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How Do we Keep Residents Active in Dementia Care Homes?

Posted Nov 11 2012 9:32am
People with dementia live in the moment. All it takes is one person in one moment to make an ‘activity’ or moment of engagement for the person with dementia – and that moment can make a world of difference.

By Monica Heltemes
Alzheimer's Reading Room


How Do we Keep Residents Active in Dementia Care Homes?
I had the privilege of speaking to a group of activity professionals and nursing assistants this past week on “Putting the ACT into Activities for Individuals with Dementia”.

Bob has told me in the past that he does have readers that are dementia care professionals, including some that are new to the profession.

I wanted to share what was discussed with this group both for the benefit of any dementia care professionals and also for caregivers who might be considering memory care placement at some point in time.


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Here are a few of the highlights
Activity is not a noun.

An activity is not solely an event or an entertainment or an item that is listed on an activities’ schedule. An activity is a verb – an ACTivity. It is an act of engaging or doing something. An activity can be laughing together, taking a walk, enjoying an ice cream cone, getting dressed. Engaging the person with dementia in tasks throughout the day gives a sense of purpose.

An activity does not need to be planned by an activity professional.

An activity for the person with dementia can happen with anyone they encounter. If all staff – including nursing, housekeeping, dietary, maintenance – can make a moment with the person with dementia they encounter, the person will have many moments of activity throughout the day. This will be activity outside of any planned activities scheduled by the activity department and could even occur in the evenings and overnight.

Setting the stage for opportunities.

Having tools or items that are easily accessed and ready to go can help create opportunities for activities throughout the day. Examples are jigsaw puzzles, simple trivia, cutting coupons, photo books/scrapbooks, and music. Both staff and family members, alike, can use these to engage the person with dementia.

People with dementia live in the moment. All it takes is one person in one moment to make an ‘activity’ or moment of engagement for the person with dementia – and that moment can make a world of difference.



Monica Heltemes is a practicing occupational therapist and owner of MindStart™. MindStart designs hobby-style items, such as games and puzzles, specifically for persons with memory loss. They keep persons with dementia active, while giving support to caregivers, and are quick and easy to use. Visit MindStart (Activities for Persons with Memory Loss) to learn more.

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Original content the Alzheimer's Reading Room
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