Dementia Patient Sits on the Bench for Hours: Is This Normal?

Have you ever noticed a neighbor or a loved one with dementia sitting on a bench for hours? It’s not an uncommon sight, as dementia affects millions of individuals and their families. In this blog post, I will talk about the reasons behind this behavior, the importance of engaging with dementia patients, and practical steps to improve their quality of life.

Is This Normal?

Elderly Man Sitting Alone

You might see someone with dementia spending a lot of time sitting on a bench, and you’re wondering if this is normal. The short answer is, that it can be normal for them. Let me explain why.

Dementia is a brain condition that affects a person’s memory, thinking, and the way they behave. People with dementia can sometimes have trouble remembering where they are or what they are doing. So, they might sit on a bench because they feel safe and comfortable there.

Imagine you’re in a big, confusing maze. Sometimes, you might stop and sit down to figure out where you are or what to do next. It’s a bit like that for someone with dementia. Sitting on the bench gives them a chance to take a break and try to make sense of their surroundings.

Also, people with dementia can get tired more easily. Walking around and doing things can be tiring for them. So, sitting on a bench can be a way for them to rest and recharge.

Now, it’s essential to keep an eye on them to make sure they’re safe. You can chat with them or offer a snack or a drink if it’s okay with their family or caregivers. It’s a way to show you care and help them feel more comfortable.

But if you notice something unusual or if they seem upset or in pain, it’s a good idea to reach out to their family or caregivers. They might need some help or medical attention.

So, if you see someone with dementia sitting on a bench for a while, it’s not uncommon. It’s their way of coping with their condition. Just be friendly, keep an eye on them, and offer a helping hand if needed. 

More on Dementia…

Dementia is a challenging condition that affects memory, thinking, and behavior. As a result, individuals with dementia often exhibit various behaviors that can be perplexing. One of these behaviors is sitting on a bench for extended periods. But what motivates this seemingly repetitive action?

Dementia patients sitting on benches can be a common sight in many places, such as retirement homes and even public parks. This behavior might seem peculiar, but it often serves as a coping mechanism. These individuals may find comfort in the simple act of sitting and observing their surroundings. It’s essential to understand that this behavior is entirely normal for dementia patients.

Moreover, sitting for prolonged periods can lead to health issues like bed sores. Encouraging movement is essential to maintain their physical health. So, as neighbors or caregivers, we must strike a balance between letting them sit and encouraging them to move.

Just Observe Them

Elderly Man Sitting on a Bench

If you notice a dementia patient sitting on a particular bench close to your home or in a nursing home, consider taking a moment to understand what draws them to that spot. There could be something specific that piques their interest, even if it seems trivial to us.

For example, there may be a beautiful garden, a friendly neighborhood cat, or a busy street with people-watching potential nearby. The surroundings may provide comfort and familiarity, making the bench an ideal place for them to sit.

This is your opportunity to engage with them and learn about what’s going on inside their minds. Observing their behavior and preferences can offer valuable insights into their world, which may be vastly different from ours due to their dementia.

What Can We Do About It?

1. Customize Their Experience

Understanding a dementia patient’s interests is the first step in making their bench-sitting experience more enjoyable. If they enjoy reading, consider offering to take them to a bookstore to purchase new books. Alternatively, you can provide reading material that they can enjoy while sitting on the bench.

2. Entertainment Options

For those who appreciate shows or music, think about providing a small portable radio or a music player that they can use during their bench time. You could even explore the possibility of setting up a small, portable TV near their favorite bench.

3. Culinary Delights

Find out if they have favorite foods or beverages. Instead of ordering in, offer to take them to pick up their preferred meals or snacks. Perhaps there’s a local coffee shop with a special brew they love or a supermarket with their favorite treats that can’t be delivered.

4. Outdoor Dining

Consider placing a table near the bench where they sit, so they can occasionally enjoy their meals outdoors. Sharing meals with them and engaging in conversation can be a great way to connect.

5. Simple Errands and Companionship

When you run errands or go outside, invite them to join you. It could be a trip to the grocery store, a visit to the nearby park, or a walk around the neighborhood. In doing so, you’re providing them with an opportunity to engage with the world and maintain a sense of normalcy in their lives.

Innovative Approaches to Dementia Care

In the United States, some remarkable and innovative approaches to dementia care can inspire us to better support our loved ones with dementia.

The “Fake Bus Stop” Concept:

One fascinating example is the use of a fake bus stop at a retirement home. This creative solution helps prevent residents with dementia from wandering off. While it might seem both smart and somewhat sad, it is highly effective. Residents waiting at the bus stop believe they are waiting for transportation, and this keeps them safe within the facility.

Here’s the YouTube video – The Bus Stop to Nowhere

Dementia Village Concept in Holland:

In Holland, there’s a nursing home designed as a village, complete with restaurants, beauty parlors, and a grocery store. This environment gives residents with dementia the feeling of independent living. To make it even more engaging, there could be a bus service within the facility, offering them the chance to wait at different locations while maintaining their safety.

Here’s the YouTube video – CNN’s World’s Untold Stories: Dementia Village

Talk To Them, Learn About Them

old man sitting on a Wooden Bench at the Park

Engaging with dementia patients can have a significant impact on their emotional well-being. Even though their memory may be fading, their need for connection and interaction remains strong. When we take the time to understand their preferences and make their environment more enjoyable, we’re enhancing their quality of life.

Moreover, engaging with dementia patients can provide us with insights and precious moments. Their unique perspectives, stories, and wisdom can be enlightening and heartwarming. So, it’s a two-way street – we can enrich their lives while gaining valuable life lessons ourselves.


In conclusion, if you come across a dementia patient sitting on a bench for hours, don’t dismiss it as a strange or meaningless act. Instead, embrace the opportunity to understand their needs and desires. Engaging with them can lead to mutually rewarding experiences.

Simple gestures like customizing their bench time, providing entertainment, exploring culinary delights, facilitating outdoor dining, and inviting them on simple errands can significantly enhance their lives. Innovative approaches, like the fake bus stop concept and the dementia village in Holland, can serve as inspiration for better dementia care.

Remember that despite the challenges posed by dementia, there is still much we can learn from and offer to those living with this condition. By taking the time to engage and provide care in creative ways, we can create a more compassionate and enriched environment for dementia patients.

Now, I invite you to share your experiences or thoughts in the comments section.

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