Why Don’t We…?

Posted on February 15, 2017 by Anne Ellett

Often when working with LTC and Assisted Living communities, I am asked how they can improve their Activities program. I usually begin by taking a look at what is currently being offered – and often, it is “activities”, rather than  meaningful engagements – there’s a big difference!

“Many think it is the disease that causes us to withdraw, and to some extent I believe this is true. But, for many of us, we withdraw because we are not provided with meaningful opportunities that allow us to continue to experience joy, purpose and engagement in life.” 

This quote from a study entitled, “Just Dance with Me”(1) speaks to the desire for purpose and engagement, rather than passive entertainment.  Don’t get me wrong, we all love a great singer or musician to entertain us, but Dean Martin impersonators don’t really deliver on purpose and meaningful engagement.

So how can you structure your Engagements to offer purpose and engagement with life?

  1. Consider that meaningful engagements can be spontaneous – they don’t need preparation, but rather they are based on knowing the individual preferences and retained abilities of the individual.
  2. Meaningful engagements make the individual feel successful – no trivia questions please!...I can never come up with the answers for those!
  3. Meaningful engagements are designed to create a “normal” environment – we’re not pretending we’re on a cruise ship where there is a calendar of constant entertainment and activities. Rather engagements offer opportunities to develop and grow and have purpose.

 So why don’t we…?

  1. Allow your team to bring their children to work so your residents living with dementia can help nurture them?
  2. Foster some rescue animals from the local animal shelter?
  3. Facilitate the residents to be outside for part of every day, except in extreme weather
  4. Start developing “bucket lists” with the residents?
  5. Have lunch outside on the patio?
  6. Have “Happy Hour” once a week with wine and appetizers?
  7. Cook a Sunday Brunch with mimosas and Eggs Benedict?
  8. Facilitate the residents to write poetry and hold a reading in your community?
  9. Do a yoga group with the residents in a local park?
  10. Facilitate the residents to write a book and have a book signing at your community?
  11. Give the residents cameras to take on outings and then have a photo exhibit in your community?
  12. Invite a preschool to join the residents for snack every day
  13. Form a dog walking club
  14. Have multi-sensory cooking classes?
  15. Develop an onsite organic farm
  16. Ask them, “How would you…?”

Form partnerships with your residents living with dementia and just have fun!

1: Just Dance with Me: an authentic partnership approach to understanding leisure in the dementia context”; World Leisure Journal;

Vol. 54, Issue 3, September 2012, 240-254

If you work in Assisted Living and want
To make your dementia care program even better,
Or if you need assistance in
Planning care for a loved one,
E-mail or call me for a free consultation

Have a great day!

Anne Ellett, N.P., M.S.N.
949 933-6201

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