This month is filled with planning, gatherings and festive holidays like Christmas and Hanukkah but in between, there are plenty of other holidays that you can enjoy and celebrate.
Here’s a list of activities and ideas, both indoor and outdoor that you can do that are perfect for older adults with dementia.
Well all know that mental health is important but for those with dementia, mental stimulation such as activities help maintain mental clarity and overall mental well-being.
But, it can be difficult coming up with ideas on what to do.
These monthly activities are meant to improve the quality of life not only for those loved ones with dementia or Alzheimer’s, but for their family members too.
This list of activities is meant mostly for family members who are caring for seniors with dementia at home.
But of course, some of the activities could also be implemented for those living in an independent living home, an assisted living facility or memory care unit.
Clark Kent’s Birthday – The story of Superman (and Clark Kent) was first published in 1938! Today is the day to celebrate his birthday.
Outdoor Activity – If you happen to live in or near Metropolis, Illinois (or want to take a trip) you can visit the Super Museum which has the “World’s Largest Collection Of Superman”.
Indoor Activity – You can sit back and enjoy the the original Superman which first aired in 1952. This could be a great activity to do with old or new friends.
Bartender Appreciation Day – These days bartenders call themselves mixologists – I love that term! Today is the day to honor them and all that they do to help us celebrate or get through a tough day.
Outdoor Activity – A visit to your favorite restaurant or bar would be in order today. Whether you drink alcohol or not, there’s always something you can enjoy at the bar. Even if it’s just people watching.
Indoor Activity – Many seniors shouldn’t drink alcohol due to the medications that they take but that does not mean they can’t enjoy a drink. Try putting together some mocktails with your loved one – it could be a lot of fun making these creations or making one up yourself.
Be A Blessing Day – Today is about doing for others. Getting out of your own space, your own head and doing something wonderful for others.
Outdoor Activity – A volunteer activity could be a wonderful thing to do today. Or just visiting someone who may need some help or lives alone. Bringing them a bag of groceries would be a nice thing to do too.
Indoor Activity – Make some brown bag snacks for your neighbors, friends, family and either invite folks over or deliver them. Working on a purposeful project is a wonderful task for many seniors with dementia or Alzheimer’s.
National Cookie Day – December is a month of treats and cookies are just one of those treats that we all indulge in during this month. Today could be a day to bake them or to plan what you will be baking as your holiday gets closer.
Outdoor Activity – Your local bakery may be handing out a free cookie to everyone today so whether that’s the case or not, it may be nice to spend some time at the bakery or coffee shop and indulge in a wonderful, flavorful cookie treat.
Indoor Activity – You can certainly pull out your favorite family cookie recipe and get to work. Or, look up new recipes online or get out to a bookstore and look for a book on cookie recipes.
Bathtub Party Day – Today is the day to celebrate the bath. Or the shower if crawling into a bathtub is not your thing.
Outdoor Activity – Get out to the store and buy some wonderful bath / shower treats. Things like bath bombs or shower bombs. Maybe a bath pillow or some delightful body lotion. Anything to make bathing or showering a little luxury.
Indoor Activity – A fun craft idea is to make your own soap! You can use a soap making kit to get you started on this fun project. And hey, you can even give them out as gifts!
Mitten Tree Day – Mittens help to keep us warm during the cold winter days and today is a great day to celebrate them.
Outdoor Activity – Put on your mittens and get out to enjoy the day. A walk in the park, or just around the neighborhood could be refreshing and fun.
Indoor Activity – My mother was a master knitter and I wish I had that skill. If you do, then today would be a great day to work on making your own mittens. If you aren’t sure that you could do this then check out these “how to” guides on knitting your own mitts.
National Cotton Candy Day – If you and/or your senior loved one enjoys sweets than you most likely love cotton candy! The memories that this very sweet treat conjures up includes a day at the fair, the circus and other festivals. So take some time today to celebrate cotton candy.
Outdoor Activity – A trip to a festival or at least a plan to get to one that’s coming soon would be in order for today.
