Ann took advantage of some of the long-term care home’s recreation programs. For instance, she got access to materials the home used for its gardening program so that she could sit with her mom as she contentedly transplanted and deadheaded various plants. The home also had a cooking program. Although her mom had little interest in cooking, Ann found that they could enjoyably pass the time together making sandwiches.
Ann created a number of activity boxes as well. She got many of her activity ideas from the long-term care home’s recreation team. She just downsized them for her mom’s personal use. Here’s what the boxes contained:
- Her mom’s personal activity box held items that were of interest to her (hair roller, wooden spoon, cookie cutter). Their purpose was to prompt conversations that would lead to the re-living of memories.
- Another activity box held fidget items:
- balls of yarn that Ann and her mom were forever winding or unwinding as they talked
- plumbing “creations” made with interlocking plastic PVC pipes
- stuffed animals with baby brushes for grooming
- a stretchy tube that Ann’s mom was always trying to swat her with
- a homemade bling box that rattled and had drawstrings that pulled every which way
- Other boxes contained hands-on activities that gave visitors and staff something to do with Ann’s mom:
- coupon clipping
- artificial flower arranging
Ann also left index cards laying around that prompted visitors or staff members to ask her mom the question written on it. This would result in her mom recounting a story she enjoyed repeating such as Ask about the day a boy fell out of the bedroom window of one of her five daughters!
In order to make sure that staff at the home knew as much as they could about her mom, Ann gave them an “All About Me” booklet. She downloaded a blank copy of the booklet from the Alzheimer Society of Canada and filled in all sorts of details about her mom, including things about her past, her likes and dislikes, and her normal routines.
In the end, her efforts didn’t just help her reconnect with her mom; they helped others relate to her as well.
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