This is one of the most important of all activities. Through reminiscence, you and your relative can better appreciate the person’s life. For the resident, reminiscence can validate his or her life and the uniqueness of that life. Here are some ways to help the resident to reminisce:
- Create a Memory Album — a collection of photos highlighting special life events. Be sure to include the story of each photo, so that our volunteers and staff can use the album to reinforce identity and memories in between your visits.
- Put together a collection of favourite small objects into a Life Kit. Include things like favourite ornaments, pictures of family, a favourite scent, a fondly remembered piece of jewelry and so on.
- Read books, newspapers or magazines together. If you cant carry on the conversations you used to, just hearing your voice will be a comfort for your relative.
- Use our TimeSlips binder select a picture and make up your own story!
- Borrow our Montessori-based Activity folders to assist with maintenance of language and other functional skills.
- Do some volunteer work together. Feed the cat, fold some laundry, help weed in the garden or sweep the walkway, provide visitation together to other residents a great way to help your relative make other social connections at the Lodge. For residents who liked to feel needed, these activities help to provide a sense of meaning and purpose.
We have encouraged you to be creative in the activities that you and the resident participate in. However, for some residents with memory changes, a definite routine works best, and variation in that routine may be upsetting. If you find the resident becomes distressed by new activities, or even by leaving the unit, you may have to restrict your activities. Discuss your concerns with staff. They will be able to assist you in developing a specific plan of activities for your relative/friend.
Where to Visit
Visiting in the resident’s room can provide you with some needed privacy, but don’t feel you need to stay here.
- Join in a unit activity program
- Sit in the lounge or solarium
- Go outside to one of the gardens or gazebo or walk the interior hallways if the weather isn’t great
- Send an email, surf the web or try a computer game an the computer in the alcove off the main lounge
- Play shuffleboard, cards or a board game in the Activity room
- If the resident does not become anxious outside of the unit go home, to a restaurant, a movie, the Mall or to a tourist attraction
An important component of every visit is the communication that occurs between you and the resident. Therefore, you must try to minimize any problems caused by hearing, vision, physical disabilities and memory changes.
- Learn all you can about the specific communication problems that your family member has, along with action you can take to reduce the effect of the problem. For example, should you sit on a certain side of the person to accommodate a hearing loss?
- Create a comfortable environment physically and emotionally for both of you.
- Place yourself at eye level with the resident.
- Use your normal conversational voice when speaking.
- If you or the resident need a hearing aid, glasses or communication board, make sure they are in place and working before you start.
- If the resident doesn’t understand what you are saying, try using different words, or shorter sentences.
- Be patient your relative may need time to take in, understand and come up with an answer.
- If your family member has trouble expressing him or herself, avoid asking information-seeking questions. Instead of questions, use statements, such as “You look nice today” or “That is a pretty sweater”. Make a reasoned guess and ask for verification with a nod of the head if the resident has lost the words.
If your family member has experienced memory challenges:
- Use a calm, reassuring voice.
- Use short, simple sentences. Be clear.
- Break down instructions into steps. Give instructions one step at a time.
- Provide visual cues through gesture or pictures
- Don’t offer too many choices
- Watch for signs of anxiety in nonverbal cues
- Sing songs or use adapted programs, such as TimeSlips, art designs or Montessori-based activities
- As language deteriorates, place less emphasis on conversation and more on how much the resident appears to achieve contentment and pleasure from your presence.
Don’t visit for lengthy periods of time. We tend to think of communication as talking. But remember, nonverbal communication is equally, if not more important. Try a hug! Just being together may be enough.