Connectivities was recently featured by Teepa Snow's Positive Approach to Care as an option for care partners to create opportunities for people living with dementia to maintain essential skills in language, fine and gross motor movement, problem-solving, and more.
By keeping a routine that includes purposeful and leisure activities, care partners can create opportunities for people living with dementia to maintain essential skills in language, fine and gross motor movement, problem solving, and more.
As Teepa tells us, there are four types of activities each of us participates in as we go about our lives. They are purposeful, leisure, self-care, and restorative/rest activities. For people living with dementia, it becomes more and more difficult to initiate and participate in many of the activities they once enjoyed. Leaving them and their care partners feeling a growing sense of loss and frustration. By shifting our focus on the types of activities people living with dementia continue to engage in, we can help both parties lead more fulfilling lives.
As care partners in both home and community settings, we tend to focus on self-care and restorative activities such as grooming and rest/sleep. With such an intense focus on these activities we often become frustrated with each other and lose the connection we once had and continue to crave. Consistently being met with frustration and resistance leads to a cycle of exhaustion that we often see with family care partners.
At Connectivities, we believe that if we continue to include activities for purpose and leisure in our daily routine, we can maintain stronger connections and better quality of life. As a person living with dementia progresses, we have to be open about the activities they might try. We often hear, My dad would never do that or My mom loved to sew but I can’t get her to do anything now.
Sometimes whether or not the person living with dementia will participate in an activity has more to do with the care partner’s attitude about it or approach than the person’s willingness or ability. In order to engage someone, we have to set them up for success. They may not have enjoyed making or building things, but they love to help! So, we set up an activity and then we ask for their help. At this point the participation is less about what the activity is, and more about the feeling of purpose or accomplishment that happens during the interaction.
For example, in our July Connectivities box, one of the activities was to put together a patriotic baton. It involved putting stoppers on a clear plastic tube and filling the tube with pony beads and patriotic confetti. During our trial of this activity some people were happy to follow the instructions and tickled with the end product. Our more reluctant participants responded well to being asked to help and then solving the problem of getting the pony beads into the tube. Being asked to solve a problem or help with something can be very compelling.
Leisure activities such as games or sensory based projects can calm and engage both the care partner and the person living with dementia. In our Connectivities vacations themed August box, participants make a version of an I Spy tube. Participants are delighted by the tiny vacation themed objects that go into the tube and then can spend their time looking for them among the rice filler and other objects. Finding the objects and talking about memories involving each one extends the activity even further.
Creating these opportunities for purpose and leisure can take some time and effort to plan and prepare, so it is understandable that a care partner in the cycle of exhaustion may find it difficult. There are multiple resources available for care partners or other family members to find and prepare for these types of activities. In fact, just looking on Pinterest will generate an endless number of ideas.
Connectivities is a brand-new resource that wholly addresses the need for both purposeful and leisure activities. Connectivities offers activities proven to engage people living with dementia. A monthly subscription is available as well as single boxes, mini boxes, and sensory kits. Each activity comes with the materials needed to complete the activity, detailed printed instructions, video instructional supports, and therapy goals.
By keeping a routine that includes purposeful and leisure activities both at home and in group care settings, care partners can reduce boredom as well as create opportunities for people living with dementia to maintain essential skills in language, fine and gross motor movement, problem solving, and more. Connectivities was designed to make this important work as easy as possible for people in any setting. As we consider what constitutes a life worth living for people living with dementia, we have to remain open-minded and flexible in order to foster opportunities for connection with purpose and leisure activities.
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