Positive Peer Re-Enforcement

I have a resident that is so soft spoken it is almost impossible to understand what she is saying.

Positive reinforcement can yield positive results
Positive reinforcement can yield positive results

In the past when she spoke it was completely undistinguishable.  Even speech therapy had stopped working with her.

However, her roommate is very patient with her.  She coaxes and encourages her to speak in a manner that is kind and caring.

Lately, I’ve noticed that this sweet lady is speaking more distinctly and louder.

It’s amazing what a little encouragement and love can accomplish.

What positive re-enforcements have you seen from peer interaction?

Power of Touch

I have several residents that are difficult to reach and many people don’t even try to get to know them.  I feel as if they are the ones missing out.

Touch can make a big difference in Alzheimer's
Touch can make a big difference in Alzheimer’s

One way to reach out to a bed bound, hard of hearing or comatose patient is through the power of touch.

  • Just a hand on their arm
  • a squeeze of the hand
  • a hand massage
  • a stroke of their upper arm
  • a pat of their foot

These are all ways the power of touch can work.  It doesn’t have to be for long, but even a minute of this can show you still care and connect you.

What way has the power of touch worked for you?

7 Tips for Planning Activities for Alzheimer’s

Working with Alzheimer’s patients, I am often challenged.  How do I find activities that are enjoyable and engaging for my residents?

Some tips to keep in mind are:dancing

  1. Focus on the enjoyment of the activity and not the results. I had one lady that would play checkers with me.  This mainly meant moving the pieces around the board.  We made up the rules as we went along.  Yet, she was enjoying herself so that’s all that mattered.
  2. Be aware of physical impairments, including sight and hearing problems
  3. Keep the individuals skills and abilities in mind
  4. Relate to activities that were previously enjoyable through either hobbies or work life
  5. Look for activities that are enjoyable for the person
  6. Set a schedule for when certain activities are conducted {this can even include meals and bathing routine}
  7. Consider the capabilities of the individual

What do you take into consideration when planning activities?

8 Simple Activities for Alzheimer’s

Even simple things are enjoyable for someone with Alzheimer’s. Often they can do these and there is not a lot of stress or expectation in these activities.

This can include:

Many Alzheimer's patients find joy in baby dolls
Many Alzheimer’s patients find joy in baby dolls
  1. Singing a song
  2. Clapping hands
  3. Playing with a baby doll
  4. Having an ice cream cone
  5. Enjoying a hand or shoulder massage
  6. Having a special treat
  7. A visit from a loved one
  8. Time with a child or pet

While this may seem very simple for us, for a person with Alzheimer’s it can be a big deal.  Such a simple act can be very special to our loved one.

What simple acts are special for your loved one?

10 Memory Stimulating exercises

Stimulating the mind and memory are great tools for dementia and Alzheimer’s patient.  Even in the most advanced stages they can do simple task.

The interest and ability of each person is different, however some suggestions are:

Music has a healing power
Music has a healing power
  1. Checkers
  2. Tic tac toe
  3. Cards—Uno, Old Maid, etc.
  4. Puzzles—even if it is the simple 10 piece puzzle
  5. Word Search Puzzles
  6. Fill in the Blanks—we will take a familiar hymn, song or piece of scripture and remove 1-2 words to allow the patient to fill in the blanks {ex. For God so loved the {world}; How {Great} thou art; Jesus love {me}}
  7. Music—often songs bring back memories of days gone by
  8. Computer based games such as Smartbrain
  9. Dominoes or Qwirkle
  10. Household Chores—this is great for more advances cased. Simple task such as folding socks or washcloths, planting seeds, mixing ingredients, dusting, etc.


What exercises do you use to stimulate the mind?

The importance of Fellowship and Outings in the Elderly

Just because we are getting older, does not mean we don't need fellowship with our peers
Just because we are getting older, does not mean we don’t need fellowship with our peers

We all need fellowship with our friends and peers.

I’ve met some families that long to constantly take family members out.  I’ve met other family members that refuse to take their family members out, although it is enjoyable for that person.

There are instances when it is not possible to have outings, such as if the person is bed bound.

However, short outings are encouraged for the elderly.

Doing so gets them out and about and allows them to interrupt with others.

Socialization is important for the elderly.  This is one of the benefits of adult day care, retirement centers or skilled nursing care.

