A blue cloud being painted

Ideas to help a person with dementia to enjoy painting

Whether rekindling an interest or trying something new, there may be ways to continue painting as dementia progresses.

Painting can be a fun, creative activity for us all, including people living with dementia.

It can focus the mind on a single task – the smell of paint, feel of brush on paper and contrasting colours helps a person to be engaged in the moment.

Ways to paint 

The person may enjoy painting from memory – a familiar place, person or pet.

Some prefer to use an outline or a paint-by-numbers kit. Others like to paint something in front of them, such as fruits or flowers. 

Often, what you paint isn’t important. Mixing colours and painting shapes can be just as stimulating. 

Painting can be a way to express feelings or aspects of our identity. It can also be social – you could join a painting class or paint with younger family members. If it’s nice weather, you could paint outdoors. 

Painting for a purpose can provide a sense of achievement and boost confidence.

If someone enjoys DIY, there may be jobs they can do around the house – for example, giving old furniture a fresh coat of paint.

Or they could paint items that would be nice to give as gifts, like wooden toy kits. 

Making it work 

There are ways to adapt painting to suit a person’s needs. If they have limited mobility, large paintbrushes with grips could be easier to handle. 

Adjustable desk easels can help if space is limited. Aquapaints only use water, helping to avoid a mess while still producing colourful pictures, and are available from our online shop

Even people who haven’t used computers much before can enjoy using a painting app on a device with a touchscreen. 

What you said 

imthedaughter, on Talking Point, says,

‘I sent Dad some water painting sets. I know some are for kids but it requires very little dexterity to dip a brush and cover the surface, which reveals a pretty picture. 

‘There are a lot of sets available to buy and some aren't very suitable for adults, but there are some companies which make reusable sets designed for people with dementia. 

‘I bought a set called “classic vehicles”. It just has an outline and you “colour it in” with water and it reveals a classic car, bus, plane etc. I bought a bunch online and sent to the residential home to use for an activity. 

‘Dad didn’t used to paint, but he’s not good with anything fiddly, and he did used to like making things, so it seemed a good idea.’ 

WJG adds,

‘Play music! I lost my interest in art (probably because of atrophy to my parietal lobes) and got it back through listening to the music of my youth – the Beatles and the Stones.’ 

Dementia together magazine is for all Alzheimer’s Society supporters and anyone affected by the condition.
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1 comment

My dad has dementia but is painting everything in the house and not very well. He even painted the side of the microwave. His house is a mess. He paints things over and over again, changing colour, which is normally red or black. Cant stop him.