Dementia Activities, Planning and Execution

Vanessa Emm, the Operations Trustee of the National Association of Activity Professionals, and Scott Silknitter, founder of R.O.S. Therapy Systems, share dementia activities and planning for your loved one.Dementia Activities, Planning and Execution

Learn more about how to execute these plans when caring for someone with dementia.

Dementia Activities, Planning and Execution

This is the last article in our series which has taken you through the high points of activities and engagement to assist you in providing person centered care for your loved one.

We have been through three of the Four Pillars of Activities and now head into the fourth and final Pillar of Activities: Dementia Activities, Planning and Execution.

Here is what we have learned from the pillars of activities thus far:

  1. Remember, we are not talking about bingo.
  2. An activity, be it leisure or daily living, can be anything.
  3. You must know your loved ones likes, preferences and abilities.
  4. You must know how to best communicate with them.
  5. You must know their daily routine.

Now, you can plan an activity for them. Because it is the final building block to successful engagement, you may see immediate and wonderful success – a smile, a laugh, a sense of accomplishment and self-worth.

You may also experience some hiccups along the way which is why you must remain flexible. No one was born a caregiver. This is a learned occupation. Yes, it is an occupation whether you are paid for it or not. You have one of the most important jobs in the world, taking care of someone that you care about.

One of the things we often stress in our training classes is to treat others as you would have them treat you because someday it very well could be you that needs help from a caregiver. Our experience has taught us that the best way to achieve success in an activity is to develop lesson plans for each activity you plan to execute. Lesson plans provide all the information a caregiver needs to provide person specific programming and are very straightforward.

Items included in a lesson plan are:

Date: Document the date that the activity occurred.

Program Name: Activity name or preferred activity name.

Objective of Activity: What do you want to accomplish? Have fun? Get Dressed? List every objective.

Materials: Suggested materials to use with the program. You want to make sure everything is available and prepared prior to beginning your activity.

Prerequisite Skills: Physical/mental skills and abilities your loved one should possess to successfully engage in the activity.

Activity Outline: Step by step instructions to complete the program. No step is too small. No instruction is too simple. Make sure everything is listed so any caregiver can work with your loved one on this activity.

Evaluation: A thorough evaluation is the most important part of the lesson plan. Record any verbal cues, assistance, or modifications you offered or made. It is very important to pass on this information so everyone who presents the activity in the future will do it the same way. You want others to be able to recreate a positive experience as easily as possible.

Activities are a process of trial and error to find the right fit for your loved one based on their remaining abilities during the progression of their dementia. As you probably know, you often do not know what kind of day it is going to be until it has started. During aging and disease progression, your loved ones needs, preferences and interests may evolve and change daily or even hourly. Having a variety of activity lesson plans to accommodate your loved one’s needs will assist you through this process.

Caregiving is a challenge. There are steps to take which can help improve your quality of life as a caregiver and the quality of life of your loved one. The Four Pillars of Activities and Engagement are some of those steps.

If you need more assistance or activity lesson plans, please or see some of the more than 1000 Activity Lesson Plans at the link below:

Please do not give up and know that you are not alone.

About the Authors

Vanessa Emm BA, ACC/EDU, AC-BC, CDP, is the Operations Trustee of the National Association of Activity Professionals which has been the training and education authority for quality of life and leisure engagement in senior care since 1982. Scott Silknitter, inventor, author, and speaker is the founder of R.O.S. Therapy Systems which began as a 2010 project to help his mother and father in a 25-year battle with Parkinson’s disease and dementia.

What dementia activities have you planned and successfully executed with your loved one? Do you have any suggestions for us? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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