Recreational Activities - DementiaHub.SG

Recreational Activities


What Are Recreational Activities?

Recreational activities are activities that people participate in for leisure. These are activities that are meant to engage persons living with dementia and are not specifically intended to meet therapeutic outcomes.1

Recreational activities differ from activities done for the purpose of therapeutic outcomes, such as activities done as therapeutic activities or psychosocial interventions. These non-recreational activities aim to meet therapeutic goals, such as the improvement of cognitive or emotional conditions, and tend to be more structured.

Recreational activities, therapeutic activities, and psychosocial interventions complement each other in improving and maintaining the wellbeing of a person living with dementia.

Types of Recreational Activities

There are many kinds of recreational activities. One list of recreational activities by the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) by the World Health Organisation (WHO)2 is as follows:


Engaging in games with rules or unstructured or unorganized games and spontaneous recreation, such as playing chess or cards or children’s play.


Engaging in competitive and informally or formally organised games or athletic events, performed alone or in a group, such as bowling, gymnastics or soccer.

Arts & Culture

Engaging in, or appreciating fine arts or cultural events. Examples include going to the theatre, cinema, museum or art gallery, or acting in a play, reading, being read to, dancing, singing or playing a musical instrument for enjoyment.


Engaging in handicrafts, such as pottery or knitting.


Engaging in pastimes such as stamp collecting and antique appreciation.


Engaging in informal or casual gatherings with others, such as visiting friends or relatives or meeting informally in public places.

Other recreation and leisure

Other recreational activities

There are many other possible ways of categorising recreational activities as well which may not fall into the categories above.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Activities

Factors to consider when choosing activities for persons living with dementia include, amongst other things:

• Individual differences
• Type of dementia
• Age
• Personnel who need to be involved such as family caregivers, therapists, attendants, and the level of skill needed to facilitate these activities
• Mobility
• Past injuries
• Health conditions
• The stage of dementia
• The environment in which activities are conducted
• A schedule for persons with dementia and their caregivers that they find workable.

Personal Preferences
The preferences of the person taking part in the activity must also be considered. Activity facilitators and planners are encouraged to ask the persons taking part in the activity about what activities they would like to take part in from a choice of activities. They can also be asked whether the activity that they are being currently offered is something they would like to participate in.

Having a variety of activities is also highly encouraged. Having different activities will allow the participants to enjoy themselves and be engaged.

Here is a video by the Agency for Integrated Care about how persons living with dementia can be guided by caregivers and persons around them in daily activities. The video’s tips apply to a wide range of activities, including recreational activities.

Source: Agency for Integrated Care

Benefits of Activities

All persons, including persons living with dementia, have various needs, including psychological needs. Some of these psychological needs include attachment, comfort, identity, inclusion, and occupation. These needs are more likely to be met when these persons participate in recreational activities.3

There is evidence that participating in recreational activities improves the overall well-being of persons living with dementia. Amongst other benefits, evidence suggests that recreational activities promote, depending on the kind of activity4-6:

• Physical activity.
• Social and mental well-being.
• Cognitive function.
• Self-perceived health status.
• Functional ability.
• A sense of meaning through: feelings of pleasure and enjoyment experienced through involvement, a sense of connection and belonging, and a sense of autonomy and personal identity.

Facilitating Activities

If you are a caregiver, care professional, or anyone engaging a person living with dementia, here are some tips from the Agency for Integrated Care on how you can engage persons living with dementia through an activity:

• Choose activities that are similar to what they have always enjoyed.
• Emphasise their strengths. Focus on what the person living with dementia can do and not on what they cannot do.
• Communicate with them verbally and non-verbally. Always allow time for response and minimise options to reduce the likelihood of confusion or distress.
• Make sure the area is comfortable and conducive – provide adequate lighting, allow ample space to move around, and minimise background noise
• Keep an eye for signs of fatigue or being overwhelmed – frequently check if the person needs to rest

Examples of Recreational Activities

Sing A Song | Connecting Caregiver Tips by Forget Us Not

This video shows how a family has karaoke sessions together with Mr Peter Lim, a family member who lives with dementia.

