Reflections' Memory Care Activities

By Jennifer Walls, Life Enrichment Coordinator
Wednesday September 01, 2021
Categories: Assisted Living, Memory Care
Tags: Memory Care Activities, Memory Care, Living with Dementia

Reflections Memory Care Activities program, icon with heart in hands

Humans are multifaceted beings. While we all have basic needs of food, water, shelter, and clothing, we are so much more than that.

The same is true for those living with dementia. 

A Whole Person Approach

In Reflections Memory Care, we focus on 6 specific areas of mental and physical wellness: Intellectual, Social, Environmental, Spiritual, Emotional.

When we address the whole person by meeting these needs, we show respect and dignity for their individuality.


Intellectual

Icon showing puzzle pieces coming together
Preserving and engaging the person at each individual level. In our Great Start Meeting we begin the day with orientation. To some individuals the date matters, to others it doesn’t. Either way, they enjoy listening and being present. We discuss "this day in history" events, we read and discuss poetry, and play games such as “Name 5”. In this game, players name objects that correlate to a particular subject - 5 things you’d find in a kitchen, for example. A while later, during “Me Time”, we offer individual activities to meet that person’s specific intellectual needs. These activities are chosen by the individual – depending on their interests, they may choose word puzzles, reading material, or word and trivia games.


Social

Descriptive icon showing social characters in a circle
Our Memory Care floor is a very social environment. One of the largest contributing factors to the progression of dementia is isolation. Our residents eat their meals together in the dining/family room, with usually 2 or more people seated at a table. Dining in a congregate setting not only provides opportunities to socialize but can help increase apatite as well. Our program is designed to promote interaction between the residents themselves and the supporting staff.

Another helpful way to avoid isolation and loneliness is by having a roommate. In fact, we have found that sharing a room is particularly comforting for those who come from large families because they may have done so growing up.


Environmental

Decorative icon of a house with heart and plant inside


Setting the mood. Think of a favorite restaurant you’ve been to, is it just the food that makes it someplace special? How does the ambience make you feel? A great deal of planning and thought goes into the development of a successful and enriching Memory Care Environment. Each one of the five senses is integral in meeting a person’s needs: sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch.

Our energetic morning program, "The Buzz", starts the day with cheery morning greetings as the residents are finishing their breakfasts. The music is upbeat, the smells are fresh and energizing and the lighting is bright, with lots of outdoor sunlight filtering in.

In the later afternoon hours, some people living with dementia may experience increased confusion or an upset in their internal body clock – referred to as sundowning. With this in mind, as the afternoon progresses, we slide into our "Afternoon Mellow Mood". The music is quieter, usually instrumental, with serene scenes scrolling through on the TV – similar to digital photo albums. The lighting is a little more muted, and voices are quieter. Afternoon activities are more serene and calming – items such as therapy dough, water manipulatives and nail spas are some of the items residents will choose.


Physical

Decorative icons of characters exercising


We know that staying physically active is a vital part of maintaining health and wellness, but that doesn't necessarily mean we all jump at the chance to exercise. Those living with dementia can feel the same way. However, when it’s disguised as a fun activity, we may not realize we're actually exercising because we’re too busy having fun.

This is the approach we use in keeping our residents physically active - with a program we call "Jump & Jive". Chair Kick Ball is a great example, players sit in chairs arranged in a large circle and kick a large exercise ball back and forth. This game is one of our residents’ favorites – always lots of smiles in that circle! Chair Dancing, Music and Movement, Parachute Toss, Balloon Bop, Noodle Hockey are a few other examples of games we use to keep residents physically active.

In addition to these activities, we also have SeniorFIT group exercise classes – which are taught by our Fitness Trainers with Symbria.


Spiritual

Decorative icon of characters praying


Meeting the needs of the soul. Each week, Bob Peltier, Chaplain for our Phoenix campus, shares worship music and leads Bible Study in an interactive way that engages residents. Each morning, as part of our Great Start Meeting, we share a morning devotion with the residents.

In order to successfully meet the spiritual needs of all of our residents, we make sure to speak with residents’ families, so we understand each individual’s religious or spiritual needs and preferences.


Emotional

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Comfort and affirmation. The need to be heard, affirmed, and feel comforted is universal. The journey with dementia can be an anxious road to walk, for both the individual and their family. Each person has a need to communicate and feel validated, even if what they are saying doesn’t make sense to those around them. Our staff is well trained and adept at soothing anxieties and redirecting conversations - which leads to a more positive outcome for the resident. Each day, we include a 15 minute meditation to help quiet the mind and promote emotional wellbeing.

In Reflections Memory Care, we are dedicated to serving our residents. We are continually learning, adapting, and growing – searching for new and better ways to serve them. As new methods, technologies and creative solutions come to light, we incorporate them into our program – always with a whole-person approach.


Photo of Jennifer Walls, Life Enrichment Coordinator, Oasis Assisted Living PhoenixJennifer Walls is the Life Enrichment Coordinator for Reflections Memory Care, The Oasis Assisted Living and Manor II Assisted Living on the Phoenix campus.

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