Making Your Visits More Meaningful –
Activities You Can Do While You Visit
(This list can be shared with staff outside the activity
department, volunteers and family members to give them constructive things to do while visiting)

To be most successful, the activities you do should be engaging and have meaning to
the resident.  Creative activities are great as you spend time creating something
together over a period of time and than you can reminisce about them on subsequent
visits.  Take into consideration their life-long interests and present interests.  
Incorporate these interests into your visits; you may have to modify them according to
their present abilities so that they have some measure of success.

Some ideas that are successful are:
  1. Interactive reading – read a book, poetry, or magazine aloud to them and ask
    questions/offer discussion.  Bring props associated with the article so they have
    something to see and hold and to prompt further discussion.
  2. Decorate their bulletin boards with them.  Use a theme appropriate to their
    interests or can be changed seasonally.  Another idea would be to make a
    collage of their life together.  And still another idea:  Make a seasonal wreath
    together to hang on their door.
  3. Bring in seasonal items i.e. fresh flowers from your garden and arrange them
    together in a vase; seasonal treats i.e. strawberries, pussy willows, etc. and
    reminisce related to the topic.
  4. Reminisce about their past, things of importance to them i.e. Summer days of
    childhood, farming, family, occupation, one room school, etc.  Talk about how
    things have changed over the years.  Talk about the cost of things now
    compared to then.
  5. Tour the home or grounds – sit out doors on patio areas or if you are fortunate
    enough to have a Sensory Garden spend some time together there enjoying
    natures beauty, sounds and smells, utilize the w/c accessible swing if you have
    one.  If you feel real ambitious, walk them over to Dairy Queen for a treat. (Or
    whatever is close by).  If this isn’t feasible, bring in their favorite treat to share
    together or bring in items to make their favorite recipe together by scheduling the
    use of the Activity Kitchen.  Making apple pie with their recipe has more meaning
    than sharing apple pie from the grocery store.  
  6. Keep them informed about family events via stories, pictures and home videos.
  7. Do crosswords, jigsaw puzzles, trivia, cards, board games, etc. together.  
    Supplies should be available in an activity cupboard in the activity area and on
    units, just need to be sure they are returned after you are done borrowing them.
  8. Create a memory book or memory box with objects of significant meaning to the
    resident i.e. family, gardening, sewing, homemaker, tools, wood working, again
    this would be dependent upon the individuals interests.

  9. Have a family photo album, including pictures of when they were children,
    married and other significant life events.  Suggest scanning pictures and putting
    in those instead of family heirloom pictures, which could be lost or destroyed
    accidentally.  Memory books, memory boxes and photo albums help staff to
    have meaningful conversations with them as well, helps staff to know them
    better.
  10. Look through catalogs or the sale papers from the newspaper; you don’t have to
    order, “window” shopping is fun too!  You could discuss the price of things and
    what sale items are of interest or that you might buy if you went on a shopping
    spree.  Of course getting something new makes one feel special so if there is a
    store in walking distance, take a little walk and let them pick out something for
    themselves.  It’s fun to sit and people watch too.
  11. Share prayers, rosary or devotionals together.
  12. Do primping/grooming; paint fingernails, fix hair or give a chair massage.
  13. Plant a plant together for the resident to care for in their room.
  14. Have CD’s/tapes and a boom box in their room for personal enjoyment of music
    of their liking.
  15. Watch a video or DVD together, VCR’s/DVD players should be made available
    on each of the units and in the activity room.  Of course a movie wouldn’t be
    complete without popcorn, pop some in the microwave in the lounge to enjoy
    together.
  16. Share jokes/humor.
  17. Do a weather calendar together and keep it up throughout the year noting rain or
    snow amounts, temperatures, cloudy or sunny, etc.
  18. Help them write a simple autobiography or an “advice” book they want to leave
    behind for family.
  19. Do a personal montage or museum together.
  20. Help them write a life review.  These are easy to create on a computer or there
    are books you can purchase.
  21. Bring in familiar objects for them to see, hold, feel and discuss.
  22. Sing their favorite songs with them (a “singing voice” is nice, but not necessary).
  23. Create a cheerful banner to hang in their room.
  24. Create a personal calendar.
  25. Teach them how to use a computer (hopefully the Activity Dept. has a least one
    designated for the residents use).  Surfing the Internet, getting emails and
    playing games opens a whole new world.
  26. Play the WII game together, especially with the visiting grandchildren.  Great way
    to have intergenerational activity of meaning and fun!

The options are limitless; this listing is just to get your creative juices flowing.

Debbie R. Bera/ADC
NAAP Vice President
National Association of Activity Professionals (NAAP)
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