take into consideration noise levels, current mood levels and other environmental and individual sensitivities then watching children play can be great therapy. I’ve lost count of the times a resident’s eyes would light up when a child of any age entered the room. Giving the child some encouragement to take a toy to the individual with dementia can reap great rewards.
  2. booksBooks: Surprisingly, the ability to read can be one of the latter things to diminish with dementia. Concentration, comprehension and interest can fall away but children’s books are a perfect complement to this situation. Ask Grandma to help the child with their reading or ask the child to read to Grandpa. The person may only be able to pick out a word or two but will hopefully feel like they have a useful role to play.
  3. Board Games: Snakes and ladder has been a great hit in my experience. Sometimes some support is needed to remind the person which piece is theirs, which way round the board you move, or whose turn it is, but it is a great way to maintain relationships between children and someone living with dementia.
  4. Cooking: Simple baking or preparing vegetables is an activity that both adult and child can enjoy. The adult can take on the teacher role, helper or even observer. Allowing both adult and child to find their own levels of participation avoids stress and uncertainty.
  5. Colouring in: Almost every child will happily pick up a pencil or crayon and colour in, whether it be a complex image or basic outline. You might be surprised how many adults will do likewise. You only have to look at the current top non-fiction book sales to see the popularity of adult colouring books. You may want to provide child and adult with separate sheets to colour if conflict arises, but side by side you should see some happy artists.

colouring in

I hope these ideas have inspired you to encourage children and adults living with dementia to play together. You will find more ideas on my blog www.anythingbutbingo.co.uk

Jenny Trott
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Jenny Trott

I am a Wellbeing Coordinator in residential care working with people with dementia. My ethos is to learn, grow, teach and share, create and laugh. I hope my blog Anything But Bingo inspires professionals and care partners to enrich the lives of anyone living with dementia.
Jenny Trott
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