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I am the coordinator of social activities for an elderly care home. Any ideas for an easy, simple recipes, or food decorations for the residents to do?
By Malky from London
Icing sugar cookies.
Fold some paper into cards for the residents and provide glue and other craft materials for them to decorate. It's a great project for them to give to their families for the holidays. You can also make paper ornaments.
Try making some homemade chocolates which are fairly easy. You need semi sweet chocolate chips (or whichever you prefer) a can of nuts. ( I've used cashews) and some milk. Melt the chocolate chips on a double boiler. Stir in a bit of milk to thin the chocolate out a bit. Toss in the nuts and pour the mixture onto waxed paper. Set it in the fridge for a few hours and package. It makes a good item to sell at a bake sale.
My former mother-in-law is in an actual nursing home, in a wheel chair because she lost one leg, due to poor circulation. She helps bake the cakes, is in a handbell choir, they work on jigsaw puzzles, and I can't remember what else all she has mentioned doing, but they are always busy. This is in a small town of about 1,000 people.
My 91 yr old mother-in-law recently moved in with us and I too am looking for activities.
Believe it or not her very favourite thing to do is make cabbage rolls. She must have missed doing this and really enjoys getting her hands in there! I have noticed how much better she has become at doing this too; the arthritis that was crippling her is getting less disabling as she exercised her fingers.
There is always bingo. I worked in nursing home a total of 14 years. A few years ago I was a patient there twice in one year. One my favorite things was making individual pizzas. We flattened biscuits by just pressing on them and stretching them out. The activity person put on a little pizza sauce. We could choose our toppings such as mini pepperoni slices, onion, green peppers, etc. The kitchen baked them and we had a nice afternoon snack.
There was this game I played at school and I was thinking it would be fun for residents to do. You get a beach ball and you cover the entire ball with questions, about an inch apart from each other.
For the game, you toss the ball to a resident when they catch it whatever question their pointer finger on their right hand lands on that's the question that they have to answer. I think this games help promotes memory, because the questions are things they would have to think about, things from their pasts like what there favorite candy was growing up, or what they like to do on the weekends when they were younger. It also helps with physical because they have to catch the ball so they are up and being active.
Another thing is it helps residents get to know each other and socialize. I am going to be introducing this game to the assisted living facility that I currently work at.
I would like to ask your suggestions about any activities in a assisted living facility that I could add on to what we currently offer. Are there any suggestions, besides bingo?
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. :>)
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.
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I am starting up several activity sessions in an elderly people's care home. I am looking for ideas for crafts and different activities. We have residents of all different abilities. Can anyone suggest any ideas?
By diwhite22 from England
My mom was in an Alzheimer's unit until she passed last August. They would play ball, bouncing it to one another. It helped with coordination. They would color pictures, and make and bake cookies. The lady in charge of crafts would paint the ladies fingernails; they loved it. They bought a small basketball
net and basketball and they loved playing ball together. I guess it reminded them of being young. We put together a yard sale in the unit. Everyone helped out and the families of the residents donated and when it was over we gave to every one what was left. The money that was raised was used to buy supplies. We had a piano and someone would play and everyone would sing. We would get church bands to come in and play. Youth choirs would come sing. We had fish fries; they really they loved it.
One of the residents sons would BBQ some pork and chicken and we would make slaw and French fries and hush puppies. We had a great time. They would play dress up in different clothes and get their pictures taken and put on a bulletin board where everyone could see them. We had a beauty contest and a mock wedding. They loved bingo and it kept their minds sharp. Real prizes were given away. I guess when you are older you like to do the same things as everyone else except you like it a little closer to home so you don't have to travel and you like it in the daytime because you get sleepy early. Hope this helps. (08/01/2009)
One more thing I left out. Parties, parties, parties. Everyone got to celebrate their birthdays with a party and hats. Have cake, ice cream and all kinds of snacks and presents, too. They would take a different country once a month and learn about it and even try to eat a sample of food from there. They would have a simple craft from that country to work on. Hope this helps. I know how much these people miss home and I love wonderful people that take their time to help moms and dads not feel so lonely because they can't go home anymore. God bless you! (08/01/2009)
I worked a facility like this and we had fun! Every Tuesday was Bingo Night and prizes were given.
