I work in a nursing home in the Activity Dept. and some of our most successful activities are stringing beads for necklaces or key chains ( they love working with beads!) Some of them loved working with watercolor paints. I had large pre-printed images and they loved coloring it with paint. We've made small papier mache bowls. We've done yarn weavings and sewed necklaces with yarn on plastic canvas pieces. They love it when musicians come play music for them. We have live music once a week. They love to sing. I also do hand massages with nice smelling lotion. The ladies (and a few men) love it. We do manicures once a week. And they'll all come out for root beer floats or ice cream socials. We've also done cheese and crackers with fruit and they like that alot. And church on Sundays is big. We have several local churches who rotate coming once a month to lead the church service for our residents and that's very important.
Hope this helps.
I used to take my Basset Hounds as Pet Therapy dogs to a State ran facility. I had my choice of Nursing Homes and I chose the State ran one because those seniors very, rarely had visitors. I got to know all the patients well but had to stop going because my one dog got really attached to Horace and when Horace passed away Daisy did not want to go anymore.
Besides Bingo and being sat in front of a TV, they had activities 3 times a week. They had bowling with plastic pins like little kids use, sometimes people would come and sing or play the piano for them. I wish I could remember all the things they did but all in all there was something to do for residents who wanted to participate.
How about a movie night and go to the Library and check out an older movie that they would remember from their younger days. Gone with the Wind, think old time actors and actresses, Clark Gable, Jean Simmons etc. Simple arts and crafts and keep in mind their fingers, old fingers don't bend as well when they were much younger. While at the Library, you can check out some books on CD's and play them in your common area or have a certain time set for it.
Depending where you are and the climate, but where I grew up in South Florida all the Nursing Homes and Assisted Living have outside courtyards and many of the residents loved to just sit outside in the fresh air and the warmth of the sun on their faces. Since many of them are inside what about an area for plants that they can sink their hands into if they wanted. There's just something about being inside all the time and fresh air is wonderful for moral.
Do any of the residents like word puzzles? Find out if they like actual Word Puzzles or the kind where you search for them, once you know you can go to a Dollar Store buy a book and then enlarge it to 11 X 17 and make copies. Think of games that they might have done as children. Lincoln Logs, Blocks, Coloring Books, Checkers, Chess.
All the Seniors I was around were in their late 80's or older sadly it seemed like a place where family dumped loved ones to get old and die. Harriet was one of my favorite people and she would cheat at cards and I always let her win. Then there was this one elderly lady who flat out did not like me at all or either of my dogs.
Whenever she saw me she always said without failure, "You're fat and your dogs look like pigs". I avoided her at all costs and then one day Daisy, Yogi and I ended up in the elevator with her and for whatever reason she just reached out and grabbed my chest. I guess in her mind she was pleased that she was more blessed than I was and never messed with me again.
There were 2 much younger people. One was like in her mid 20's and had a stroke. For whatever reason she was a permanent resident and she could no longer speak or really use her hands to write. The other was a lady who was in her early 50's who had Cerebral Palsy shared her room with her mother who took care of her instead of the nurses.
Depending on your rules and regulations, you could have contests, make them up as you go along, everyone loves seeing their own name in huge letters hung in the Dining Room or Common area and you could find really great prizes also at the Dollar Store. How about Silly Dress Up Day or certain days you encourage everyone to wear the same color whether it be clothes or pajamas.
If granted permission and you had a mini bus or van not to mention a few volunteers, they all looked forward to time away from the Home. Take them to a mall, many times they just like to sit and watch people go by. Anyway, I know how heart wrenching it is at times and it's not a job for everyone so extra blessing for you, for being kind and caring. Think of it as a Day Care for the elderly and your imagination will take you a long ways. :>)
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