However, even if a person is home bound short outings are still good for them.

These can include:

We all need fellowship
We all need fellowship
  • Going out to eat
  • Riding into town and back
  • A walk through nature {or a ride}
  • Having a friend visit
  • Family gatherings
  • Doctor visits
  • Personal Care Outings {Hair, Nails, etc.}

How do you help your loved one have fellowship and outings?

Caregiving Monday: 10 Activities for sensory stimulation with dementia

Are you looking for ideas for sensory stimulation with your loved one that has dementia?

Hand massages provides that personal touch and says I care
Hand massages provides that personal touch and says I care

If you’re not sure what I mean, sensory stimulation uses the five senses of sight, touch, hearing, taste and feel to hopefully evoke positive emotions.

I’ve discussed numerous activities with music, but what are some others that can be completed?

  1. Hand massage or shoulder massage—these are always a big hit when we do them in the nursing facility where I work. {touch}
  2. Relaxation satchel—these don’t have to be fancy and if your loved one is higher functioning s/he can assist you in making them. We used clean new or clean socks and filled them about half full with rice.  We then took drops of one essential oil {such as lavender}, added to the rice and mixed to spread the scent.  We then tied the sock off.  The sock could be used to provoke various memories or to calm an agitated loved one {especially if you use lavender}.    {smell}
  3. You can use a keyboard {or look them up online} to play various sounds and help your loved one recognize what they are. Some examples are a doorbell, train whistle, piano, car horn, etc.   {listening}
  4. Ice cream—this is a treat most people love and can evoke positive memories. Use the treat to reminisce.  {taste}
  5. Pictures—looking through pictures, reminiscing and discussing who each person in the picture is helps with memory recall {seeing}

    ice cream prompts positive memories
    ice cream prompts positive memories
  6. Bubbles—many of my residents love the bubbles. They enjoy both watching them and trying to grab them and make them pop.  This can be a lot of fun.  {seeing, touch}
  7. Flower arranging—the resident can look at the various flowers, sort them by color or type and smell the flowers. {seeing, touch, smell}
  8. Herbal tea party—fix a cup of hot tea and honey, milk, or sugar as desired.  Discuss the flavors found in the tea.    {taste}
  9. Shell discovery—hide shells in a small box or pail and have your loved one pick out different ones and discuss their differences. Even if it’s just how small or large they are this can be a fun activity.   {touch}
  10. Check out a DVD from the library of a place your loved one may have visited or lived in. Videos of scenery or animals are a great idea to discuss what s/he is seeing.  You could also look at pictures of these places s/he has and listen to a CD of music or sounds from that place.  {seeing, listening}

What are some sensory stimulation activities you have used?

Caregiving Monday: 10 Arts and Crafts Ideas for Senior Adults

At 90 years old, GG* still attends crafts at church each Tuesday morning.

GG has always loved crafts and enjoyed numerous projects over the years.  Although she’s not able to do as much as she once was, just the fellowship is good for her.

Some craft ideas are:

  1. Make a book—cutting out various pictures from magazines and writing memories that go with the pictures, they can create a
    Sand Art is a Fun and Enjoyable Activity
    Sand Art is a Fun and Enjoyable Activity


  2. Crochet/Knit—this is a popular pastime and even with numb hands, GG continues to occasionally pass the time in this way.
  3. Sand Art—I tried this with a group this weekend, and it was a huge hit.  They can mix and match an assortment of sand colors.  There are also numerous plastic containers that can be chosen and this is a very affordable craft.
  4. Flower Arrangements—whether the flowers are real or silk, this is a great idea for decorating a room or giving as a gift.  With dried flowers there are numerous other ideas such as potpourri and dried flower sachets.
  5. Bead Projects—GG has made bead dolls, trees, ornaments and other items with various beads over the years.  We still have many of these and they are beautiful.
  6. Blankets—there are great ideas for blankets, whether it is sewing one or creating a No Sew Fleece
    What better way to say "Thinking of You" than with a homemade card?
    What better way to say “Thinking of You” than with a homemade card?


