Memory Cafe Activities for People with Dementia or Alzheimer's

Taylor Lamberta, creator of the Memory Cafe activities, riding an elephantBelow are complete Memory Cafe activities that were designed by Taylor Lamberta, LICSW (in MA and NY), and Caregiver Support Specialist. Besides starting a Memory Cafe, she also has ridden on an elephant in Thailand, ridden behind a dog sled in Alaska, swum with dolphins in Jamaica, and climbed Machu Picchu in Peru.

Feel free to use these activities at a Memory Cafe or at a family gathering. Click on each picture to reveal the contents of that particular activity. Once in an activity, click the back button to see all of the activities again. Some Memory Cafe's have free downloadable Bingo boards like the Garden and Luau Cafe's. Sign up for your newsletter to be notified when new content is online, and make sure you check back every month for new ideas and activities.

We do ask that you also share the Caregivers Matter app with your caregivers as well. The app helps build patience, perseverance, and peace in the caregiver. Instructions for downloading and using the app are available at this link.

Music Café

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A café filled with sound exploration. Click here for full details.

Music Café—A Café filled with sound exploration

The Music Café contains activities for a large or small group of people with dementia or Alzheimer's at a memory cafe, in an instutional setting, or at home with a small or large family consisting of people of all ages. 

Special Guest

We had a special guest Melissa Mills come and play ukulele and sing for our guests with a ukulele. 

Supplies

Other supplies:

About Supplies:

Shopping links are provided by Amazon, which makes it easy to see the type of product that we are talking about. Clicking any of the links will take you to Amazon. Please note that the Caregiver Program collects fees from Amazon for referring users if they purchase there. We use 100% of these fees to fund our Caregiver Program, including this website and our caregiver apps. You also can purchase any of these products at local shops as well.

Snacks

We usually incorporate a themed snack whenever it is possible or if it applies. 

We had our regular spread which consists of:

  • Coffee, tea and water.
  • Consider the time of your café, and any safety and dietary restrictions that may apply to your particular group.

Music Playlists

We used specific playlists for the activities below.

Participation

Guests were invited to take a maraca and plastic inflatable guitar.

Structure

Coffee, snacks and socializing.  During this time we played oldies music on youtube.
 
Name that Tune. While guests sat we played “Name that tune.”  During this activity I chose 10 recognizable songs and played them on youtube while covering the screen.  Here is the Playlist. Guests were encouraged to guess the song.  They were told that if they didn’t know the title, perhaps they could say the name of the artist or sing a line.  Many participants sang along as each new song came up.

Water Xylophone. Next we made water xylophones with the group.  I found this activity on pintrest and it was cheap and easy to set up.  I bought a case of large mason jars and set 4 jars down in front of each small group (we broke into four groups).  Next I filled each of their set of water jars to a different level.  Water levels ranged from ¼, ½, ¾ and almost full.  I came around with food coloring and let our guest squeeze the color of their choice into one of the jars.  Soon we had four jars with varying amounts of water and all a different color.  We arranged the jars in descending order.  I gave each group a rubber mallet.  Before striking the jars we asked if anyone could guess which jar would make the lowest pitch (the one with more water) and which jar would make a higher pitch (less water).  Finally, we told them to go ahead and play the jars.  You can create songs or simply run the mallet back and forth over the jars.

Musical Guest. We had a special guest Melissa Mills come and play ukulele and sing for our guests.  Melissa is a trained singer and she sang Smile by Charlie Chapman and other classic oldies.  The group listened closely, cheering when she finished.

Karaoke. Next we did our own karaoke.  The leaders sang songs to get the crowd going and then we invited them up to sing.  Only a handful of people “took the stage” but many guests sang from their seat, clapped and cheered us on.  I also lead group songs where all the staff sang and we walked around with the microphone encouraging guests to sing a line.  Here is the link to the karaoke playlist.  I would recommend choosing songs that have low vocals instead of absolutely no vocals as they were more challenging for guests.  It seems that due to timing and tempo, traditional karaoke with no words can be a little too difficult.
 
We wrapped up by telling the guests what next month’s theme was and staff cleaned up.

Pictures and Video

Musical Instrument cutout on table

Inflatiable Guitars at the Memory Cafe

A woman singing karaoke

A woman looking at the lyrics on the screen and singing

People taking at the Memory Cafe

Socializing at the Memory Cafe

The water xylophone at the Memory Cafe

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