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.

Garden Café

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A café themed on gardening and flowers. Best in the spring. Click here for full details.

Garden Café—A café themed on gardening and flowers

The Garden Cafe 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

Mary Leblanc, a local florist and floral designer.

Supplies

Bingo:

  • Flower bingo cards (downloadable pdf document that you can print below)
  • Bingo chips

 

Bird Houses:

Flower Arrangements:

“Guess That Scent” game:

  • Herbs for smelling (fresh or dried) including Lavender, Basil, Thyme, Mint, Oregano and Parsley. (On Amazon: Lavender Tin )

Potting Flowers:

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.

This month featured:

  • Watermelon decorated cookies.
  • Homemade Arnold Palmer (half iced tea, half lemonade).

We also had our regular spread which consists of:

  • Coffee, tea and water.
  • Fruit, cheese, crackers, and pastry.

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

Music Playlists

This month we featured background music that had some type of flower in the lyrics. The song titles are available in this Youtube Flower Playlist.

Participation

The Garden Café required a fair amount of guest participation. As you will see in the “structure” section below, directions should be clear and broken down into small steps. Guests were assisted along the way by both their caregivers and café staff. Passive involvement and observation are always a welcome option for those who have more advanced memory impairment.

Structure

Coffee, snacks and socializing. Guests were greeted with a fun playlist of songs that all mentioned flowers or plants. The playlist was created on YouTube and played through our IN2L machine.

Guess That Scent —The first activity for this café was a game called “Guess That Scent.” I took several small plastic bowls and numbered them 1-6 on the bottom. Each bowl contained some fresh herbs, and I wrote down on a guide for myself which herbs corresponded with which numbers. I passed the bowls around and asked the participants to smell each bowl and try to identify what herb or spice it was. We used Lavender, Basil, Thyme, Mint, Oregano and Parsley. 

Potting Flowers—All of our tables were covered in brown parchment paper and we handed out a small pot filled a quarter of the way with soil to each participant. We then instructed that our guest, Mary, would be coming around to place a flower in each pot. Mary showed each person how to gently squeeze the roots to separate them a little and how to position the plant. Then we came around with cups of extra soil and filled in the space around the flower. Each person got to take their flower home to tend to.

We offered two choices in the following activity portion, and we asked each group member which they would like to participate in. One activity was to go with Mary and make flower arrangements, while the alternative was to stay with Taylor and make bird feeders out of Popsicle sticks.

Flower Arrangements—Mary is a florist and was brought in because she has expertise in the area. Prior to the start of the café, Mary cut colored cellophane and blocks of oasis (rigid foam usually green to put in each glass votive. She also precut the flower stems to the appropriate height for the votives. When it was time to do the activity she began by passing out the pre-arranged supplies and asked the participants to choose which color flowers they would like. Once everyone had the right amount of flowers for the arrangements, she showed them how to stick the flowers in the oasis and make a nice arrangement. The guests seemed to really enjoy the activity and had something absolutely beautiful to bring home.

Bird Feeders—First I watched some videos on how to make the bird feeders and constructed one by myself. Once I felt I had the hang of it, it seemed like a simple enough task for others to complete with step by step instructions. The base of the feeder was the trickiest part, and I was concerned that it might not dry fast enough, so that when we would go to build up the sides, that the sticks in the base might move. I addressed this concern by pre-building all of the bases and handing them out to the participants. (Note: I also opted to not use hot glue as I was concerned it could cause injury. The tacky glue worked well for building the sides.) Next I showed them one stick at a time how to gently lay them down to build up the sides of the feeders. Participants seemed to get the pattern or rhythm of it fairly quickly. Once the feeder was build I showed them how to tie string to each corner and then tie the 4 strings together in one big knot so the feeder could hang. One guest was especially proud that he built something on his own and could show off the final product. There are great instructions at: http://thecreativecubby.blogspot.com/2013/06/popsicle-stick-bird-feeder.html

Flower Bingo—with the crafts and socializing, we didn't have enough time to get to Bingo. However, if you choose to do only one of the above activities, you may want to incorporate the Bingo Game. You can download the pdf of all the bingo cards and callout cards in one pdf. Print on a color printer and bring chips to have the attendees put over the blocks.

 

Downloads

Download the Garden Bingo Boards.

The Garden Bingo boards are made to work as a dementia-friendly activity. The boards have pictures. It also includes large cards that can be held up to help people match an image that is called to an image on the Bingo board. 

If you like the download, please tell folks about our free Caregiver App!  The app helps build patience, perseverance, and peace in the caregiver. Instructions for downloading and using the app are available at this link.

 

Pictures and Video

 


Mary Leblanc, Floral Designer, Prepping Flower Stems

Prepping the square flower vases with floral foam and cellophane

Watermelon Cookies

Birdhouse decorations

Flower Arranging

Toasting with potted plants

Showing off potted plants

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