Valentine's Day is right around the corner! This holiday celebrating love is the perfect inspiration for activities appropriate for patients with dementia. We have rounded up 5 Valentine's activity ideas that will work well for people with dementia, including the benefits for each and additional suggestions to grade the activity for lower levels.
1. Sweetheart Cinnamon Rolls
Using Pillsbury™ refrigerated flaky cinnamon rolls with icing (you need this specific kind!), you can unroll the dough and then re-shape it to form a heart. The result is a heart shaped cinnamon roll!
Benefits: The benefits of this activity includes using fine motor skills and sensory stimulation through the touch of the dough and smell of the cinnamon.
Adaptations: For patients at lower levels of dementia, you can shape the dough and have the person spread on the icing, after baked. The person could also shake on pink and white sprinkles. Get Directions
2. Valentine's Day Bookmark
Take a multi-colored red or pink toned paint swatch card and punch small hearts out of each color on the swatch. Add a ribbon at the top to complete the bookmark.
Benefits: Good for fine motor coordination and stimulation through colors. Also, makes a nice gift the person can give to a family member or friend.
Adaptations: For lower levels, skip the punching of hearts and instead have the person put heart shaped stickers on the paint swatch. Get Directions
3. Sing some 'Love' songs!
Benefits: Music stays in the memory of people with dementia longer, as it is stored in a different part of the brain. Music can bring back positive memories and even those who have trouble speaking can find the words to familiar songs.
Adaptations: Patients at lower levels of dementia may need a person right across from their face mouthing the words, even as a song plays, as an additional cue of what the words are.
Songs to try: Love Me Tender; Can't Buy Me Love; Baby Love; I Think I Love You; I Can't Help Falling in Love with You
4. Make a Surprise Swirl Cake
This activity has no right or wrong - swirl the batter any way you like and enjoy the colorful result! Frost and add sprinkles, too!
Benefits: If the person is standing, this activity can help with balance and endurance. If the person is stirring, it can help strengthen the arms. It can also allow for creativity as the cake is designed, plus stimulates the sense of taste!
Adaptations: For lower level patients doing this activity, give the directions one step at a time. Repetitive steps like stirring, frosting, and shaking sprinkles will be easier than measuring ingredients. Get Directions
5. Cotton Ball Heart Painting
Use clothespins to hold cotton balls, then dip them into paint to daub onto a canvas or piece of paper that has a heart shape blocked out. The result will be a white heart surrounded by colorful painting swirls.
Benefits: Painting by simply daubing paint on is a failure-free way to paint, with no worry of doing it right. The person can experiment with adding or mixing colors. Art activities have been found to have many benefits for dementia patients.
Adaptations: Use store bought daubers to apply paint instead of the cotton balls or use pieces of cut up sponges. Get Directions