By: Michelle Remold
I often hear that finding activities for those with Alzheimer’s and dementia is difficult. Sometimes people have told me, they just don’t know what to do for activities with them. I always think that we all have hobbies and activities that we enjoy. I love to read and have three lists of books that I would like to complete reading. My grandpa enjoyed woodworking, painting, and gardening. As his Alzheimer’s progressed he wasn’t able to do these things any longer, but my grandma still let him have a smaller form of his garden to work on while he was still at home. Since it was something he enjoyed, it was a fitting activity for him to participate in.
I think that it is important that different facilities get to know their residents so it becomes easier to find activities that they might enjoy. While in college, a friend and I volunteered at a local nursing home in Cedar Falls, IA. We volunteered to help residents bake on Thursday afternoons. There were a few residents with dementia that would come to bake with us. Everyone loved it. They would share stories about potlucks, baking with grandkids, or learning to bake from their mothers or grandmothers.
I have heard of and have seen different dementia care wings where the wing is set up like a town and they have different rooms that reflect places that one might find within a town. There are ice cream parlors, workshops, car shops, or salons that allow people to ‘work’ on things that they might have partaken in before. While having residents play catch maybe a fun activity, I think that it is important to have them engage in meaningful activities. If someone enjoys washing tables, let them wash the tables or let them set out the silverware at meal times. Maybe have them help plant flowers for a garden or make decorations for different holidays. Whatever it is, it is important to find the skills and hobbies that people have so it is a little easier to find and create various activities for those with Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Michelle graduated from the University of Northern Iowa with her Bachelor of Arts in Gerontology: Social Sciences and a minor in Family Studies. She is currently pursuing her Master’s degree in Aging Studies and Nursing Home Administration from Minnesota State University Mankato.