Norman Rockwell Day
We had our Norman Rockwell Day last Thursday. I checked out three books (big!) from the library and gleaned some information from them about Norman Rockwell’s life and about the illustrations that are on the items I got from you. Then I set the books out on the table for the residents to look at and find their favorite pictures.
The circumstances that day were almost perfect because there was another volunteer there. She helped me with the residents when I tried out the Gossips card game. Residents weren’t all ready at the same time for the activity, and that was a plus because a small group was definitely easier.
• We dealt out three cards to each resident and they took turns holding up a card and asking “Do you have this one?” If the card wasn’t already in someone’s group, we all called out “Back to the drawing board!”, a variation on “Go fish!” and they would pick a new card from the pile.
It took some time for the residents to “get it”, but working with just a few we didn’t have the frustration virus that can infect a group when something doesn’t get off the ground right away.
I’m sure you know what I mean….someone says “I don’t like this!” or “I don’t know what I’m supposed to do!” and if it’s a big group that sentiment can spread.
We had quite a lot of fun with the game, and for my first time through it was very helpful to have another person to help.
Puzzles for dementia
• The puzzles were great. I was so surprised at who did well and who was stumped. One man who is very high functioning was flummoxed by the puzzle. He kept trying to make it stand up. He also wanted to force the pieces.
This was a 6 piece puzzle, and luckily “Little Spooners” because I had the “What’s Mi sing” cards right there and could pull out one that had a picture of what his puzzle should look like. That made a big difference to him. I expected that he would have just breezed through it, but I think the fact that the pieces are wood and he was a woodworker in his younger days made him think it was a building project.
Some of the lower functioning residents actually did quite well with the 12 piece puzzles if they were given “sideways encouragement”….that’s what I think of us careful encouragement without direct scrutiny. Sometimes the residents freeze up and give up if they are being watched too closely. Have you ever noticed that?
Memory Cards for dementia
• The “What’s Mi sing” cards are fabulous! There were five residents working on them and trading them back and forth. The beauty is that they could get one figured out, trade for a new set, eventually get a set back that they had already solved and it was new to them!
This is the blessing of short term memory loss! They enjoyed the cards over and over, not remembering that they had just figured them out a few minutes earlier! I wish I had a camera on them for that activity because there was so much laughter and happy “I GOT it!” calls going on.
• Yesterday there were two bored residents at the activity table and I pulled out the Gossips cards. We played a variation of the game, and as they matched the cards they wanted to identify which people they thought they would like if they knew them. That was fun.
One woman was disturbed by the last couple in the picture, and said “Oh I don’t like this one, they’re fighting!” This is someone who rarely talks, and her comment was revealing. I think anytime they can express themselves it’s a healthy thing.
I must say that the quality of the products is top notch. The products you have really promote interaction between the residents, especially since I have three puzzles and two different card games.
Several of the residents asked “Where did you get these?” and I enjoyed telling them about this very nice woman who made these because her Mom was in a retirement home and needed some new games. That’s condensing the story, of course, but they liked it. By the way, I came up with the idea of calling Village Ridge a “retirement home” instead of an assisted living facility. The residents like that notion and it’s not too far off the mark. It seems to make them happier.
Two family members of a resident came in while we were working the “What’s Mi sing” game and they were great at supporting the residents, cheering when they got their cards figured out. Actually, some other residents were working on the puzzles at the same time and it was fun to have encouragement come from someone other than me.
Great Tips from Susan R, caregiver & volunteer – IA
PS: Susan wrote this 2009.