Sensory Activities People with Dementia Can Enjoy with Their Families

Engaging a person with memory impairment can be incredibly beneficial to them – and sensory activities for dementia patients are a fantastic way to do that.

Repetitive and calming activities that engage their senses can help reduce anxiety and agitation, while also giving you opportunities to connect with them.

1. Sorting Keeps a Mind Occupied

Older adults with dementia still like to have “jobs” to do, and sorting provides a sense of purpose for them. We have seen older adults living with dementia get tremendous satisfaction by folding and refolding the same set of towels for hours. It might take some creativity, but you may even find a job that will be helpful around the house. These types of activities for people with dementia could include all sorts of “jobs”:

  • Junk drawers can be divided by items.
  • Coins can be sorted for rolling.
  • Pens can be tested, and old ones thrown out.
  • Towels can be folded and sorted by color.

2. Crafting Can Continue after a Dementia Diagnosis

Many older adults have enjoyed a lifetime of crafting and art, and a dementia diagnosis is no reason to stop. There are many easy crafts for seniors with dementia.


Older  adults who enjoyed knitting or crocheting before dementia will still enjoy it and find a sense of purpose. They may not be able to read complicated patterns, or their stitching might not be as clean, but they will often still have the ability to do simple stitches. Make sure to provide them with bright, easy-to-see yarn and large needs.

Painting or Coloring

Art is a fantastic sensory activity for those living with dementia. There are many easy crafts available, and older adults often enjoy making art. If you’re worried about the mess, there are cleaner options, so you don’t have to worry about staining clothes. This product allows you to color with a mess-free, clear marker. The color is infused in the page and comes to life when you wet it with the marker. Another option is paint-free painting supplies like this.

If you don’t mind a bit of a mess, washable finger painting can be a fantastic way to engage older adults with dementia.

3. The Power of Play Calms the Mind

Playing together can build fun memories and bring smiles to someone who is memory impaired. They may have vivid memories of playing as a child, and that youthful spirit can return quite naturally. When thinking of play activities for people living with dementia, think of things that will take them back to their younger years.


Whether they create something or not, smashing, rolling, and squeezing playdough, can occupy anxious hands and is a soothing sensory activity for dementia patients.

Therapy Doll or Stuffed Animal

Even when a person has dementia, they still have a tremendous capacity for nurturing. Getting them a therapy doll or stuffed animal can bring comfort to them, while also giving them an opportunity to “care” for something. It’s one of our favorite memory care activities.

Fidget Toys

Fidget toys like this popper toy are popular with kids, but they can also be wonderful for those with memory impairment for all the same reasons: they give fidgeting hands something to do and calm anxiety.

We’re Here to Support You

We hope some of these ideas for sensory activities for older  adults living with dementia are helpful for you if you are caring for a loved one with this diagnosis. At Menno Haven, we understand that you need time for yourself, just as your loved one needs time with others. If you could use some additional support, we offer ElderDay, where your loved one can not only enjoy memory care activities but also be surrounded by trained activity staff, nurses, and personal care assistants who offer activities, meet personal care needs, administer medications, and monitor other health conditions. Contact us today if you’d like to learn more.