Indoor Activity – If you can’t get out, or the weather just isn’t permitting for any kind of festivals then go ahead and order some cotton candy to enjoy at home. You may even want to pop in a circus theme movie to enjoy with your sweet treat.
Pretend To Be A Time Traveler Day – The idea today is to pretend you’re a traveler from another time but I think for family members and caregivers, today would be a great day to go back in time. You can do this by going over stories of the past, connecting with folks you haven’t seen or spoken to in a while, look through home videos and photos, etc.
Outdoor Activity – Get in touch with a friend or family member you haven’t seen for awhile and get together for a meal or a walk, etc.
Indoor Activity – You may want to spend the day searching for past friends and family online. You can research them on Facebook, Twitter. Type in their name into Google and see what you find.
Weary Willie Day – This is a holiday to honor Emmett Kelly who was a wonderful clown entertainer. His hobo clown character became very famous and entertained so many!
Outdoor Activity – There are multiple clown museums around the world including the American Clown Museum in Lake Placid, Florida. The Clowns Gallery Museum in London, England. The International Clown Hall of Fame in Baraboo, Wisconsin. If you’re near any of these locations or another clown museum near you, today may be a good day for a visit.
Indoor Activity – Although Red Skelton is known for many different characters, his Freddie the Freeloader clown character was a favorite. Spend the day with him through any of the DVD’s that you can find online showcasing this amazing talent.
Dewey Decimal System Day – Before the Internet and home computers, everyone went to the library for information. Us older folks remember learning the Dewey Decimal system in school so that we could find the information we needed at the library.
Outdoor Activity – It may have been a while since you’ve been to the library so why not go check it out your local branch today?
Indoor Activity – If you own a lot of books maybe today would be a good time to create your own organizational system for them. Or, you could read this wonderful children’s book about the inventor of the Dewey Decimal System, Melville Dewey. Also, a trip to the library could be a fun thing to do as well. Don’t forget your library card!
Magnum P.I. Day – The very popular show Magnum P.I ran from 1980 to 1988 and starred Tom Selleck as Thomas Magnum, a private investigator in Hawaii. Many seniors can remember this show and if they enjoyed it, today would be a fun day to celebrate it.
Outdoor Activity – Get some friends together to celebrate Magnum P.I. Day! Ask everyone to wear a Hawaiian shirt, maybe meet up at a Polynesian restaurant!
Indoor Activity – The obvious indoor activity today would be to binge watch the series which you can do with a DVD set or on a streaming channel. You may even want to dress in Hawaiian style clothing and maybe enjoy some Hawaiian inspired meals!
National Ding-a-Ling Day – I love this little holiday. It’s purpose is to remind us to pick up the phone and “talk”, yes “talk” instead of “text” to someone whom you haven’t spoken to in a while. It’s a reminder to keep in touch with friends and family. Read more about this holiday here.
Outdoor Activity – These days, talking to someone on the phone can be done both indoors and outdoors. So, if the weather permits get to the park, or your backyard and call a friend or two who you haven’t spoken to in some time.
Indoor Activity – Take some time with your senior loved one and go through your address books checking off and making a list of folks you haven’t kept in touch with or haven’t spoken with lately.
Ice Cream Day – There aren’t many people who don’t like Ice Cream and if you love this delicious treat then today is the day to celebrate it.
Outdoor Activity – Get on out to your local ice cream shop for a great little treat. Invite some friends or family!
Indoor Activity – Have some fun today and make your own ice cream treats at home. There are many different tools you can use to make homemade ice cream. There’s also a lot of fun accessories that you can use to make eating ice cream just a bit more fun!
Roast Chestnuts Day – When I lived in Brooklyn I loved going into NYC for some hot roasted chestnuts in the winter time. If you’ve never made them before, they’re actually quite easy. Here’s a recipe for you! But, if you want, you can also purchase them at your grocery store.
Outdoor Activity – If you’re lucky enough to have a backyard fire pit then today would be a great day to bundle up and take your roasted chestnuts outdoors. Sit by the fire, tell some fun stories!
