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Seasonal Activity Calendar for Seniors with Dementia

Seniors with dementia need to lead as active a life as they can. Exercise and other games can help older adults keep their bodies in good shape and improve mental health and cognitive function.

An activity calendar for seniors with dementia can help plan for and facilitate activities in small groups which can promote social engagement and a stronger sense of community.

Caregivers can plan activities according to the season to add to their quality of life, but you must also be mindful of their capabilities. The level of physical functioning and fine motor skills can help determine appropriate types of activities. Often called “Recreational Therapy,” here are some ideas to put on your activity calendar.

Spring and Summer Dementia Activities

Spring and summer activities should take advantage of the warmer weather. Seniors should be encouraged to wear comfortable clothing and spend time with friends and family in the sun. However, be sure to monitor the time in the sun and use sun block.

At the same time, caregivers should ensure outings are manageable. Make sure you are familiar with the physical conditions of the participants and plan things everyone can enjoy. When a group activity is planned well, meaningful connections can be made, daily exercise incorporated, and individual interests explored.

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Here are some ideas you can use as a springboard:


Light gardening is an excellent activity for seniors who love plants. This is very common in an active adult community, independent living environment, and senior assisted living. However, it is also very popular with all types of long-term care residents and memory care residents.

Make sure they wear light, loose clothing that feels comfortable. Pick small flowers to plant so the outing isn’t too physically taxing. Make gardening seats and benches available for those with joint or muscle problems.

Taking a Stroll

A simple activity like an early morning or afternoon stroll can feel invigorating. Walking is easy to schedule regularly to create a routine of exercise and can be done in small or large groups as a social outing. Activities like this are considered “failure-free activities” and are an important element for those experiencing any sort of memory loss and most forms of dementia.


Shopping at a local farmers market or stand can be a fun way to divert from the regular routine of those living with dementia. There, they can find various seasonal vegetables and fruits. An alternative might be to visit a local antique shop or outdoor market in nearby communities.

Visiting a Local Park or the City

Going to the park or into the city is a great way to plan a fun adventure for your seniors. Check for activities such as bird watching, concerts, or maybe a zoo trip. If planning a group outing, ensure you have enough personnel (including volunteer family caregivers) and that appropriate safety precautions are taken.

Having a Picnic or Outdoor Party

Planning a picnic is an easy way for people living with dementia to enjoy a bright and sunny day. Alternatively, you can schedule an outdoor party with games and music in the late afternoon. Inviting family members and friends outside the senior retirement community can also be an opportunity to spend time with their loved ones.

Making Frozen Treats and Cool Drinks

When it comes to summer activities, cool drinks are a must to stay hydrated and keep the heat away. Caregivers can make this a fun activity by asking seniors to create various frozen treats like ice pops or smoothies. Handmade simple drinks like lemonade and juice can make a picnic even more fun. This can make for a very positive impact of group activities.

Holding Photography Events

Photography events are perfect for community gatherings with friends and family. Organizing a trip around the downtown area, park, or even just around the neighborhood and snapping pictures can bring everyone together. Plan for seniors without a camera or smartphone by purchasing inexpensive single-use versions.

Fall and Winter

The colder seasons can be a challenging time for seniors with dementia. Outdoor activity is limited due to the weather — which is uncomfortable and can also affect those with muscle or joint pain. Being stuck inside can also lead to depression, which may make symptoms of dementia worse.

However, there is still room for activities to take their minds off the cold. Plan for things that include limited, routine exercise. Include fun activities that encourage cognitive function and social gatherings that remind seniors they’re part of a community.

Here are a few ideas to get started.

Throwing an Arts and Crafts Party

A season-themed arts and crafts activity is a great way to celebrate and combat the cold. From painting pumpkins or pressing leaves for autumn to making styrofoam snowmen in the winter, there’s no limit to what you can do. Those with dementia (and others) can display their creations in their rooms to brighten their decor.

Taking Advantage of the Sunlight

Just because it’s cold doesn’t mean your seniors must be stuck inside, particularly in the fall, when the temperature is still warm enough for an outing. Visiting a park or just taking a stroll around the neighborhood is an excellent way for dementia patients to stay active while enjoying the sights. See if there are any relaxing local activities such as leaf-viewing or bird-watching during this season.

Going Out on the Town

Going into the city or to a local shop are great year-round activities. Markets and stores will surely have unique in-season produce and activities during the fall. When winter comes around, you can schedule fun trips to museums or movie theaters to stay indoors. These activities are stimulating and keep those with dementia physically active.

Watching Movies and Hosting Reading Clubs

Alternatively, you can bring the movies to you. Scheduling a movie every week is an excellent social activity everyone can participate in. Caregivers can turn it into a club and let the seniors plan and choose their favorite films to watch. This can give weekly movie nights a stronger sense of community. Alternatively, you can also start a book reading party or club.

Offering Cooking Classes

Cooking is one of the best social activities and a good way to keep people living with dementia mentally active while making delicious dishes. You can let them choose the menu — maybe a signature dish they know how to make — or you can select something for them. The more personal the recipe is, the more fun you’ll have. Make sure to take all the necessary safety precautions if using sharp utensils or an open flame.

The Benefits of Activity

Keeping individuals living with dementia active, encouraging social interaction, and incorporating activities that keep their minds sharp provide long-lasting benefits to physical and mental health. Studies show that physical exercise, no matter how light, can reduce symptoms of dementia and depression by stimulating the production of hormones associated with improving memory and lifting mood.

Meanwhile, activities that encourage mental development can decrease symptoms of cognitive degradation and depression. This is especially true for those in the later stages. Studies show that regular activities can positively affect those with dementia and make them feel more involved in life.

Considering these facts, caregivers should make activities such as exercise routine year-round. Choose various outings instead of relying on variations of the same ones. Keeping seniors active in mind and body can go a long way to helping them feel happy and fulfilled in your care.

About the Author

Beth Rush

dementia and environment
Beth Rush

Beth Rush is the Managing Editor and Content Manager at Body+Mind.

Body+Mind features articles about diet, fitness, mental health, parenting and health care.



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