Man with dementia helps with cooking

Keeping Someone with Dementia Occupied

One of the daily challenges a family member can face when caring for someone with dementia is trying to keep them occupied. I’m sure you will agree that we would quickly become irritable and bad tempered if we didn’t have a purpose in life.

Activity is essential to everyone’s wellbeing and will help maintain a person’s sense of self-worth and give purpose and enjoyment to their day. Sometimes your loved one might say “no” to being involved in an activity, so try to think of different ways to engage their interest.

Often boredom can lead to frustration, and then to challenging behaviour that may even become physical abuse towards you.

Examples of challenging dementia behaviour can include:

  • Pacing up and down
  • Constant requests for help
  • Self-harm
  • Swearing
  • Inappropriate sexual behaviour

Dementia Activities at Home 

Find ways of involving your relative in normal day to day tasks. For instance, if they were a good cook then encourage them to help you in the kitchen. They may only be able to achieve small tasks such as adding one or two ingredients or stirring the pan. You might have to do them again when they aren’t watching, but it will help them to feel valued and useful.

Try a gardening session where you can supervise. Consider raised beds and use containers that won’t break if they knock them over. Use tools that they can handle easily.

Whatever activities you do, try to go at a slower pace than normal. Make sure the lighting levels are good and avoid distractions like the TV. Make sure the room is pleasantly warm and your loved one’s hearing aids are turned on and their glasses are clean. 

Sometimes people with dementia can become upset or frustrated that they can’t do things as well as they could before. Try breaking down tasks to smaller steps and give them plenty of time and reassurance.

Dementia Resources



  • The Alzheimer’s Society website provides a good selection of games and activities to prevent boredom. You can also search their site for Day Services in your local area


  • Another great resource is Mental UP which provides games designed for someone with dementia including solitaire, bingo, and dominoes but there are also more imaginative apps such as a virtual aquarium and a pottery app


  • For more activity ideas visit Activities to Share which explains how to adapt activities to suit a person with dementia


  • For more information about caring for a loved one with dementia, and to meet others like you caring for someone, join the discussion in our Facebook group at Care Begins at Home.