Indoor Activity – Get yourself a grill skillet to roast some fresh chestnuts in the oven! Turn on a holiday movie and enjoy the day.
National Lemon Cupcake Day – Yep, another food holiday. There’s lots of them throughout the year but it seems like there’s more during this time of year.
Outdoor Activity – Seems like a trip to your local bakery for some coffee or tea and a lemon cupcake would be in order for today.
Indoor Activity – You can certainly make your own lemon cupcakes at home, share them with friends, family, neighbors. Create your own recipes by substituting Amaretto for vanilla extract!
National Chocolate Covered Anything Day – Chocolate has been a favorite of millions since it was first molded in 1847 by chocolatier J.S. Fry and Sons!
Outdoor Activity – Check out some local candy shops in your area and you may find that they offer an odd chocolate covered item. Philadelphia candy shops offer chocolate covered onions! In Korea, they sell chocolate covered seaweed. Chocolate covered mushrooms can be found in Toronto. Check out some other unusual chocolate covered things here.
Indoor Activity – Why not make your own chocolate covered oddity? Who knows, you may discover a new family treat!
A Christmas Carol Day – This is the day to celebrate when Charles Dickens’ story A Christmas Carol was first published in 1843. It’s a traditional story that is read and watched in movies and plays every holiday season.
Outdoor Activity – Might be a fun day to grab a group of friends and/or family and go caroling in your neighborhood.
Indoor Activity – Make it a tradition to read or watch any of the movies about the story of A Christmas Carol with your senior loved one.
Bake Cookies Day – Well, you know the holidays are here when it’s time to bake cookies!
Outdoor Activity – Get some baskets or gift bags or disposable Tupperware type of containers to put your baked cookies in to hand out to the neighbors.
Indoor Activity – Grab a friend, family member and together work on baking some cookies for your neighbors!
Look For An Evergreen Day – A day dedicated to appreciating the beauty of evergreens! If you’re lucky enough to have them nearby, in your backyard, in a local park or forest, today is the day to admire them.
Outdoor Activity – Heading out to your yard or park and maybe enjoying a hot cocoa drink or picnic (if the weather is good) under an evergreen tree could be a fun activity.
Indoor Activity – Outdoor bonsai trees are evergreen but you can work on starting and crafting a bonsai tree indoors.
Games Day – Taking time out with family and/or friends to play games, whether it’s card games or board games or word games is a wonderful way to connect, to relieve stress and to re-connect with the kids that are still in each and every one of us.
Outdoor Activity – If the weather permits, an outdoor games of horseshoes or croquet may be a fun activity for everyone. Otherwise, heading out to a local park’s community center to play some ping pong or billiards could be a fun activity too.
Indoor Activity – There are some great games that you can play with seniors with dementia and I would recommend ones that they used to play when they were younger. Things like Chutes and Ladders, Clue, Monopoly maybe.
Crossword Puzzle Day – A good crossword puzzle can challenge you, make you smarter and yes, frustrate you too! But if you love them, then indulge in that great activity today.
Outdoor Activity – Grab your crossword puzzle and take it out to a coffee shop or bookstore and enjoy a little time being out and about.
Indoor Activity – There are many different kinds of ways you can have fun with crossword puzzles at home. There are crossword jigsaw puzzles, large print crossword puzzle books, online apps, page-a-day calendars, etc.
Be A Lover Of Silence Day – These days with television, computers, laptops and video games and yes, the voice activated devices, it seems that there’s not a moment of peace and silence ever. Today is a day to celebrate the benefits of a little silence.
Outdoor Activity – Silence does not necessarily mean complete silence. Get to a nearby park or your backyard and just listen to the birds, the wind rustling through the trees, etc.
Indoor Activity – Turn everything off today and enjoy a few moments of silence. It can be an hour or whatever you and your senior loved one can do. Read, enjoy a quiet activity like a puzzle, a word search, etc.
