An Activity for Dementia

Exercises observation skills, verbal flow, the understanding of abstract concepts, and of the emotional state of others, enhances positive emotions and their expression (verbally and non- verbally) and promotes the sense of self.

  • We see a text. It has the word ‘Happiness’ in it many times.
  • Still, there are some words ‘hidding’ there as well. Can we detect the differend words? (17)
    • Beauty, Smile, Laugh, Joy, Hug, Imagination, Excitement, Cheerful, Creativity, Love, Sea, Art, Life, Nature, Family, Light, Inspiration
  • Create a sentence with each word:
    • Create sentences that are related to you with the words:
      • Smile, Joy, Hug, Love, Sea, Life, Nature, Family
    • Explain the meaning of the words (or provide examples):
      • Beauty, Laugh, Imagination, Excitement, Cheerful, Creativity, Art, Inspiration
    • Find derivatives from the words:
      • Joy (joyful, enjoy)
      • Imagination (imaginative, imagine)
      • Creativity (create, creation)
    • Find the words with opposite meaning:
      • Laugh (cry)
      • Joy (sorrow)
      • Love (hate)


  • What does a crying face look like?
  • What does an angry face look like?
  • What does a laughing face look like?
  • What does a happy face look like?


  • What kind of emotion are you experiencing now?
  • How does this emotion look like? How is it expressed in the face and the body?
  • Can we draw that emotion in the face we have before us?
    • What will the eyes look like?
    • What will the eyebrows look like?
    • What will the mouth look like?
    • What kind of colors can we use?



  • Appropriate for early and middle stages of dementia
  • Can be conducted individually or to a group
  • The explanation of terms part can be confusing and difficult. We should not have unattainable goals, the point is for the person to have a general sense of the meaning of each word, and be able to generally express that
  • Creating sentences may also pose a challenge- we could help through providing examples and new ideas
  • We promote the emotional expression of the person, yet we do not force it
  • We might show how a crying/ angry/ laughing/ happy face look like, and ask the person to do the same. Focus on the expression, and imagine
  • If there is not enough time, the activity can be broken down into two consecutive sessions (in the second session make sure to remind specifically what was done)
  • During the activity we can listen to some music (in low volume)
  • The coordinator can have a copy of the activity, and provide another copy to the person (in larger fond in order to be easily read). This promotes a sense of agency, and allows the therapeutic dyad (or group) to maintain a folder of all the important things being done during the sessions, and to be able to look back to it
  • Material Necessary:
    • colors (solid preferably- markers, crayons, coloured pencils)
  • Potential Homework: Make a few copies of the faces and ask the person/ group to draw different emotions on them. Provide homework if the person is willing- there is no need for pressure
  • The activity is accompanied by a poster
    • The poster can be hanged in a wall to remind us of our activities, and bring the person/ group to the ‘here and now’
    • This is particularly important for individuals in clinical settings where they have a chance to personalize their space, and show the rest of the staff and residents the importance of their work
  • The face vectors are specifically created for this activity by the artist A. Adamidis
  • The ‘Happiness’ page is inspired by the artwork of the artist Iakovos Volkov
Click here to download all activity sheets
Activity shared by: Sylva Sarafidou, Psychologist