Activities for People with Dementia ~ Facts, Jokes, Trivia & Reminiscing

People with dementia don’t do well sitting in front of the boob tube all day. They get bored. Anxiety, depression, and hopelessness can set in. And the risk for agitation, aggression, negative behaviors, and falls increase. 

Intelligent people prefer intelligent things to occupy their time. Stimulating the brain to think, remember, and learn, and the body to stretch and move is essential for well-being.

So I’m sharing some great news with you today: Interesting Facts/Trivia/Jokes and Reminiscing are the perfect activities to get brain and body going in the right direction, and they’re FREE! 😀

Interesting Facts, Jokes, Trivia & Reminiscing: How These Activities Benefit People with Dementia

Sharing little tidbits of knowledge with people who have dementia may help them feel more engaged, inspire memories, and promote a sense of belonging. 

Reminiscing is simply remembering the past. Everyone reminisces. No two memories are the same, and each comes with its own unique sights, sounds, smells, feelings, and people. Even not-so-good memories, when mulled over, can help individuals recognize lessons learned, personal growth, and even provide some relief from past grief or blaming. 

Nostalgia, which is a warm and comforting feeling often accompanies reminiscing. Recalling a fond memory, talking about it, looking at pictures, and or experiencing the original emotions can be a healthy practice. 

Reminiscing and nostalgia combined can increase happiness; they are contagious when experienced with a group of like-minded folks. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I always use these activities together because they’re synergistic. Interesting facts or trivia about a certain topic can lead you right into a fabulous reminiscing and nostalgic session and vice versa–after a good reminisce and nostalgia activity, fun trivia and jokes are like icing on the cake.

People with Dementia Need a Nudge

You are the driver of activities for people with dementia. Whether you’re a family member caring for one person, a friend who stops by to help now and then, or a professional caregiver or manager with a group of residents, the goal is the same: To introduce a subject that will allow memories and nostalgia to flow.

Before you dive in, consider the specific interests, hobbies, careers, and histories of those who’ll participate. Then pick a topic–any topic. There are billions of choices. And trillions of memories in every brain. Sometimes we just need a friendly nudge to bring them to the surface. 

It’s important to note that today’s music, celebs, gadgets, lingo, styles, and trends are not appropriate subjects for older adults. Check out what was happening in the 1940s-50s-60s: Who were the big names in Hollywood? What music were teens singing and dancing to? What were the most popular careers? What were hip and cool people wearing, driving, eating? What were the social norms and issues of the time? 

You’re sure to find something suitable for seniors here: 

Animals Travel Friendships Actors Phone
Batman Adventure Dating Actresses Family
Superman Remote Places Colors Artists Stars
Spiderman Siblings Eyes Musicians Disney
DNA Parents Ears Doctors Genetics
Luck Spouses Nose Nurses Theme Parks
Flowers Partners Mouth Dentists Architecture
Insects Children Legs Attorneys Cartoon
Movies Grandchildren Arms Electricity Caffeine
Books Marriage Head Height Time
Musicals Name Meanings Sleep Weight Diamond
School Genealogy Dreams Memory Subway
Education Communication Nightmares Money Taxes
Favorite Cuisine Imaginary Friend Surgery Light Illness
Hobbies Nickname Broken Bones Ocean Government
Seasons Cars Memory Desert Mathematics
Sports Trucks Habits Kissing Nutrition
Ice Cream Airplanes Superstitions Love Healing
Soda Trains Brain Mystery Video Games
Music Rockets Chocolate Military Strength
Allergies Space Coffee Birds Fire
Pet Peeve Personality Traits Diet Plants Drinking
Bad Smells Holidays Health Trees Walking
Scary Things Traditions Age World Records Weeds
Bad Sounds Jobs Christmas Wealth Breakfast
Irritating Words Career Dinosaurs Technology Camera
Favorite Words Qualifications Drugs Science Cleaning
Boring Sports Volunteering Agriculture Sound Crying
Instruments Bomb Business Water Disaster
Languages Achievements Writing Power Shopping
Cooking/Baking Collections Reading Religion Billionaire
Job Skills Heroes Stress Speed Millionaire
Life Skills Good Advice Bacteria Psychology Gambling
Countries Bad Advice Valentine Author Gravity
States Tattoos Hygiene Coincidence Currency
Cities Toys Teeth Life Design
Towns Games Temperature Phobia Elderly
Monarchy Unusual Fast Food Salary Gold & Silver
Islands Quarantine Metal Website Miracle
Weather Evolution Farm Theft Nature
Pregnancy Work Zoo Breathing Myths
Inventions Muscle Statistics Geography Lifespan
Restaurant Advertising IQ Behavior Hair Color
Vegetables Fruits Twins Robot Signature
Monopoly Eating Clowns Harvard Pain
McDonalds Donation Balloons Country Fair Quilting Bees
Circus Economy Hangover Cell Phone Royal
Photography Comedy Medical Cereal Spy
Weapons Calories Forest Entrepreneur The Beatles
Lincoln Expressions Criminal Democracy Beards
Aliens Divorce Candles Heat Random
Employment Chewing Gum Pirates Addiction Rock & Roll
Digestion Hunting Tsunami Manufacturing Poison
Eyelashes Hallucinations Freezing Pollution Material
Carbon Earthquake Growth Radio Nitrogen
DA Vinci Tornado House TV Learning
Galaxy Flood James Bond Rescue King
Hydration Hurricane Literature Posture Mail
Lightning Zombies Mind-blowing Parasites Olympics
Thunder Zoo Pencil Microwave Programming
Recycling Vending Machines Sneeze Laughing Perfume
Salt Vitamins Goosebumps Windows Measurement
Solar System Teddy Bear Shipwreck Wedding Ring Redhead
Typing Starbucks Scientist Weight Loss Poker
Army Marines Navy Coast Guard Air Force
Sales Romantic President Dictator Mounties
Happy Sad Depressed Excited Exhaustion
Roller Coaster Skydiving Motorcycling Dance Smiling
Cheese Fried Chicken BBQ Camping Hiking
Eggs Milk Mountains Canyons Jogging
Lakes Rivers Speaking Performing Daydreaming