They had craft and goodies sales in the home. Mostly family and workers bought things. They also got a parakeet and everyone had their day with it. Good luck! (08/01/2009)
I thought of something to add. Simple puzzles and card games can really be fun. I'd say get the elementary or even preschool-level puzzles, since the more advanced puzzle pieces might be too small to see or handle. Any card game would do, from regular 52-card decks for rummy, to Uno, Skip-bo, Old Maid, etc. Again, larger cards or large-print cards would probably be preferable. They are easier to see and handle. (08/02/2009)
I work in a nursing home and nail care is a great idea, but no one, but a CNA or nurse should be trimming diabetics nails.
If you have residents with Alzheimer's or dementia, they can sort beads into egg cartons it keeps their minds active, also I give them blank check books because many people will try to give people money or pay bills, as it's a habit they had all their lives. This keeps them from giving money to dishonest people who would take advantage. I can't tell you how many times I have seen this.
Current events are a great activity, remember that seniors vote more than any other demographic and do have an interest and opinion on political and current issues. Read the paper and ask questions. Encourage them to give opinions and talk.
There is a magazine called Remince(sp?) which we read every morning before breakfast. This allows them to recall the good old days, share stories, and make and keep friends within the facility. Also it is a learning experience for the staff member reading the magazine aloud to hear all their stories and better relate to your resident. This is a good activity with coffee and pastries.
A gardening club set aside an area outside accessible to residents with walkers and wheel chairs, let them design, plant, and care for a garden. Flowers are more popular with the female residents, vegetables are more popular among men. When blooming, residents can make flower arrangements, for church table settings or any reason you want really.
A monthly fiddlers or other musical activity with songs they grew up with. We had a sock hop with ice cream sundaes burgers think Happy Days. Compile music from the period to play in the back ground.
Have a monthly residents' society where they can give you ideas of things they would like to do also where they can make suggestions on food, service or other issues. A caregiver should not be in charge of this because it limits what residents may feel comfortable saying.
Have a weekly bridge, cribbage, rummy, or other game. For the men (men often get left out) a trip out to go fishing. (ask family to help) Plan a country drive if your facility has a van.
We play the Price is Right and wheelchair baseball.
Find out if any of your staff knows tai chi or modified yoga. If not ask an instructor to volunteer once a week or to teach your activities director, tai chi is an excellent activity for seniors. You might even try stretching or wheel chair exercise.
Balloon tennis can also be played from a chair. Or you could start a book club.
Animals are good for the health of your residents whether you have a facility pet or family and staff bring their dogs or cats in at a designated time to visit.
Many facilities use Nintendo wii for physical therapy, they can play the wii sports.
Have movie night at least once a week in the evening. Serve popcorn and put a movie on in a common area.
Another good idea is Bingo with prizes. Perhaps you could start a quilting circle. (quilts can be sold and proceeds go to the residents and activity dept.)
Invite local elementary schools to sing at Christmas also boy scouts are always happy to help.
Schedule an ice cream social.
Hold weekly bible studies for those interested, remember to respect personal beliefs.
Try a barbecue for holiday's or during the summer months.
If you have a local sports team or one that's close serve hot dogs or burgers and watch the game on TV encourage resident to wear their baseball caps. Kentucky Derby is great for making inventive hats to wear.
Have a red hat society for your ladies or a women's tea once a month with finger sandwiches and a selection of teas and juices, invite the public to increase interest in your facility and your census.
During holiday's decorate trees you can even invite the public and local businesses (businesses are best) and have a tree auction proceeds go to your activities dept. Each tree can have a theme and the residents can decorate. This does bring in money. We also have a pumpkin painting/carving contest. The pumpkins blank can be brought to local businesses with a date to return by, have a harvest or Halloween party and judge the pumpkins prizes for top three pumpkins.
Have an open house or tours one day week, many people think assisted and residential care is the same as nursing homes, an active facility is a full and healthy facility.