Source: ForgetUsNot Initiative by LIEN Foundation, Khoo Teck Puat Hospital, & Dementia Singapore

I Made A Card Game For Seniors | Connecting Caregiver Tips by Forget Us Not

Christel Goh is the creator of Hua Hee, a card game for seniors. She cares for her grandmother who is showing signs of dementia. She believes that games and constant engagement can delay the onset of dementia.

Source: ForgetUsNot Initiative by LIEN Foundation, Khoo Teck Puat Hospital, & Dementia Singapore

Hinghwa Methodist Church’s Silver Buddies programme

The Hinghwa Methodist Church Singapore runs Silver Buddies, bringing the community (including nearby residents) together to care for their mental, physical and social well-being. This is an example of a community recreational activity initiative. Community groups can conduct similar activities for different groups of people, including persons living with dementia.

Additional Resources

Here are some local and overseas resources and documents on activities and tips for planning activities for persons living with dementia. These resources can be used in different settings, including homes, nursing homes, and centre-based daycare programmes. They can also be used by organisations or groups intending to engage persons living with dementia.

Local Resources

Agency for Integrated Care (AIC)

. AIC Wellness Programme

The AIC Wellness Programme engages seniors through the provision of meaningful activities to enhance their wellbeing and quality of life. Many of these activities can also be performed by persons living with dementia.

Visit the AIC Wellness Programme page for more resources on recreational activities.

Dementia Singapore

1. Activities To Keep Your Loved Ones With Dementia Engaged During Covid-19

This article by Dementia Singapore is written for caregivers and those who want to care for persons with dementia during COVID-19 pandemic, which has been characterised by more time being spent at home, changes to social interaction patterns, and multiple other life routine changes.

Find out tips and resources on activities that persons living with dementia can still engage in while under pandemic restrictions.

2. Memories Café

Memories Café is a programme for persons living with dementia and their caregivers, conducted at external partner cafés and restaurants. The programme provides a normalised café setting for participants to interact through activities and conversations in a safe, supportive and conducive environment.

Due to the COVID-19 situation, Memories Café has ceased all physical sessions and has gone virtual. Check out Dementia Singapore’s YouTube to watch the recordings of Memories Café virtual sessions!

Find out how to join Memories Café sessions and for more information on the programme.

Overseas Resources

National Health Service (NHS), U.K.

This webpage details some activities that persons living with dementia can participate in.

Better Health Channel, Australia

This webpage by The Better Health Channel, written for carers of persons living with dementia, describes tips on planning activities for persons living with dementia.

Alzheimer’s Association, U.S.

This webpage by the Alzheimer’s Association in the United States contains a list of 50 activities that family members and friends can do together with persons living with dementia.


  1. Cambridge University Press. (2021). Recreation. In Cambridge Dictionary. In
  2. Recreation and Leisure. (2017). In International Classification of Functioning, Disability, and Health (ICF) online browser.
  3. Kitwood, T. (1997) Dementia Reconsidered: The Person Comes First. Open University Press, Buckingham.
  4. Innes, A., Page, S. J., & Cutler, C. (2016). Barriers to leisure participation for people with dementia and their carers: An exploratory analysis of carer and people with dementia’s experiences. Dementia15(6), 1643-1665. –
  5. Fernández-Mayoralas, G., Rojo-Pérez, F., Martínez-Martín, P., Prieto-Flores, M. E., Rodríguez-Blázquez, C., Martín-García, S., Rojo-Abuín, J., & Forjaz, M. J. (2015). Active ageing and quality of life: factors associated with participation in leisure activities among institutionalized older adults, with and without dementia. Aging & mental health19(11), 1031-1041. – %26 Mental Health_2015_13607863.2014.996734.pdf
  6. Phinney, A., Chaudhury, H., & O’connor, D. L. (2007). Doing as much as I can do: The meaning of activity for people with dementia. Aging and Mental Health11(4), 384-393. –
  7. Innes, A., Page, S. J., & Cutler, C. (2016). Barriers to leisure participation for people with dementia and their carers: An exploratory analysis of carer and people with dementia’s experiences. Dementia15(6), 1643-1665. –
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