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I am a caregiver in a nursing home and I am looking for new activities/outings/fundraisers/events other than our "normal" things we are getting bored of. We do bingo, go to the casino, crafts, bus rides, coffee groups, eat out at local restaurants... I would love to have some new ideas to use in our facility! We are very interested in getting the community involved, especially the kids in school, boy/girl scouts, other seniors in town, etc. Please let me know what fun things you do at your care home!

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Some more thoughts that may or may not be appropriate for your particular group(dementia or disabilities that make participation questionable)....

Wii - has a lot of games/sports/quiz shows
Computers - have virtual reality type items (casino games)
or just games in general... crossword, scrabble, sudoku, chess, hangman, tic-tac-toe....... and more difficult Mensa type games/quizzes

X-box, gameboy, .. most gaming systems have something that can appeal to different talents and tastes...

Put on your own talent show....have members sing, dance, play an instrument, tell a story or joke.....

Have someone teach residents how to make small terrariums or how to 'make' bonsai plants...little meditation 'gardens' - or such

Making 'white elephant gifts'. to exchange at Christmas (that don't have to be that useless... you can make some amazing things out of duct tape, like eyeglass cases)

Have a writing contest of a personal nature (biographical) - best story submitted to local paper. Do around New Year's for Auld Lang Syne

Scrapbook the people and events at the facility - once a year..... each resident could contribute a page - either of their own making or with help from family/friends/staff.

Fashion show -from family of residents or the residents.... be outlandish for fun....
Grandkids could wear their sports outfits - football players to ballerinas..... might be fun to have a different fashion show around Halloween.......
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Reply to Nanagin
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zoo, aquarium, museum, odd museums, tour of a police or fire station. Botanical gardens, local train station or museum. star gazing.
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Reply to MAYDAY
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maybe a simple version of Play That Tune.. or Name That tune.. Gosh I don't remember
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NeedHelpWithMom Oct 6, 2019
Name That Tune. It was with Kathie Lee Gifford.
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I do have to go into ALs, RCFEs, and NHs frequently with my job; each place has unique ideas for their residents.
One place has something like a shadow box outside each patient's room that tells a story for them.... personal items (war medals, trophies, etc), photos, other items that show 'who' they are. Some are put together by the resident, others by family members. Some of these are so nicely done!! I am sure they could be altered from time to time just to 'freshen'

One of the NHs I like a lot -has small bulletin boards in each room - that do get some redesigning. But I noticed that they list 'my favorite things' for each resident. One list stated that the resident liked being read to (Cowboy stories) and enjoyed certain music (John Phillip Souza marches) and so the list went. I am sure these lists could be used to plan activities. If enough people wanted to do table games - try it for a Saturday game marathon....

My best friend is in independent living - and they had a virtual escape room set up for an indoor activity - and she said it was a lot of fun. If that is too technical, maybe a treasure hunt - w/ fairly simple clues.

We have a local Dinner Train that does a 'Clue' whodunnit every weekend. This is fun to do occasionally but you need a team to put together a good act.

I realize for dementia these suggestions would be impossible. But I think having youth groups coming in -is very uplifting. I have seen how they bring smiles to folks faces. When my son was in Boy Scouts - they always went to a couple of facilities for the elderly and caroled. A lot of other agencies, churches, etc.... do this.

What about a rhythm band? doesn't take too much talent to play a tambourine or triangle, among other items.

Our local community college has a Life Long Learning program that seniors attend. One could implement this in their own facility. Have patients (or their family members) get up and talk to the others on something specific: Pearl Harbor Day(I have been totally enthralled by at least 2 survivors - different times - telling me their story); the end of segregation, riding the rails, back when trains were an important mode of transportation... or some such.

International day? We have this at work... people get to dress to their ethnic style and bring a favorite dish.... this could be adjusted to playing music of their ethnic group or other forms of representing their heritage....

If you have an animal rescue in your county, ours does 'talks' that can be scheduled (mostly at schools I believe) - they do bring a few exotic critters - in cages, and talk about where they were found, how they are being rehabilitated, etc.... but most are feral so there is no petting.

