Trying out a range of activity products for people with dementia

From the October/November 2016 issue of our magazine, members of an activity group in south-west London test out jigsaws, Aquapaints and a Throw and Tell Ball.

It was a varied consumer panel session this time round as we took a selection of jigsaws, a set of Aquapaints and a ball game to an activity group at the Merton Dementia Hub in south west London. People with dementia and carers gave us valuable feedback on the products, all of which are available in our online shop.

The activities, designed for people with dementia, are intended to provide enjoyable ways to stimulate memories and conversation.

Activity games



The group tried out a range of Active Minds jigsaws, all of which featured specially selected images.

Marie said she has always liked jigsaws and does them at home. She appreciated having the picture on the box as a guide when working on her 24-piece lily pond puzzle. She said,

'I wouldn't be able to do it without the picture. Well I might do, but it would take me a very long time.'

Activity puzzle

Having completed the jigsaw, she commented that it looked 'beautiful'. 

Another of the jigsaws was a 13-piece cat puzzle that could be assembled on a special backing board, with guidelines designed to assist and encourage users. The cat image got Philomena reminiscing about an old pet, while Peter said that the guidelines were helpful for someone with dementia.

The puzzle is made of plastic, making it very durable, as noted by Philomena. She liked how firm the pieces were, as it meant the jigsaw couldn't be damaged easily.

Jim and Sara made relatively short work of their jigsaws, with Jim stating that his was 'not difficult'.


Aquapaints are reusable painting sets that allow people to create colourful pictures simply by brushing the page with water. As the water dries the image fades, ready to be used time and again.

Marie said that not having to worry about painting neatly within the picture's lines made the process much faster. However, Jim felt it was better if you challenged yourself to keep within the lines. Philomena said it was marvellous that the colours disappeared as the picture dried.


Sandra said she was 'thoroughly enjoying' painting, and happily repainted sections of her butterfly picture as they began to dry and disappear.

Adelaide and her daughter Alison said the Aquapaints reminded them of 'magic painting' books, although more colourful. Adelaide enjoyed the detail and bold colours of the Aquapaint images.

Harry took great care in completing a picture of a hot air balloon, painting each feature and pattern precisely. At the end he joked,

'I enjoy it, but I don't think it enjoys me!'

Throw and Tell Ball

Each panel on the Throw and Tell Ball asks about preferences or experiences. Players catch the ball and speak about a topic, for example a 'soap opera I'd watch' or 'food I can cook'.

The ball got all sorts of discussions going, including about hobbies, pets, food, teaching methods and even the price of football tickets. People were happy to get involved and share opinions, memories and experiences.

Throw and tell ball

Philomena said the game was very enjoyable, while Marie said,

'It encourages you to mix with people. There are lots of different things on the ball, different ideas.'

Alison said it was an excellent game that you could play with family at Christmas and so share your memories with them.

Group facilitator Helen felt that the soft ball is a good size and nice to hold. She said she would remove the label on the ball as it felt like it gets in the way, and others in the group agreed.

The Active Minds jigsaws are £14.99 each, while the Aquapaints are £14.99 for a pack of five. The Throw and Tell Ball is also £14.99. All prices are plus VAT, though people with dementia or other long-term conditions do not have to pay VAT on the paints and jigsaws.

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