Activity Preferences of persons with dementia: An examination of reports by formal and informal caregivers

Jiska Cohen-Mansfield*, Rachel Gavendo, Erin Blackburn

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Objectives: The aims of this study are (1) to describe the types of leisure activities preferred by persons with dementia in the past and present, as reported by family members and therapeutic recreation staff members, and (2) to examine the influence of demographic and functional abilities variables on the perceived current interest of persons with dementia. Method: Family members of persons with dementia and therapeutic recreation staff involved in the care of those persons completed an activities preference assessment concerning the persons with dementia. Participants were recruited from a nursing home and a senior day center. Family members completed the assessment for the past and present, and staff members completed the assessment for the present. Results: For present preferences, music was the most often preferred activity according to both family and staff, followed by reminiscence and reading, while the least desirable activity was cooking/baking according to family and trivia games according to the staff. Current preferences were significantly related to past preferences. Gender was also related to preference for some activities. A significant reduction in preference from the premorbid past to the present was found for music, reading, and cooking. Additionally, the number of activities persons preferred as reported by both caregiver groups was affected by dementia. Family members tended to report lower preference levels for the activities in the present in comparison to the staff, and they were also more likely to report not knowing the present level of preference than therapeutic recreation staff members. Conclusion: The assessments by both therapeutic recreation staff members and family members shed light on leisure preferences of persons with dementia, while the varying reports reflect a possibly different perspective of the two caregiver groups.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2036-2048
Number of pages13
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2019


FundersFunder number
Rotman Family and the Morris Justein Visiting Scholars Program
Minerva Foundation


    • dementia
    • family caregivers, person centerd care
    • formal caregivers
    • informal caregivers
    • leisure activities


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