These trivia websites are free to peruse and print: 

An Example of a Great Facts & Reminisce Activity 

First, as I looked over my list to find a good example, “ice cream” caught my eye, and I was reminded of a memory involving my dad who died 7 years ago from complications of Alzheimer’s disease. Ice Cream is a perfect topic. 

To introduce the activity, share interesting facts about ice cream:

  • It takes 3 gallons of whole milk to produce just 1 gallon of ice cream.
  • The average cow produces enough milk over its lifetime to make 7,500 gallons of ice cream.
  • The inga feuillei is a Hawaiian fruit that tastes exactly like vanilla ice cream
  • According to NASA, ice cream is one of the three foods astronauts miss the most when they go on space missions. The other two: Pizza and soda.
  • In 1945, the US military built the first floating ice cream parlor for the sailors serving in the Pacific during WWII.
  • In 2017, Miki Sudo broke the world record for ice cream eating. She downed 16.5 pints of ice cream in 6 minutes.
  • In 2016, Americans ate approximately 713,300,000 gallons of ice cream. 
  • Remember the popular phrase, “I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream”? It comes from a song written in 1927 by Howard Johnson, Billy Moll and Robert A.K. KIng

“I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream. Rah! Rah! Rah!

Tuesdays, Mondays, we all scream for sundaes. Sis-boom-bah!

Boola-Boola, sarsaparoola. If you’ve got chocolate, we’ll take vanilla.

I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream. Rah! Rah! Rah!

I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream. Rah! Rah! Rah!

Frosted, malted, or peppered and salted. Sis-boom-bah!

Oh, spumoni, oh tartoni. And confidentially, oh, no baloney. 

I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream. Rah! Rah! Rah!”

(You can find recordings of the song on YouTube)

  • America’s Top 10 Ice Cream Flavors
  1. Vanilla
  2. Chocolate
  3. Cookies & Cream
  4. Mint Chocolate Chip
  5. Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough
  6. Buttered Pecan
  7. Birthday Cake
  8. Strawberry
  9. Moose Tracks
  10. Neapolitan

Read some Cheesy Jokes:

  1. Where do you learn to make complicated ice cream dishes? (Sundae School)
  2. What does an ice cream lawyer say? (You got served)
  3. What flavor ice cream do deer go for? (Chocolate chip cookie doe!)
  4. Knock Knock!  Who’s there? Ice Cream! Ice Cream who? Ice Cream if you throw me in the cold, cold water!
  5. Why doesn’t anyone invite an ice cream cone to their party? (They’re a drip)
  6. Got an ice cream for my girlfriend (Best trade I ever made!)

Next, my memory: When I was about 7 or 8 years old my dad, his dad and 5 brothers took me to Snelgrove ice cream parlor for a treat. It was the family’s favorite place to go. Daddy loved a double-scoop cone of Burnt Almond Fudge. Grandpa enjoyed all ice cream as long as it had butterscotch syrup and walnuts on top. My young adult and teenage uncles ate anything. 

While we waited for our order, I watched them from my stool at the counter in the huge gold framed mirror banter and joke. The sights and smells were divine! I don’t remember what flavor I had. All I know is I felt very happy and safe. Thinking about and sharing memories of dad with my residents would be a bonus to an already great day. 

And finally, ask residents to share their memories of making ice cream, going to a birthday party, having ice cream on a date, eating ice cream at a reunion or on vacation, etc.  Allow time for them to put thoughts into words and encourage all who wish to share to do so. 

Your activity will always be better when visual and sensory aids are added. Often individuals with dementia do not easily remember or recognize a word, phrase or idea without an object or photo to look at and hold. 

Other ways to enhance reminiscing and nostalgia might include 

  • Listing ice cream flavors on whiteboard (Blueberry, brownie, bubblegum, toffee, candy cane, cheesecake, cherry, coffee, cotton candy, eggnog, georgia peach, key lime pie, licorice, maple pecan, maple walnut, pistachio, pumpkin, rocky road, rootbeer).
  • Playing a matching game with ice cream cones.

    Ice Cream Cone Matching Game

  • Have an ice cream tasting party or create sundaes or rootbeer floats or banana splits.
  • Bringing ingredients and ice cream maker (there’s a great list of recipes on foodandwine.com/desserts/frozen-desserts/ice-cream/).
  • Learn about the history of ice cream.
  • Make up a poem about ice cream.
  • Read aloud a story of ice cream.
  • Show funny YouTube videos of babies eating ice cream for the first  time.

That’s the Scoop

Keep topics and conversations appropriate for your people. Reading down into a paper or list in a drone tone will turn them off and you’ll lose the attention of the group. Using eye contact, smiles, laughter, and well-prepared activities will improve the moods and behaviors of everyone, including YOU!

Please leave comments and questions below

Best of luck, 

Tamara 

 

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