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My mother is still very high functioning but bored to death in a facility too busy with incontinent residents to have time to do activities. She spends most of her day sitting in front of a t.v.

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My mom always enjoyed crossword puzzles. About three months ago, I found she was having a difficult time completing even simple ones. Now, I keep a cigar box filled with Scrabble letters (Bananangram letters, actually) at the table and she occupies herself for HOURS creating words and, on good days, "crossword puzzles." She finds great pleasure in creating long words. It's interesting. She has a difficult time finding the right words to use in conversation, but has access to a huge bank of words if given time and space.
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I have had the privilege of caring for folks with Alz disease. I think it is important to do things they enjoy. Most of the time they will enjoy doing things they always did maybe just on a somewhat simplified level. My Mother loves to read and she still reads I do not know how much she comprehends but she still enjoys it. Puzzles appeal to some folks and can be fun. We had a United States puzzle at the respite center this helped with memories of where we had lived where we had traveled. One of our gentleman always wanted to put in Oregon...
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The memory care facility that my husband goes to for short respite stays (4-8 days) has an activities director. The place is small (they can accommodate a maximum of 15 residents in 15 private rooms) and the activities that are planned take place in the living room or outdoors. Activities include cooking projects, word games, musical activities, etc. My husbands favorite activities are when they have pet therapy where one of a number of dogs are brought in for the residents to interact with. The dogs in particular, are wonderful. My husband's day program, in addition to music and exercise activities, occasionally has Sweet Readers sessions which only the higher functioning clients can participate in. Sweet Readers pairs a person with Alzheimer's Disease/dementia with a middle school student. The pair write poetry together or do an art project. Often they take the group out to a museum here in NYC where they look at and discuss the art. Sweet Readers is a wonderful program which, like the dogs, my husband particularly enjoys.
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A father in a memory care facility (or other facility) if he has use of his upper extremities might enjoy a toddlers hammer and peg toy and wrenches (no screws of anything small that they could swallow and choke on).
Alot of research has also been done on the positive effects of have a doll (female population)...some prefer stuffed animals (my mother does not). I do have a stuff bunny that plays "Jesus loves me" which I put next to her ear when she is tucked into bed. It's a very short version but neverthless.
Therapy dogs are wonderful as well if the facility provides same. Play doh for the hands?
I attempt to purchase items for mom that would not require supervision such as toddler books both hard back and soft types.
Teething rings are soft and fun to hold and fiddle with. Rolling a ball across a table from one resident to the other is fun (not too small yet not too big). The lists are endless simply think toddlers and children (and some soft safe baby items).
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My mother's AL was chosen because of it's activities. . .and location. To start the week, there is a pastor of a local church that gives a sermon and some good 'ole time gospel music. There is also bible study twice a week. The activities director has a choir that sings the good gospel, patriotic and popular (for their age group) songs. There is a Domino team that plays off and on all week not to mention the classic BINGO. The activities director works with the ladies at mid week by fluffing up their hair and touching up the finger nails. There is an activities room with jig-saw puzzles, arts and crafts, and painting classes . Residents help by making sure the dining table flower arrangements are fresh and watered. My mother is past the stage that she participates in many of the activities, but when my sister and I are there and an activity is scheduled, we encourage her to participate.
I really appreciate the fact that the late stage memory care unit is in the same building, but separated by doors, so we can expect a smooth transition when the time comes for mother to be moved.
I hope this helps somewhat.
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Sad but our facility once had activities because I have witnessed them. Currently there is no director and I don't think one will be hired. It appears they assigned a former CNA to the position of activity something.....and he has little if any knowledge of the needs of seniors. This is evidienced by the fact that I have seen no physical activities; I have only seen News of the Day (30 min) and/or Bingo. Neither of these addresses the needs of those with cognitive or memory conditions. Please step in as often as you can since your mom is still high functioning because unless and until they get up to speed with an activity deoartment, she will grow bored and apethetic and end up like so many other residents slumpped over in a chair or worse a wheel chair or alone in their rooms or floating around in some corridor
Make a brief list first and foremost of what your mothers interests were at the time she entered the facility and provide her with the means to pursue those same interests with safety being paramount
The new direction of facilities is the person centered approach but I am afraid that I will be dead before we see such an approach common place.
I have hired caregivers to serve as companions for my mom as well when I have had to work (periodic part time employment).
I take my mom out every day and she socializes with the world/sees (vision) things that she would not be able to see from a facilitiy (trains, cars, parks, children), with me. Hi have kept her at her level of functioning that she was at when she entered her facility.
I think many of us are misled to believe there will be an abundance of activities or activity choices which is not necessarily the case. Some facilities do have great programs; others do not.
It is my guess that a nursing home probably provides the lesser of activities when compared to assisted living arrangments.
Residents with memory conditions/limitations do well with toddler toys as many like to keep their hands busy (folding bright colored washcloths). Art and music therapy are wonderful for them. Music should be geared to the targeted population for example my mother loves Dean Martin. Research pertaining to music therapy has been done with positive results. Residents provided with music and/or instruments will begin moving their bodies, singing along or tapping their hands or feet. Since the level of impairment differs from person to person the activities need to address each residents needs. Patriotic music is appropriate and sing along music is great! Gardening, flowers, strolls in the park/outdoor patios/waterfalls all things visual. If conditions allow ROM activities for the upper and lower extremities should be implement
I have approximate 500 picture postcards. Mom loves to look at them but gets bored but then becomes entertained by just picking them up and setting them down.
Toddler books with simple words; although my mother cannot read a sentance she can pick out a word here and there and says it out loud.
The internet is full of ideas as well. People with Alzheimer's, from my experience, love (or not) seeing their reflection in the mirror. I am not sure they know it is their very own reflection or not but ...
I am with my mom every day and the more she does the more I provide. Think of all the stimulation we provide for toddlers and young children and you have your answer.
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Thank you, geewhiz. Since I posted my question I found out that Mom's facility is going to revamp the activity program, so I will wait and see.
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This is an interesting dilemma and an aspect of facilities that other posters should consider when evaluating long term care facilities. The challenge you face is the added confusion dementia residents face with each change of venue. Not a good idea! And, there may not be a wide variety of options in your particular area. BUT choosing a facility doesn't mean yo are 'married to it'. Are there other options? Can you meet with the director to discuss your disappointment in this area of your Mom's care?

You haven't given much info in your profile but are you available to offer an activity for a group of residents? Perhaps this would get them started. Do they have an activities director? Does he/she need ideas? (You can get quite a few from here.) Do they need more help? (local groups can help out -- schools groups, scouting groups, senior clubs, church groups, etc.) I didn't like the morning activities at my Mom's place, so I always visited in the morning. I wheeled her out of the activity room and we did our own. TV is NOT an activity. It may work in a pinch but it's like putting kids in front of a 'TV Babysitter'.
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