Five Art Activities for Alzheimer’s and Dementia Patients September 03 2013


Art-based activities can be beneficial for seniors living with Alzheimer’s disease or a related memory-loss condition. Creating or viewing artwork can stimulate memories and prompt a conversation from personal experiences and life stories. It can provide a calming effect, reduce depression and boredom, and furnish a feeling of accomplishment. Creating art is a process that the person with Alzheimer’s disease can work on over a period of time. The end product is not as important as being engaged in the present with a meaningful activity.

Art Activity Suggestions:

Just Doodle – Doodling in warm colors has been found to provide a cheerful and calming effect. Take red, orange, and yellow crayons, colored pencils, or markers and just doodle for several minutes. Direct the person to not draw anything in particular—just doodle in circles, squares, or other random shapes.

Paint a Wall with Chalkboard Paint Convert any wall in the home or facility into an art surface with chalkboard paint. Painting an entire wall with chalkboard paint provides a reusable surface for drawing, writing, or designing life-size murals. Working with chalk in a large-scale area can provide a fun, relaxing activity that encourages creativity.

Design and Assemble a Collage – Determine a theme for the collage. Consider flowers, children, food, etc. Collect a variety of colorful photographs (and words) from magazines and newspapers. Cut out the photos and adhere to thick paper or cardboard with tape or glue. Consider embellishing the piece with fabric, buttons, sequins or other adornments for a more sensory collage.

Paint to Music – Listen to music and paint an abstract design. The music can be fast or slow—classical, country, or whatever type of music the Alzheimer’s patient enjoys. Suggest colors and design elements that represent the music. Try the activity with different selections or genres of music and compare the paintings when finished.

Visit an Art Museum Many art museums offer special programs for people living with a memory-loss condition. Examining artwork in a variety of mediums and styles can promote engagement with a person with Alzheimer’s disease. Encourage a discussion about the artist, the colors and style, and the emotions the piece evokes. If a trip to a museum is not possible, consider borrowing art books from the library to share.

Using art as a tool for engagement and creative expression and is one of the most successful activities for a person living with Alzheimer’s disease. Examining a famous masterpiece, viewing pieces at a local arts and crafts festival, or creating a simple piece of art together can create a special bond and provide a great deal of pleasure.

The Colors book from Shadowbox Press can be used in conjunction with art-based programming. The book takes the reader on a fascinating journey through the vivid world of color with poetry and photographs. From a crisp red apple to a shiny yellow taxi cab, each page will entertain the reader with its fun, imaginative verse accompanied by iconic, full-color images. For more information or to place your order, call us toll-free at (888) 796-6333.