Dementia Activity Ideas

Planning activities for a Person Living With Dementia (PLWD) isn’t easy. I’ve found it challenging to identify activities that peak and maintain the interest of a PLWD. The Positive Approach to Care philosophy states that PLWD need a balance of activities that include leisure, productivity, restoration and self-care.

There are variations of engagement for everyone in any GEMS® state of dementia. GEMS® is a dementia characteristic and ability model. Providing activities that the person is able to do mentally and physically is the key. Personal interests, abilities, opportunities and where they are in the progression of the disease must be considered. Care partners must remember that engagement and interest in an activity is our purpose, not an end product. Here are some examples.

DIAMOND — reluctant to change Diamonds stick to routines and are inflexible. You may need to give more verbal reminders leading up to an activity or event. Activities may include word or jigsaw puzzles; crafting, such as crocheting; sorting items by quantity or function; and household chores, such as washing dishes.

EMERALD — needs to know what’s next Emeralds could benefit greatly from walking. They may also be skillful with household chores, such as folding clothes; sorting items with visible differences, such as color; simplified word puzzles; or other enjoyable crafts. Allow mistakes; your PLWD may not complete the task as you expected, but allow them the gratification of helping.

AMBER — stuck in a moment Ambers are all about sensations and touch. Ambers and Emeralds are wanderers. Ambers are very curious and possess little safety awareness. Consider setting up a few safe places around the house where these wanderers can touch items. A lap mat, activity boards with latches and switches, and other sensory items can be found online.

RUBY — fine motor is slowing down, gross motor strength Rubies are great with gross motor skills that can be best utilized with games such as batting a balloon back and forth, playing catch with a foam ball or cradling a doll. Rubies also enjoy old familiar tunes and may even like to sing along. Sensory items mentioned in the Amber state would also work well.

PEARL — end-stage, difficult to reach but still there A person in the Pearl state is not always easy to be around. At this stage, they are typically bed-bound and non-verbal. However, they are still human beings and take pleasure in being treated as such. Pearls are great listeners, although they may not always respond. They may enjoy listening to music, hearing about your day or family, or a favorite story or poem, and having the grandkids play near them, allowing them to hear the laughter and receive kisses and hugs. For a more intimate experience (with proper training), you might choose to assist with feeding, grooming or incontinence care.

Caregiver Education & Consultation
Mapuana Taamu, Certified PAC Trainer
808-469-5330 |
Contact Hawaii Memory Friends to learn about GEMS® character models through the caregiver’s workshops: IT’S ALL IN YOUR APPROACH, scheduled at Pohai Nani (October), Kapiolani CC (September, October, November).


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.