Around here, we have a lot of therapy dogs. I see residents respond to them sometimes when they don't respond to much else.

When my grandkids were a little younger, we would make hats every January, along with a few other things - to wear for a 'Mardi Gras' party. Believe me - there is quite a variety of hats out there that can be made fairly simply from newspapers, construction paper, paper plates, etc...

When I was in high school - our church had some week long campouts during the summer. Every evening, we would present several awards; there was an award for someone who did a really good deed, there was a thank you award, but my favorite was the 'mung up' award presented to someone who had really done something goofy, ridiculous, but definitely accidentally.... we would get such a laugh out of this. We also had ridiculous songs we would sing for different occasions.... like. 'Announcements, announcements..... Ah NOW OUNCE MENTS!!'
to bring out whoever had to deliver instructions for the day or an activity...
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- Puzzles
- Ebooks
- Music
- Card games
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Reply to Llamalover47
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This response comes from Australia. The aged care facility where my mother is currently resident holds an open day towards the end of each year. Throughout the year the residents utilise their unique talents to create goods to sell at the open day. Plants are always very popular as are knitted, crocheted and sewn goods. They even do a collection of unwanted goods from among the residents to sell in what we, here in Australia, call White Elephant stalls. Those who live in the retirement village adjacent to the facility also participate, especially providing goodies from their kitchens. These activities provide an ongoing interest, something positive to look forward to, and to fill in the residents' spare time. A small committee from among the residents usually organises the day - imagine any retired service personnel or managerial people dotting all the i's and crossing the t's - and the facility retains NONE of the proceeds. Either the residents keep the profits from their own contribution or the proceeds from the event are donated to a local charity. This event is not unique to my mother's residence, it happens at many facilities across the country. My mother is in the memory care section now, dementia ravages her life. How she would have enjoyed taking part in this activity had she entered the facility a few years earlier.
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Reply to Shezza1
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My ex is in a AL facility in Washington. It is hard sometimes to find activities for men. They have Tailgate parties when the Seahawks are in town The AL is on the Spokane side of the mountains. They even have 1 beer for everyone. I understand they tried it for the Mariners, but it didn't go over as well.

One lady who has dementia and always thinks the parties are at her house is encouraged to help out. They will say, This tea is for Margaret, would you take it to her. So, she takes it over, thanks her for coming, and chats a minute like a good hostess. One time she told my daughter she wished those people would go home because the party should be over. My daughter just commended her for having such a wonderful event. Mentioned that it was so successful that no one wanted to leave yet.

They have a McDonalds coffee clatch every morning for the guys. They did ask the guys if the gals could come and they said "sure". They have organized walks for those who are able.

They have a bus and take day trips to scenic spots near by. One time my daughter came by because her dad was supposed to go, he backed out, so she got on the bus and went and left him there at the AL. That was when he was fussing about having to go to AL and making it hard for her.
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Reply to MaryKathleen
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When my mother was in assisted living she loved music and going outdoors. One really special event was that they took the minibus to a local park and had lunch. It was just sandwiches and juice on a picnic table but to her it reminded her of earlier days of family picnics and so she really enjoyed that. I would look into the hobbies that the residents had when they were younger and try to come up with similar crafts.
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Reply to SandyRenner
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What wonderful ideas from everyone! Thank you. I made a list of those that would be useful for my mother who is 90 and blind. I wonder if anyone could add other activities suitable for the blind to enjoy. We have books on tape but we're always looking for other activities. Thank you again.
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MAYDAY Oct 5, 2019
Play ball. Gt a dime sdtore vinyl ball, perhaps put a question with it, and hand it to a resident. Just the feeling of being a part of a game, and touching a plastic ball and handing it over, or having them throw it towards your voice, if they can is fun. I had a plastic ball at mom's place, and it was only 6 residents, but I invited everyone, including care takers to come over and we would toss the ball, play music and had fun exercising. Mom got frustrated once, she ha ALZ, and she just threw it at me.. She was done for the day, so I stopped tossing the ball to her. My wonderful friend, who I just adored was in a wheel chair, and really didn't have movement to catch or throw a ball, but she always wanted to be a part and hold it and pass it back to me in the motion of passing it... I miss them...
This facility would have a performer every year, Karaoke and they bring the mic around for people to sing if they wanted to participate. My daughter has a good voice, so she came over and sang to the residents, Open mic day :)
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I have seen a whole group of seniors on a carousel. The smiles were everywhere. They all got on at the same time and everyone waved to them. It was wonderful.
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Reply to noreenn
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Back in February, someone asked a similar question - I did not compare those responses to the current ones, but you could check here also:

https://www.agingcare.com/discussions/can-we-start-a-list-of-activities-that-nursing-home-residents-actually-enjoy-and-are-able-to-take-pa-446672.htm?orderby=oldest
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Reply to disgustedtoo
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Call local dance studios or music centers. My daughters dance studio was ages 2yrs-15yrs old and the seniors loved seeing them sing and dance. Especially the younger group. People taking music lessons can perform with guitar or piano/key board.
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Reply to vaccagirl
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It would be great if the residents could be outside more and out in the community. Is there a park nearby? If you have transportation and a scout troop available maybe a group could go to a zoo, a circus or a county fair.
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Reply to Bigsister7
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There are a lot of possibilities; and it is good that you are reaching out to find them.

Here are some books that should be helpful:
James R. Dowling, "Keeping Busy: A Handbook of Activities for Persons with Dementia" (The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1995)
Diana Moran and Muir Gray, "Sod Sitting, Get Moving: Getting Active in Your 60s, 70s and Beyond" (Green Tree/Bloomsbury, 2017)--not about dementia, but easy exercises to do that work well with people in chronic conditions
Karrie Marshall, "A Creative Toolkit for Communication in Dementia Care" (Jessica Kingsley, 2017); and by the same author and publisher, "Puppetry in Dementia Care: Connecting through Creativity and Joy" --very good for those who are not communicating and might be bed-ridden

All of these books should be helpful to anyone with difficulties in communication, but they are not aimed especially at care homes.

I hope this is helpful.
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Reply to BritishCarer
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See if you can locate any local artists to come play once a week. When my Mom was in the geriatric/psych ward before assisted living, she loved that day of the week when they would come and play music/sing. Also, perhaps having children come and read to the residents would be a great idea.
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Reply to Litlebit67
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One suggestion is to check with various junior hi and high schools in the area and see if they would be willing to have students come and put on skits from drama classes, acrobats with gymnasts, singing choirs. Younger generations need to mingle as well with the elderly.
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Reply to commutergirl
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Puzzles, book clubs, and even check out any local threatre groups close by. Talk to the schools about any programs that the younger kids are putting together. Usually they can come perform for the residents and make them cards. See is the High Schools require to the Seniors to have certain amount of community service hours to graduate. If so, offer an Adopt a Grandparent program. Also talk to local Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts troops.
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finger nail painting, once a week at no charge. Work on a puzzle as teams and compete to see who can finish puzzle first. I cut out pictures of foods, clothes, accessories, kids riding bikes, camping, pics. of animals, etc. and then would sit with my husband who had Alz. and have him look for items in the pics. Ask him questions about what do you think these children are doing etc. He loved those times. Brought out his year book and family pics and we would look and them. He would share things with me as we looked at them.
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Reply to NancyH2877970
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First of all, I would like to say that I love your positive spirit. My caregiver days are over. Mom is at my brother’s home now after being in my house for nearly 15 years.

When my mom was younger (she’s almost 94) she was very active. She sewed beautifully, knitted, crochet, embroidery, wonderful cook, volunteered at our school and church, etc.

What about a ‘story hour’? Read interesting articles or short stories to them. Have them record stories for their families. Make a journal with them.

What about a knit/crochet group? Lap quilting? Very easy crafts like painting small boxes or small trays to place their rosary or other jewelry in. I live in a largely Catholic community and a rosary is special.

Making flower pens are relatively easy. Silk flowers, floral tape, and pens can be purchased from the dollar store. That’s all you need. Bouquets can be put in small flower pot, jar, empty veggie can. Empty veggie cans that are painted are pretty. Peel off labels and paint. Small mason jars work too.