If you need more help send a message and I'd be glad to help. (08/23/2009)
As long as my last post was I have another to add we do Trivial Pursuit over the intercom activities. Drs or admin ask questions over the intercom and the 1st person with the right answer gets a prize. We do this all day one day a month. Also a weekly or daily riddle put out on the table at meals (keep scratch paper and pencils in the middle of the table with salt and pepper) leave an answer box by the dining room door that they can put their answers in or can give to staff. We award small prizes to correct answers. (08/23/2009)
Try scrap booking, I bought my residents disposable camera's and they went to town with it, they loved it.
Then they made their own scrap books and one for the facility.
I also had a lot of cooking demo's with different staff members.
If you have a kitchen, I also at one time did fried eggs Friday's that was a huge hit, and taco in a bag, for fund- raisers. (08/31/2010)
I'm an Activities Director at a small assisted living home. I'm always looking for new ideas of interactive crafts, games, stories, and other stuff for my residents to do. Any suggestions? Thanks!
Jessie from Mauston, WI
Hey, so am I! It's really hard isn't it? Most of them can't do anything. But they enjoy watching me try to do everything. It sure makes them laugh. What kinds of things do you do now? If you're like me, you probably do a lot of Bingo. (03/11/2009)
We recently moved. I came across my Mom's hand print which was made at a nursing home she was in before she passed. I assume they used finger paint or something similar. At the top of the heavier white paper was this poem:
For my child:
My hands have grown older through the years,
And they have wiped away many tears.
They held you when you were young and
wiped a tear to keep you strong.
So, hang this on your wall to view.
Remember that I will always love you!
Her hand print was below this. I had copies of this made for my brothers and also for my grandchildren. They still remember great-grandma. This would be a great gift for the residents to make for their kids and grand kids for birthdays, Christmas, or other holidays.
Also, she had always loved doing crafts and at the nursing home (because she was so shaky) she did a lot of painting of velvet poster with markers. The velvet hid her shakiness but she could use her imagination for colors, etc. Even when she did duplicate posters, she would choose different colors for each. We always made sure she had lots of extra markers in a variety of colors.
Some of the residents worked regularly on jigsaw puzzles. They also had some type of wheelchair bowling, but I don't remember what they used.
Just recently, there was something in Thrifty Fun about doing sculptures using miniature marshmallows and toothpicks. I am sure some of the residents could come up with some great ones. Or what about a "show and tell"? They could share special stories from their past, or show and tell about a special treasure of theirs. And yes, they did play bingo at my Mom's home!
Have them sit on chairs holding a bed sheet, put a ball on the sheet, and have them not let the ball bounce out of the sheet. (03/11/2009)
Picture frame shadow boxes. You'll need a little glue, and have them bring a special picture and items. You would have to glue the frames together for them. They can glue all their stuff to the glass. Write me if you need to know more on how to, and how easy it is. (03/12/2009)
When I was in a nursing home for a couple of months after a car wreck, the Activities people regularly read items from the local newspaper. They called it "Newsbreak" and the reader would read the title of an article and take votes whether the group wanted to hear the whole article. They did the obits, too, reading full obits for the group upon request.
Also, our Activities folks created holidays. They did a "Frog Day" with a sort of bean bag toss game using little plastic frogs, and they served "frog legs" (hot dogs put together with toothpicks, which of course they removed before they let us eat the hot dogs) for lunch. I was only there a couple of months, but I still appreciated the fun things they put together. A creative and lively Activities team makes all the difference! (03/13/2009)
My mom is in an assisted living facility now. On Fridays they have dominoes, the ladies have manicures, the preschool kids come in and sing for 15 to 20 minutes, and then there is the usual cards, and WI bowling (this is a biggie there!). There is always a puzzle out on a table for the residents to do. There is a quilt in the frame for anyone who wants to work on it. They had crochet and knitting classes. They play bingo every week and once a month they play McDonald's bingo, with the prizes being McDonald's coupons. Hope these help. (03/14/2009)
I just heard of a great idea that was very popular: karaoke. Enjoy! (03/15/2009)