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Activities for People with Dementia

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Nature Lovers
submitted by Daphne of Gem Health

Statement of Purpose: To elicit positive emotions in residents, especially those with dementia. To foster communication with residents by providing a focal point for discussion.

Program Goals: Residents participating in the program will:
1. demonstrate positive emotions by smiling or laughing in response to pictures presented to them.
2. interact with programmer and/or others in the group in an appropriate fashion, by talking about the picture, pointing at the picture or responding verbally to the picture.

Entrance Criteria:
This program is appropriate for residents who will interact with programmer and/or other residents in a one-to-one or small group setting.

Exclusion criteria:
This program is not suitable for residents who do not respond to the pictures, who are not able to attend to the pictures, or who damage the pictures; i.e. put pictures in their mouths, tear pictures, etc.

Exit Criteria:
Loss of interest or of ability to respond to pictures.

Large pictures or photographs of babies, baby animals, flowers, birds, wild animals, etc. Protective sleeves in which to place pictures. Hand sanitizer to use before handling pictures.

Staff and or volunteers will sit with residents in a one-to-one or small group setting. Staff will begin by asking resident if they would like to look at some pictures, or asking “May I show you some pictures?” Staff will present pictures one at a time and watch resident's response to each picture. If resident responds positively to picture, staff will make comments about the picture, such as: “Isn't that cute?; Look at this cute baby”, etc. Staff will watch the reaction of the resident and continue looking at/talking about the picture as long as resident is attending and exhibiting positive emotions (smiling, laughing, commenting on picture). Staff will continue to present pictures one at a time for as long as resident shows an interest in the pictures. Staff will make note of which types of pictures elicit responses from which residents, so that the program can be modified for each resident.

Expected Program Outcomes:
Residents will exhibit positive emotions, laughter and appropriate comments in response to pictures of animals, babies, food, etc. Residents will interact with staff and other residents in response to the pictures.


Sensory Hands
submitted by Cynthia Soucy, CTRS of Harborside Healthcare Willowson April 30, 2005 

Size: any size, but preferably no larger than 14

Equipment: washcloths, lotion (regular from facility or sometimes I use aroma therapy lotion from Bath and Body Works), music for calming and relaxation, a basin, warm water, and small garbage bags, Purel

Objective: Objective is to calm the patients down in the morning after breakfast and treatment and for more individualized attention.

Description: The activity is simple but rewarding. At my facility I do this on Tuesdays and Thursdays with my dementia patients. This was started by one of my co-workers.

Put on the music in a private room, preferably a room with a sink.

Next fill up a large basin with very warm water. Put in your washcloths to get them nice and warm. Place one of the garbage bags next to the basin/sink for used washcloths.

Then, one patient at a time, take a washcloth and cover the persons hands for about a minute. You will instantly see their faces relax. I also use this time to orient them to what day it is. Put the used washcloth into the "garbage" bag. Then put lotion on the patients hands and give them a hand massage. If you are using the aroma therapy lotion, allow them to smell it. I like the relaxation or awakening lotions because they really seem to have a good effect on the patients mood.

Continue this until all of the patients are taken care of, and then return them to the activity room. Make sure to wash your hands between each patient or use Purel! It is all about infection control. Also have fun!

Feeling Useful
Submitted by Michelle Renigar on January 22, 2004

1) Hand Towels / Washcloths (dollar store)
2) Wide square (low) laundry basket that will fit on the seat of a chair

Objective: this ""project"" works wonders for my father who has moderate dementia.... he feels useful, thinks he ""has a job"" and believes he's helping his caregiver... this task is performed daily and he looks forward to it

- clear a work space - dinner table
- place unfolded towels on table
- place laundry basket on a chair next to loved one

Table Ball
submitted by Natasha Pokorny of Nesconset Nursing Center on January 31, 2000

Size: 10-20

Equipment: Tables that line up together and a ball (preferably a bright color).

Objective: The objective Table Ball is: improved hand eye coordination, socialization, attention span, following of simple directions.

Description: This activity is recommended for residents with Alzheimer's. Place tables end to end (enough to fit about 10 or more people all the way around). Place the ball (we use a bright red one) in front of one of the residents and tell him/her to roll it to someone else at the table. Encourage each resident to keep the ball moving on the table. It should be natural for them. Alzheimer residents in my facility can play this game for an hour before getting tired. It definitely lessens agitation.

NOTE: not all Alzheimer residents can play this game depending on what stage of Dementia they have. Place those more capable next to someone who might have difficulty and encourage them to help each other. This increases the socialization. Call out names often to refocus.

Shopping Scavenger Hunt
submitted by Debra Ekstrom of Geriactives on June 1, 1999

Group Size: 1-20

Equipment: scissors, sale ads from Sunday newspapers,plastic trays

Objective: I work with participants that have Alzheimer's/dementia. The objective was to create a fun yet learning experience. Most have no idea what things cost these days.

Description: Collect sales ads from several Sunday papers. Pass ads and scissors out to everyone. Also give them a list of items to search for: example-
1. tent
2. baby diapers
3. blue dress

I typed out over 50 items to search for. I had volunteers assisting them if they needed help. If they were unable to cut out the items, a volunteer would do this. The participant would cross off the items on their list as they found them. Items found on the hunt were placed on a plastic tray. A count was taken at the end of the activity and the person with the most items was the winner. They would share their ads with others and ask if anyone had ones they needed.
The interaction was fantastic. Even my low functioning people could participate. It was a fun activity....

Note: I need to add that the higher functioning people can search for the highest or lowest priced items. Also, the cut out ads can be saved for a collage as a later activity.

Please submit other activity ideas for others to use.



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