  7. Collage—using the pictures cut out from magazines create a collage or memory board
  8. Make Cards—I love this idea, because who doesn’t love getting a card?  Cards can be made for numerous occasions from Christmas and Valentine’s Days to Thinking of You to Happy Birthday to Thank You Cards and much more.
  9. Color Decorations—whether it is coloring shamrocks for St. Patrick’s Day, cut out Valentines for Valentine’s Day, decorate Easter Eggs, or make candy canes there are numerous ideas for making and coloring decorations for use.
  10. Paint Bottles—again there are numerous ideas out there that can be used for decorations.


Join the Conversation: What other arts and crafts ideas can you think of?

*Name Altered

Caregiving Monday: 10 Simple Activities for Advancing Alzheimer’s

Are you looking for simple activities for your loved one?  Is your loved one in the middle to advanced stages of Alzheimer’s?

String items on a string...you may want to use edible items if you are concerned with being put in the mouth
String items on a string…you may want to use edible items if you are concerned with being put in the mouth


These are a fun ideas you may want to try:

  1. Folding—while you are doing laundry, ask to help you fold washcloths and socks.  If they are able to do more advanced folding, that’s also great.   Even if you have to redo these tasks, thank them and praise them.
  2. Stringing—take a handful of cheerios, fruit loops, etc. and ask your loved one to slide these on the screen.   Then you can either save them for Christmas {if it’s near} or put out for the birds to feed on.
  3. Sorting—gather a collection of buttons, rocks, spoons and forks, bottle caps, etc. and ask to sort these items.  One reminder is to make sure they do not place these smaller items in the mouth.
  4. Coloring—working with dementia patients, I discovered they love to color
  5. Play Dough—allow them to make something out of play dough or even clay.  This is a great activity for their hands.
  6. Name that….—whether you have a stack of pictures of Presidents, family members, friends or celebrities, you can play
    Cut out coupons, pictures, or scriptures. You may want to considerable child's scissors.
    Cut out coupons, pictures, or scriptures. You may want to considerable child’s scissors.

    “Name that Person” and ask to name.  If the loved one doesn’t know, give them gentle hints and prompts.

  7. Dolls—you can cut out and color paper dolls, or find a doll or stuffed animal your loved one can hold and cuddle.  We did this with one lady and just holding a doll helped her anxiety.
  8. Play Cards or Games—pick activities and games your loved one will enjoy playing and be able to follow and understand
  9. Roll a Ball of Yarn—take a ball of yarn and let your loved one roll it up into a ball
  10. Cut out pictures—give a magazine and ask your loved one to cut out pictures for you

Bonus Idea: What in the bag?—put a collection of various items in a bag and pull one out at a time.  Allow your loved one to touch and feel and tell you what the item is.


Join the Conversation: What other activities have you tried?


Caregiving Monday: 10 Activities with Music for Senior Adults

Do you wish you could find activities with music for your loved one?

When I go into nursing homes we often do various activities with music.  Many of these you can also do at home.

Balloons and balls are a great way to encourage movement
Balloons and balls are a great way to encourage movement

Here are a few ideas:

  1. Toss a balloon { or beach ball} back and forth during a song
  2. Purchase a set of rhythm sticks and keep the beat {could also clap hands}
  3. Use Scarves and make different movements to the music
  4. Egg Shakers—shake to the beat of the music  {or make your own using rice and beans}
  5. Assortment of Instruments—play different instruments during a song.  You could also use different containers and pots and pans for various tones.
  6. Dance—if your loved one cannot physically get up and dance, hold hands and slightly sway to the music {this is always a huge hit}
  7. Sing Simple Songs—remind your parents of when they taught you or your children songs.  Many love songs such as The Wheels on the Bus, Three Blind Mice, Incy Wincy Spider, etc.  You can also use the movements.
  8. Make Up Your Own Song—find a subject and make up a song about it, even if it is a song about items you see in the room

    Scarves is another great idea that has a number of uses
  9. Sing A Long—sing along to some of your loved ones favorite songs, whether it is hymns, Jazz, or oldies.  Sometimes I even use visual prompts for shorter songs where there is a picture for each word.
  10. Sing To Patient—sometimes just singing to your loved one or putting on a calming CD is the best medicine.  If your loved one easily becomes agitated, this might be a great way to calm the patient down.
  11. Bonus Item: Name that Tune—use familiar tunes and ask to name that tune.  It’s amazing what memories certain songs may prompt.


Join the Conversation:  What other activities can you think of with music?