Festivus For The Rest Of Us Day – A secular holiday to combat the commercialism of Hannukah and Christmas and New Years! Festivus is a time to celebrate.
Outdoor Activity – The idea is to gather friends and family for a nice feast but without gifts or the pressures of having to decorate your home. So today could be a good day to have others over for an easy meal and give them time to de-stress.
Indoor Activity – A tradition on Festivus is to air your grievances. Today may be the day to do just that in a constructive way!
National Eggnog Day – Celebrate that delicious holiday drink, Eggnog today! You can drink it just as is or spike it with some alcohol. Even if you’re lactose intolerant (like me), you can still enjoy it with a delicious coconut milk Eggnog!
Outdoor Activity – Any outdoor venue by a fire would be a wonderful way to spend some time with family and friends while you sip on your favorite eggnog.
Indoor Activity – Pull out your family’s eggnog recipe and spend some time together making it. Or experiment with any of the hundreds of eggnog recipes online.
National Pumpkin Pie Day – In addition to Christmas, today is also National Pumpkin Pie Day and if you love this wonderful dessert, then today you can celebrate it.
Outdoor Activity – Consider making a pumpkin pie from scratch! That means getting a pumpkin and carving out the flesh to make the pie. But make sure to get the right kind of pumpkin. You want the ones that are called Pie Pumpkins! It’s really messy so if the weather permits, do the carving and cutting outdoors.
Indoor Activity – It may take a good amount of the day but consider making a pumpkin pie from scratch. Cook the pumpkin, roll out the dough and puree the cooked pumpkin and then bake the pie. Here’s a great recipe for that.
National Candy Cane Day – Today you should enjoy some of the candy canes that you got with your presents or that were on the Christmas tree, etc.
Outdoor Activity – If you’re up in the Michigan, northern Indiana area consider booking a trip with Santa’s Candy Cane Express!
Indoor Activity – Take the time today to rest. If you have energy for a game consider playing Candy Land! It’s a great game to play with the entire family and even seniors with dementia.
Howdy Doody Day – On this day in 1947, the famous puppet show Howdy Doody made it’s debut! It ran for 13 years! Most anyone from that era remembers Howdy Doody!
Outdoor Activity – There are many puppet museums across the world so why not take some time today to visit one of them.
Indoor Activity – Revisit some of those old shows on streaming channels or Youtube.
Endangered Species Act Day – A day dedicated to bringing awareness to saving the endangered species on our planet.
Outdoor Activity – A trip to the zoo or any kind of animal park would be a notable activity for the day.
Indoor Activity – Consider researching the list of endangered species and choosing an organization that is working to save them or even just one type of animal.
Tick Tock Day – Today’s holiday is meant to be a reminder that the year is coming to an end so if you have any “to do” items on your list for the year, today’s holiday is reminding you to get them done if you can.
Outdoor Activity – Go outdoors with a pen and a notebook and make a note of all the things that you would like to change about your home’s exterior.
Indoor Activity – There are some wonderful clock puzzles that you can work on with your loved one today. Just make sure not to choose one that is too difficult for their level of dementia.
National Bicarbonate Of Soda Day – My mother always gave this to us when we were younger and had a stomach ache. It worked so very well. It’s also known as baking soda and can be used for so many different things from cooking to cleaning.
Outdoor Activity – If you don’t yet have baking soda in your home (or just a tiny bit) then get out to the store and buy yourself a large box! Cause once you know all the different ways that you can use this great product, you’ll need a large amount!
Indoor Activity – Go online or on Youtube and search for all the unique ways to use bicarbonate of soda.
Make Up Your Mind Day – Get going on that idea you had last spring of pull the trigger finally on buying that new sofa. In other words, today is the day to get up and get going! Make a decision about what you’re going to do.
Outdoor Activity – If the weather permits, enjoy some time outdoors today at a coffee house and just sit back and people watch!
Indoor Activity – As the last day of the year, it’s a good time to gather your photos and stories of the year. Make up your mind as to what photos you will be using and make a scrapbook of the year.