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Different Ways to Celebrate Father's Day when Dad has Dementia

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Our fathers are our heroes for all that they have done for us. From building those tiny tree houses for summers to ensuring you were picked up on time for your music classes—our fathers have lovingly cared for us since childhood.

Father's Day provides us with the opportunity to say thanks, especially to dads who have dementia. This may be the perfect time to sit down with him for a cup of coffee and reminisce about those beautiful memories you spent together. We understand it’s hard to plan things if your father lives in a care facility or is unable to spend too much time outdoors. But we’re here to help.

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Here are 15 Father’s Day activity ideas that can work well for dads with dementia

Get the grandchildren involved:

Have the grandkids come together and do a little tribute performance for your dad. Even an arts and crafts project is a fun thing to do with your dad at home on Father’s Day. Either way, your dad will love their company and oodles of energy.

father's day activity ideas - Get the grandchildren involved

Create a slideshow of family events and memories:

Collect family holiday photos and events from the past and make a slideshow for your dad with him as the center of attention. He will love a family screening of the slideshow with everyone around.

Help him with some odd jobs around the house:

Your dad will appreciate some help with odd jobs that he’s been putting off because of reasons such as mobility issues. Offering a helping hand to wash the car, weed the garden, mow the lawn or fix a broken light bulb can speak volumes in terms of how much you care.

Cook him a special meal:

This is another great way to celebrate Father’s Day with the whole family. Cooking your dad a big family meal with everyone sharing around a table will make his day.

Have a relaxing barbecue with friends and family:

Have your dad sit back and watch the grandchildren play in the garden while you fire up the grill with some burgers and hotdogs to make him feel extra special.

Put a photo album together:

Sit down with a coffee and ask your dad to join you in putting a photo album together. He will enjoy selecting the photos and talking about them while you give him your undivided attention. Describing the photos to him can set you up for some great conversation and perhaps even trigger some memories for him.

father's day activity ideas - put photo album together


Write down all the things you appreciate about him and read it aloud to him:

A great way of letting your dad know how much you mean to him is to tell him directly. Reading aloud a list of wonderful things about him with ideas from your family can make him feel extra special.

Play his favorite board game or a game of cards while enjoying a beverage:

This is another way of giving your dad all your attention and care. Be sure to commit to a whole afternoon with him and leave your cell phone behind.

If your father is able to spend time outdoors, you can take him out to make him feel special:

Go to a concert where his favorite singer or band is performing:

Whether your dad remembers his favorite band or not, taking him to a place where he’s had good times can trigger memories and the emotions associated with them. It is said that music has the power to bring back emotional memories.

Go to a baseball game or a favorite sports event:

If your dad is a sports lover, he will enjoy cheering with the crowds at an energy-packed sporting event, even if it’s just little league baseball!

Go fishing together:

Enjoy sitting at the riverbank with some sandwiches and a beverage in hand while the two of you take in all the joys of fishing together. Make sure your dad equips himself with the right gear. Keep his protection and needs in mind at all times.

Play a game of golf:

If your dad loves a challenge, challenge him to a game of golf. This is a great way to spend the day with him and make him feel special. Make sure you start early in the day to escape the midday heat.

Go hiking in the countryside or have a picnic:

For those who love nature, hiking outdoors or having a picnic in the countryside is a great Father’s Day celebration idea. Make sure your dad can walk the distance. Be prepared in case of an emergency.

Take him and the family to the movies:

If your dad likes a grand outing with the family, a trip to the cinema with all the trimmings, including popcorn, will be great fun.

Go for a long drive through the countryside:

For dads who can't quite bear a long walk in the countryside, taking him for a car drive with the windows down is equally enjoyable. If the countryside isn't his thing, maybe consider a tour through the city to see all the famous sights.

father's day activity ideas - go for long drive

Another way of showing your appreciation is by giving him a gift. Of course, what you choose to give him depends on what stage of dementia he’s in. And it can get difficult to find the right gifts for dads with dementia. Here are some ideas that could help:

Early stages of dementia:

  • A jumbo puzzle or a crossword book can stimulate his brain and maintain cognitive health.
  • A DVD of a good movie or documentary that the two of you can spend time watching together.
  • A nifty device can make his life easier, such as a reacher or grabber, an easy jar opener, a shower or bath chair, or devices like step2tub or step2bed.
  • A set of good speakers or music system for him to enjoy listening to his favorite tunes.

Mid-stage dementia:

  • A smart alarm clock that not only displays the date and time but also sets gentle reminders.
  • A simple board game or puzzle to keep him cognitively engaged.
  • A digital photo frame that can display a customized set of photographs.

Late-stage dementia:

  • A cozy bathrobe and slippers.
  • An assortment of fine chocolates or treats.
  • A comfy deck chair and umbrella to place on the patio so that your dad can enjoy getting some fresh air and sunshine.

Keep in mind that whatever you plan to do with your father will depend on what stage of dementia he is in. Whether he’s in the early stages and still quite aware or towards the middle and later stages where it’s difficult for him to go about his daily life, you will need to modify your plans to suit his specific needs. Nonetheless, this will be time well spent.

Happy Father’s Day!

Vince Baiera

Vince Baiera is the founder of step2health, a mobility aids and wellness company for older adults. He is a former ICU Nurse of the Cleveland Clinic and Duke University Hospital in the Cardiac ICU. With years of working on the frontlines, Vince noticed the struggles of older adults and people with mobility issues that became an impediment for both patients and their caretakers. He then designed and created the patented product, Step2Bed (and its variants) that helps seniors and those with mobility issues safely get in and out of bed. His philosophy concerning aging is to plan ahead and start with simple home and life modifications to avoid being overwhelmed at retirement.

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