Never Give Up…EVERYONE Can Find Something They Enjoy

Hello everyone,

How often do we see a group of residents participating in a recreational activity, but notice that at least a few of them are left out? Sitting in the corner looking on? Often, these more “challenging” residents are the people who most need to be active and engaged in activity so they avoid feelings of frustration, agitation and boredom.  

To help with this, here are some activity ideas that your nurses, nursing assistants and recreation staff can use to get residents with cognitive decline in on the fun: 

Flyswatter volleyball: Give residents plastic flyswatters have them hit a balloon back and forth to each other 

Dance, dance, dance! Turn off those televisions and turn on some music and dance. Have staff members take turns playing music from their iPods through a speaker. Fast or slow, old or new, music has the power to move everyone. 

Horseshoes: Now that Spring is (sort of) here, horseshoe games are everywhere. Look for the foam kind and play inside or outside on a patio. Residents can play while standing or sitting. 

Foam swim noodles: Get a bunch of these (you can find them at places like Five Below or WalMart and pools stores), cut them in half, and have residents hold one at each end and bend. The closer together their hands are, the harder it is to bend. These make for great resistance exercises! Leave them out in common areas for a safe, easy way to start spontaneous exercise. 

Movement scarves: These can be found on enasco.com, or you can make your own with a lightweight material. Toss these colorful scarves in the air and have residents try to catch them. These scarves can be better than throwing a ball back and forth, since people with slower reflexes and limited hand flexibility can catch them more easily.

One final note–never give up! Never stop asking a resident to participate. You never know…maybe on the 50th try, they’ll say “yes!” Here’s a great example…at Future Care Sandtown in Baltimore, one of the residents is blind. Staff said he usually stayed in his room all day and listened to the television. With a little extra coaxing from the staff, he came out of his room and they played music for him and he danced! Now he does it all the time. Great job, Sandtown!! Keep up the good work.

 

Have a great week!

Promoting Positive Interactions

Hello Everyone,

In addition to the information we provided about inappropriate sexual behavior in last week’s tidbit, Dr. Elizabeth Galik, one of the investigators on our study, has written an article on this topic for Bottom Line Health. You can read it online here:

https://bottomlineinc.com/health/memory/dementia-and-inappropriate-sexual-behavior

This week, we’d like to discuss how to approach a resident with challenging behaviors in a way that can result in more positive interactions between the caregiver and resident. For example, if a resident scratches, swears or tries to hit a nursing assistant while she is helping the resident with morning care, how does that experience affect her? How will she approach her next encounter with the resident later in the day?

First, we as caregivers should be mindful that people with the dementia are exhibiting these challenging behaviors because of their disease. By not taking their angry words or actions towards us personally, we can objectively think about effective ways to react to their behavior that can result in increased expressions of wellbeing by the resident. Here are some ideas to help:

  • Before approaching a resident that you know can be challenging based on past experiences, take a deep breath and acknowledge your feelings. Are you angry? Anxious? Frustrated? If you enter the resident’s room while projecting these feelings, the resident will often pick up on them and respond accordingly. Try to “reset” yourself before you approach the resident and start with a clean emotional slate.
  • Put aside your expectations of what the resident will do. These expectations can turn into self-fulfilling prophecies.
  • Take a moment to put yourself in the shoes of the resident. Are they scared? Frustrated? Sad? In pain? If they aren’t able to articulate their feelings verbally, they will do this through their behavior. Try to figure out what they may be trying to communicate.
  • Remember the TMT-TMT rule: Too Much Talk and Too Much Touch by the caregiver can sometimes over-stimulate and agitate a resident. In these cases, a simple gesture and silent cuing may suffice. Also be aware of your body language. Standing over a resident can result in a “fight or flight” response. How would you feel if someone stood over you and tried to shove a toothbrush in your mouth?
  • Now, smile and take a few minutes to sit eye-to-eye with the resident (not standing over him), and talk about something you know the person enjoys….sports, upcoming holidays, weather, pets, etc. Starting with some brief moments of calm can have a positive impact on the rest of your visit and help establish trust.

You may have heard something similar to this before—while you cannot control the behavior of a person, you CAN control your response to it. Keep this in mind this week and see if this changes the way you interact with some of your residents.

Have a great week!