Power of the 5 Senses: Meaningful activities to do with those we love who are dealing with dementia

Jessica Donahue



  • Look at old photos. Tell stories and reminisce with your loved one about special days
  • Watch something soothing. Fish tanks or a peaceful fireplace can meet this need. You can also create a virtual aquarium or roaring fire your TV with DVDs or other programs
  • Use visual expression. Encourage painting, drawing and other arts to experiment such as washable finger paints, stamps, and collages


  • Try essential oils. Aromatherapy can have powerful relaxation effects. Oils such as lavender may help with sleep
  • Bring in nature. Pick up some flowers from the garden or from the store to bring inside and enjoy the scents


  • Get your hands dirty. Try a raised garden bed or a large pot on a table to plant together and dig into the dirt
  • Go hands on. Molding clay or putty can help give busy hands something to manipulate. Help folding towels or washcloths from the laundry or untying knots from ropes can also have similar benefits
  • Start a game night. Try modifying the rules of common games like Yahtzee, Dominoes, or Bingo to allow your loved one to throw dice, stamp bingo cards to participate in a low pressure way


  • Reminisce with sound. Music of one’s youth can be associated with strong memories. Print out the lyrics and sing along to some of the popular tunes
  • Enjoy different rhythms. Drums and other instruments such as shakers can provide a meaningful way to participate in music even if someone can no longer sing along


  • Bring on an assistant Chef. Have your loved one help with tasks such measuring ingredients, stirring batter, and cracking eggs can provide meaningful activities in the kitchen together
  • Task your favorite foodie. As you cook have your loved one taste test for you

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