Participating in stimulating activities can help slow down cognitive decline and improve overall quality of life.

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia. It’s characterized by chronic, progressive deterioration in cognitive, social, and daily function beyond what might be expected from typical aging.

When people with Alzheimer’s regularly engage in stimulating activities, such as word games, dancing, or music therapy, they can help maintain cognitive function, enhance their memory, and potentially delay the progression of the disease.

Stimulating activities can be beneficial for people with Alzheimer’s disease in several ways:

  • Maintain cognitive function: Engaging in activities that require mental effort, such as puzzles, reading, or games, can help stimulate and maintain cognitive function. In particular, memory activities, such as reminiscence therapy (when you’re encouraged to recall past events), can improve memory retrieval and maintain a connection to the past.
  • Improve emotional well-being: Stimulating activities can help improve emotional well-being by reducing stress, anxiety, and depression. Activities such as art, music, or gardening can provide a sense of purpose, accomplishment, and joy, which can positively impact mood and overall well-being.
  • Increase social interaction: Participating in stimulating activities can encourage engagement with others, which can help reduce feelings of isolation and promote social connections.

A growing body of research suggests that stimulating activities may also be protective against future cognitive decline and dementia.

One study of 7,917 older people found that those who engaged in more cognitive activities and belonged to more social clubs had a reduced risk for dementia nearly 10 years later.

Another study found that frequent participation in cognitively stimulating activities, particularly playing games and puzzles, may help preserve brain structures and cognitive function among middle-aged and older adults at increased risk for Alzheimer’s disease.

Participating in stimulating cognitive activities can help improve memory, problem-solving skills, and language abilities.

Memory games

Activities that challenge memory, such as word games, crossword puzzles, and memory matching games, can help improve cognitive function and stimulate memory recall.

These types of games can be adapted to the person’s level of ability and can provide an enjoyable way to exercise the brain.

Reminiscence therapy

Reminiscence therapy encourages people with Alzheimer’s to recall and talk about past events and memories. This helps stimulate cognitive function and improves memory retrieval.

Reminiscing about familiar topics or events from the past can also provide a sense of familiarity and comfort.


Reading can be an excellent cognitive stimulation activity, especially if the person has enjoyed reading in the past.

Reading books, magazines, or newspapers can help improve language skills, promote concentration, and engage the imagination.

Physical activities such as walking, dancing, or gardening can help people with Alzheimer’s maintain their physical health, balance, and well-being.


Walking is a simple, low impact physical activity that can be done indoors or outdoors, depending on the person’s mobility and safety.

Taking regular walks can help improve cardiovascular health, promote muscle strength, and support overall physical well-being.

Gentle exercises

Gentle exercises, such as stretching or playing seated sports, can be modified to accommodate the abilities and limitations of people with Alzheimer’s disease.

For instance, playing simple balloon games, such as tossing a balloon or beach ball back and forth from a chair, can help improve hand-eye coordination, gross motor skills, and social interaction.

Tai chi

Tai chi, which combines slow, flowing movements with deep breathing and mindfulness, can help improve balance, flexibility, and cognition.

One review of nine studies found that tai chi can improve short-term cognitive function in elderly people who are in the early stages of dementia.


Dancing is a fun and engaging physical activity that can provide multiple benefits, such as improved cardiovascular health, balance, and coordination.

Dancing can also stimulate cognitive function by incorporating rhythm, music, and movement.


Gardening can be a rewarding physical activity that allows people with Alzheimer’s disease to connect with nature, engage in sensory stimulation, and participate in meaningful tasks.

Activities such as planting, watering, or weeding can provide light exercise and promote overall well-being.

Social interaction is important for people with Alzheimer’s, as it can help reduce social isolation, improve mood, and enhance overall quality of life.

Music therapy groups

Over the last several years, music interventions have been growing in popularity as effective non-drug interventions for people with Alzheimer’s disease.

Music therapy groups may involve singing, playing musical instruments, listening to music, or engaging in musical activities. Music has been shown to have a positive impact on cognition, mood, and emotional well-being and can foster social connections among participants.

This is important as there’s evidence to suggest that music memory can remain intact in people with Alzheimer’s, even while they’re experiencing rapid cognitive decline.

Memory cafés

Memory cafés are social groups designed specifically for people with Alzheimer’s disease and their caregivers.

These gatherings provide a supportive environment for socializing, playing games, and sharing experiences with others who understand the challenges of dementia. Memory cafés may offer activities such as music, art, and reminiscence discussions.

Group exercise classes

Group exercise classes, such as chair yoga, dance classes, or gentle fitness programs, can provide physical activity, cognitive stimulation, and social engagement for people with Alzheimer’s disease.

Stimulating activities, such as memory games, gentle physical exercises, and music therapy, can help a person with Alzheimer’s maintain cognitive function and potentially delay the progression of the disease.

If you’re caring for a person with Alzheimer’s, be sure to consult with a healthcare professional who specializes in dementia care, as they can provide personalized recommendations for appropriate activities for your loved one.