Activites...Just keeping them busy or creating meaning?

Most people in this industry of caring for the elderly will agree that having a full activity program is important.  But most put  their effort  into a calendar and filling it up to look good and to keep people busy.   It is far harder to garner a program to the individuals.  It requires knowing the residents well and including their interests, values and passion in the planning.   This is what we do at Lakeside Gardens because we consider an activity program the means to achieving the goal of upholding the individual's sense of self using meaningful activities.  

I will give you a few examples of what I mean.  In December, our calendar was full of a flurry of activities centered around Christmas.  We went to many concerts and made sure we included a piano jazz concert for Mr. Norman since we know that this type of music is his very favorite.  We let him know we were thinking of him while planning this event and that bolstered his self esteem because he was important enough for us to consider this.  Then upon our return from a successful concert that everyone really enjoyed, we let everyone know they could thank Norman because we scheduled them all to go because of his interest.  Then the residents took the moment to praise and thank Norman for his excellent taste in music.  He glowed.  Now that was meaningful to him in more than one way.  And it gave him esteem and respect showing him as important and respected.

Another example is what we just did this week.  After the business of the holidays and after taking down all the lovely decorations, everyone commented on how blah everything felt and looked.  It was decided that we needed a party to prepare for and enjoy.  But what do you celebrate in January after New Years Eve?  Well, we decided we would celebrate France.  Why you ask?  I know it seems random, but we have two people who have France as their heritage and it would give us an opportunity to learn more about their home country and culture.  And it would give us an excuse to decorate the dining room as a french cafe!   We had a wonderful time talking about French culture and foods.  And we enjoyed many authentic french foods like quiche, croissants, cream puffs, madeleines and more.  Then we shared a picture of the French chateau our resident Nicky was raised in.  Amazing!  She enjoyed the spotlight and affirmation.  She talked about going to the eiffel tower in Paris numerous times and talking about how french food is the best.  (" Of course!")  It was esteem building for her and much fun for everyone else.  We also heard from Gladys that she used to arrange tours of Europe for people and Paris was one of the destinations she would coordinate and lead.  Again, esteem building.  We affirmed and admired her organizational abilities.  

Not everything is the residents favorite activity, but the process of participating with the rest of the residents and being thanked for participating is also esteem building.  We tell them that it just wouldn't be the same if they weren't there.  And it's genuinely true!  

Creating meaningful activities is what we do at Lakeside.  And we invite family and friends to join in with us.  Next month is all about the valentine's day tea.  Look for your invitations.  The residents are making those and helping me to decide the menu.  Oh what fun!