I am a proponent of doing more to help people engage with their surroundings. I’ve seen this done brilliantly in some homes and love passing it on. Since we can’t be with all residents all day, I like to take on the challenge of providing stimulation naturally with items that people encounter. Items that are normal and natural that adults would have around them. Toys and items meant for children sadly continue the stigma of dementia and are not normal for adults to have around their home….
I jump to ideas that can also meet the short attention that accompanies dementia. I have a very long list but two that I love starting with, particularly around a gift-giving time and with a new year coming, are clocks and calendars.
Everyone needs a Clock
When any of us look at a clock, we naturally engage with it and our brain helps us see what time it is. There are lots of different clocks. Be creative. If everyone in your community has the same clock, that is not the goal either. Think of cuckoo clocks, grand father clocks, the bird song clock, clocks that chime. Not only does one’s eyes naturally interact but this idea offers auditory engagement too.
Everyone needs a Calendar
If the only calendar residents have is the activity calendar, that is not having your own calendar. Just think of the many, many calendars out there. Don’t you wish you needed a calendar for every room in your house? They are beautiful. They match people’s personal interests. Again, when any of us looks at a calendar, there is engagement. My grandma used to check off each prior day the morning of a new day with a big X in the space. Perhaps you could use that or other creative ways to help one know exactly what day it is.
And then there is a special type of clock I’ve seen on the wall that tells you a lot of information: the year, the month, the date, the day of the week plus the time and whether it is AM or PM. Other than a small clock face telling the time, each of these sections flips if you can imagine what I’m trying to describe. Wow does that sound helpful to any of us particularly someone with cognition changes.
Clocks and calendars would be great Christmas gifts! Give the idea to families, Secret Santas and donors to consider as special presents this year.
Carmen Bowman, MHS, of Edu-Catering: Catering Education for Compliance and Culture Change is an activities/engagement/culture change consultant. As a regulator turned educator, she provides “be your own surveyor” training, also new or not-yet-qualified activity director consultation, and meaningful life coaching for the whole team. Training videos now available on https://www.patreon.com/educatering