Take photos and let them make a photo collage to place in common areas or smaller display for their rooms. Decorating photo frames? Invite family or friends to join in for additional photos.

Music is therapeutic but also fun, brings back memories. Print out lyrics (large print) and play songs for a sing a long.

Card games?

Those able to exercise may like something physical like dancing to music from their era. My grandpa loved to waltz. My mom did the jitterbug! Hahaha. Some could handle a waltz. Chair exercises.

The closest my mom got to a NH was when she was admitted to a NH for skilled nursing rehab. They had a few activities there. I thought the gardening activities were especially nice because it is rewarding to see things grow. They got out of their rooms, enjoyed being outside for awhile.

The seniors that I observed participating seemed to enjoy it, even those in wheelchairs were participating because the flowers and veggies were raised to a height where no one had to bend over.

My mom was a fabulous cook and enjoyed being in the kitchen or cooked simple things for herself until she couldn’t do it anymore. Are there simple recipes that could be prepared such as appetizers or easy no bake sweets, they could even make a fancy punch to be enjoyed by all?

Some people have a sweet tooth and I remember a sweet old lady that used to ask me to purchase candy for her when I visited mom at rehab. She didn’t have any money for the vending machine. I checked if she had dietary restrictions and she didn’t so I bought candy for her. She enjoyed it so much. I started buying the individual ice cream cups for them. Those without dietary restrictions enjoyed them. Why not do an ice cream sundae bar? Or decorate sugar cookies?

One of the sweetest things I saw was on CBS Sunday morning news show where a nurse brought her young daughter to work with her on occasion. She looked to be about 12 or so. She went around speaking to all the residents and asked if they had a wish to put in her ‘wish’ notebook. She was surprised by the answers she received. It was not answers like ‘a million dollars’ or stuff like that. It was stuff like, cookies, Vienna sausage, candy, someone to play cards with. Well she plays cards with them. She raised money and delivered their goodies to them. The residents loved this kid! So did I. She was adorable.

Unfortunately, most of mom’s time was spent in the OT and PT so she missed several of the activities that were scheduled during that time.

There were activities scheduled at times that she could have made it but she always refused no matter how often she was encouraged. She wouldn’t even do lunch at our local senior community center. She became a homebody that didn’t socialize much. I felt socialization was important but she quickly shot down any suggestions.

I don’t know how much I helped but I wish you luck. Others will have ideas.

I am aware that everyone can’t do these.
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Reply to NeedHelpWithMom
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Have a fashion show, voting for best..funniest...most interesting...most expensive...
most colorful...with prizes! Maybe first have a "HAT" show, with same focus + prizes.
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Reply to Compassionate5
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Scrap booking? Yeah. Lots of gooey glue.
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Sadgirl59 Oct 1, 2019
They have glue stick. Works great.
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Ask the local high school band directors if they would plan a series of concerts. Maybe old time sing along songs? Maybe Christmas program? Etc,

it would be great of the kids to get out and perform...and the seniors would like it too...
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Judysai422 Oct 1, 2019
My daughter's dance and singing teacher would have the group perform for seniors. It was great for both the girls and the seniors.
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My mother doesn't get involved in her Sr Center beyond BINGO, but I have been there and I have noticed there are ALWAYS quilts set up, puzzles set up (ENORMOUS ONES, BTW, which, when finished are framed and signed.)

Local authors--or even a book review, many srs no longer have the time span to read a whole book. Movie days, complete with popcorn (from experience, get the hull-less 'fake' popcorn!) and soda and show old movies.

They also do a LOT of care packages for the local boys and girls clubs, and for foreign aid. These do not need to cost much. I know my mother sends all her ggkids a $5 bill for their b-days, which is kind, but they don't know who she IS, and that $5 to a 16 yo kid--makes no dent in their lives. I suggested mother hold off the on the $5 and we'd do something @ Christmas. With her money and support from some local merchants, we were able to put together 50 filled Christmas stockings and the $5 bills were in each one. She was far more joyful with that than 'gifting' my extremely spoiled and wealthy grandkids.

IMHO, giving srs a sense of 'giving and doing' instead of simply trying to just constantly finding more ways to 'play'---they need to feel useful and needed.
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