An individualized, well-planned activities program is at the heart of quality living for residents in nursing homes or assisted living residences. Activities are no longer just about bingo and watching television. In fact, activity programs are best if they are creative and stimulating to the mind. The health and wellness benefits of a good program are becoming more and more documented. In short, energy and focus in this area pays off.
Some great and creative ideas and projects are:
CAPTURING LIFE STORIES
There’s an old saying in journalism, “Everyone has a story.” Activity directors know this to be true. How do you draw out the fascinating tales of your residents’ lives in a way that preserves and shares their unique story? How do you help them to tell this story? One way is through conversations around their life’s travel. Where have they been? What is this favorite vacation spot? What is the most fascinating place they have ever experienced? Where would they still like to explore?
MEMORY CARE Sight, smell, sounds, touch all invoke memories. An effective activities program that incorporates memory care can really add to the quality of life of elders. Engage your residents to share their favorite things and their memories of them.
Memory Mats are table mats that use personalized photos and words to evoke memories and start conversations.
USING FOOD TO EVOKE MEMORIES
Nothing says home like the smell, sight, and taste of a familiar food. A report on National Public Radio found that Mom's comfort food evoked more of childhood than photos or favorite toys. Develop a cookbook of your residents favorite recipes and cook/bake them to celebrate birthdays and special occasions.
SUMMER SCHOOL FOR SENIORS
Establish a summer school-like program that can take place during the down time of regularly scheduled activities, offering classes in the summer including things like; gardening, belly dancing, foreign languages, flower pressing, photography, arts and crafts etc.
Whatever you do, try to incorporate new and interesting activities and experiences. Your residents will benefit from the interaction, memory stimulation and pure enjoyment of them and you will benefit from their excitement and engagement.