Brain Health Week #5: Purposeful Programming and Memory Care

We will finish up Brain Health Awareness month with Purposeful Programming and how it relates to Alzheimer’s disease.

Purposeful, meaningful programming at JEA is made up of scheduled and nonscheduled programs that support the whole person. Programming is everything a resident engages in from the moment he or she wakes up in the morning until the time they fall asleep for the night. Most people think of programming in dementia care as the planned arts and crafts classes, special holiday events, exercise classes, music, and entertainment. These all require everyone to be in a group doing the same thing at the same time. While these activities are included in our programming, they are only part of the programming offered in our communities. Programming in dementia care also includes personal care, interactions and conversations with others, independent activities, engagement in lifetime experiences, and even quiet times.

A good program will provide purposeful, success-oriented, and meaningful interactions through physical, cognitive, social, spiritual, and creative programs throughout the day, allowing a resident to flourish focusing on their strengths and move up Maslow’s hierarchy.

One nonscheduled activity at JEA is life experiences. These experiences provide residents with meaningful engagement that draws on long-term memories and meets basic needs of self-esteem, love, and belonging on Maslow’s hierarchy. Your loved one would benefit from any number of these.

Examples of life experience activities at JEA:

  • Getting ready for meals. Let your loved one help as much as possible. Setting the table, putting out napkins, wiping the tables and chairs, adding/removing centerpieces, filling beverages.
  • Cleaning up after meals. Sweeping, washing tables and chairs, clearing the table, washing dishes
  • Watering, weeding, washing benches and tables, raking, filling feeders, picking flowers/vegetables, sweeping, gardening.
  • Dusting
  • Assisting with laundry, carrying baskets, folding linens, and towels, putting clothes in the washer or dryer
  • Helping with activities, handing out materials, gathering up materials, washing the tables, cleaning the supplies used, personal assistant to PGD leading an activity such as exercise, art program, reading, music
  • Playing the piano
  • Feeding the house animals
  • Helping at snack time
  • Folding newsletters
  • Collecting trash
  • Decorating for an event
  • Host or hostess for meals and events

This is a vital part of the program. It provides residents with a sense of belonging, the feeling of being loved, and a purpose, all key elements of Maslow’s.

Wanting to “help” is a part of their long-term memories. The next time a loved one asks, “Can I help you with that?” or “What can I do?” give them a task and the tools to complete it. Whether they complete the task is not important it is the process of doing the task that offers the best rewards.

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