A little support makes a big difference

Keep me engaged

To enable people living with dementia to live as full and active lives as possible, it’s important they stay socially, physically, and mentally engaged.

This can sometimes be challenging in care environments. Where possible you should always allow and encourage people living with dementia to engage in meaningful activities for them.

Here are some ideas and tips to help keep people living with dementia engaged.

Healthy mind activities

Allow for and organise “healthy mind” activities such as crosswords , find a word, mindfulness colouring books, games, reading materials and any other activities that challenge or engage the mind. These kinds of activities can help people living with dementia stay oriented in the present and enjoy themselves. Keeping their minds active can also help people living with dementia feel better and think more clearly. Dementia Australia’s A Better Visit app is a free app featuring a range of two player games designed to enhance communication and facilitate positive interactions between people with dementia and their visitors.

Talk regularly

Talk to someone living with dementia as much as you can, even if communication can sometimes feel difficult. It will help to make them feel more socially engaged and included and may make them feel less lonely. Engaging in conversation is one of the best ways for people living with dementia to stay in the present moment and feel connected, which can help them feel more comfortable with their surroundings. If you would like to practise your verbal communication skills you can undertake our Talk with Ted program. Ted is an Artificially Intelligent (AI) Avatar with symptoms of dementia. Engage in a virtual conversation with Ted and practise your communication skills.

Encourage and support participation in activities

It can be very beneficial to encourage the person to participate in activities such as singing, gardening and games. This can help them to feel involved and included in a social community, which can contribute to a better quality of life. For acute care – sitting in the lounge area where the person can engage with others can help. For people who are non-verbal consider how they might be communicating with you in non-verbal ways. You could provide other ways for people to engage such as drawing, painting or listening to music they might recognise. Enable your team to create meaningful and purposeful engagement for people living with dementia with our course Achieving purposeful engagement. Understanding an individual’s needs, strengths and abilities will help staff plan suitably engaging activities.

Encourage physical activities and healthy eating

Eating healthily and staying physically active will keep the person’s energy levels high and enable them to think more clearly. Encourage activities like walking and allow the person to do physical tasks on their own where practical. Always make sure the person has access to healthy and nutritious meals. Learn more about the importance of mealtimes and food for people living with dementia in residential aged care. Using virtual reality and avatar technology, A day in the life – mealtime experience explores multifaceted influence of food and mealtimes on quality of life for people living with dementia. Want to learn more about dementia? Go to our Resources section for guides, help sheets, videos and other resources.

The National Dementia Helpline is a free service that provides information and advice to all people who would like to know more about dementia or access services and support.

Dementia Australia’s national library service offers print and digital resources about dementia. Explore information related to these tips by accessing the library guide.