JOURNAL IN A JAR
Pamela Wessinger, ADC
I have worked in Long-Term Care for 18 years. I have not only worked in Activities but I
am also a CNA. I would have to say of the two, my most rewarding challenge has been
Activities. Each day brings smiles, hugs, and a tremendous supply of blessings. When
I leave in the afternoon, I can truly say, it's worth it all.
As I look into the faces of my residents who have been stricken with Alzheimer's,
Dementia and other illnesses that have made them conform to a different way of life
than what they have always known, I am reminded how precious our memories are.
Sometimes I find myself looking in a blank stare and thinking, "What kind of person
were you?", "What did you do for a living?", “What were your childhood fears?" and
“Where were you born?" They, of course, cannot answer those questions now, but how
wonderful it would've been if someone had written those answers down for their
families to look back on and read so they could remember the person they once were. I
wish I had done that for my grandparents because I have a lot of questions without
answers. With that in mind, I decided I would begin a journey with my resident's so they
would have something to give to their children and grandchildren. I created their own
"Journal in a Jar". This is a wonderful activity designed to help you get to know your
resident's better, as well as, the wonderful gift of memories that cannot be replaced for
those who know them best.
We should all preserve our memories and preserve them well because the time may
come when we lose them. It's one thing for us to lose our keys in the mornings or
forget what we ate for lunch, but to look into our children's face and not be able to recall
their name or remember who we are and were is totally different. Also, this journal is a
precious keepsake for your family members to pull out and read after their loved one
has passed away. I had one family member tell me that she sat down with a cup of
coffee and had a ball just pulling out the slips of paper and reading the answers their
mother gave to the questions that were asked of her, and this is a way they can do just
The questions I ask are from the day they were born to what their funeral plans are. I
cover birth, adolescent, teen years, marriage, birth of children, thoughts on being in the
nursing home and death. I cover deep thought questions such as: "What is the one
thing you were afraid of when you were a small child? What are you most afraid of
now? If you could live your life over again, would you? Why or why not? If you could
change any part of yourself, what would it be? Tell me about your ancestors." And so
much more! In all, I probably have close to 100 questions. It takes several days to
complete for each resident.
How I begin is I type up and print a sample copy of questions off the computer. I then
meet with the resident and begin asking the questions. While they are talking, I am
writing. After I am finished, I go back into the computer and add their answers in my
format (question and answer). I keep doing this until their journal is completed. After I
am done, I print the questions and answers off on different colored paper or white
(doesn't matter). I cut each question/answer out into a strip. I then fold each strip and
place it in a large mouth mason jar. I tape a little poem on the inside of the jar facing the
front explaining the purpose of the jar. Their full name is added at the bottom of the
poem including their first, middle, maiden and last name. Underneath that, I place their
date of birth.
After the jar is full and all questions are included, I hot glue polyfill on top of the lid. I cut
a piece of fabric out in the shape of a square on top of the polyfilled lid. Hot glue is
placed along the inside rim of the ring. I press the lid up into the ring, making sure it is
snug and poufy. The lid is then screwed on the jar. Finally, a piece of ribbon of my
choosing is hot glued along the outside of the ring with a pretty bow tied in front. (Make
sure the bow is in front of your poem.) I also tie different colored wooden name tags
that are purchased from craft stores with the name: made with love, from mom or dad.
It is then ready to be given to the family, which is the best part.
Families are so happy to receive this gift of love. I can’t tell enough about the many
touching stories I've received from family who’s loved one has passed on telling me
how much they appreciate their jar of memories. I don't know who gets more out of it...
the families, the resident or me. It's a great way to reminisce with your resident's.
There will be laughter and there may be tears but it's a precious gift that you had a part
in. I'm a firm believer in what you give to the lives of others; you can't help but get it back
in return. There are many websites you can go to and search out questions that may be
of interest to you. Just Google search: "journal questions". It doesn't have to be long. It
can be as simple as you want. How you create it is up to you. May it be as much a
blessing to you as it is to me.
|National Association of Activity Professionals (NAAP)
Founded by Activity Professionals for Activity Professionals...
Join Today! You can download and mail in this application with your payment
Join our Activity Director
board and network with
across the country. This
is a free service.
SHOPPING & MORE
At Resident Shopping &
More you will find
clothing and more for
your residents. Also, you
will find Activity
and gifts for you, your
residents, your facility
and your Department.
Be sure to visit.
|Featuring supplies for
|ESPECIALLY DESIGNED WITH SENIORS IN MIND
|FEATURING TONS OF BULLETIN BOARD AND CRAFT SUPPLIES
Founded by Activity Professionals
for Activity Professionals...
NAAP is the only national group that
represents activity professionals in geriatric
settings exclusively. NAAP serves as a
catalyst for both professional and personal
growth and has come to be recognized by
government officials as the voice of the
activity profession on national issues
concerning long-term care facilities,
retirement living, assisted living, adult day
services, and senior citizen centers. NAAP
is nationwide in scope with a growing
membership in Canada and Bermuda.
The National Association of Activity
Professionals recognizes the following
The quality of life of the
client/resident/participant/patient served is
the primary reason for our services.
The strength of NAAP lies in the diversity of
its members. NAAP recognizes the rich
cultural, and educational backgrounds of its
members and values the variety of
The strength of NAAP also lies in the
development and promotion of scientific
research which further defines and supports
the activity profession.
NAAP values the development and
maintenance of coalitions with
organizations whose mission is similar to
that of NAAP's for the purposes of
advocacy, research, education, and
promotion of activity services and activity
NAAP values members who become
involved at the state and national level to
promote professional standards as well as
encourage employers to recognize them as
NAAP affords Activity Professionals across
the country the opportunity to speak with a
NAAP successfully worked with members of
Congress to secure a change in the nursing
home reform title of the 1987 Omnibus
Budget Reconciliation Act (OBRA).
Through our efforts, it became mandatory
that an activity program, directed by a
qualified professional, be provided in every
nursing home that receives Medicare
and/or Medicaid funds.
NAAP was the only professional activity
association to participate in HCFA's
workgroups that revised OBRA's interpretive
guidelines now in effect.
NAAP provides assistance at the state level
to promote certification of activity
professionals, working toward uniform
professional standards for activity practice.
To provide excellence
in support services to
assistance, promotion of
standards, fostering of
research, and peer and
WHY NOT JOIN NOW?
There are so many benefits when you
belong to NAAP! Each member will
receive a newsletter which will give the
updated reports on Government Relations,
Special Interests, International Updates,
Professional Development, Nominations,
Standards of Practice, Financial Updates
and a Membership Report. Along with this
comes an update from our President, Diane
Mockbee, and our Executive Director,
Members will also receive a discounted rate
at the Annual Conference which is held in
March/April of each year.
Effective JAN 1, 2006 membership dues are:
- Active Membership = $75 USD
- Associate Membership = $65 USD
- International Membership (outside
US) = $65 USD
- Student Membership = $55 USD
- Supportive Membership = $99 USD
Email us for more information at
Click Here to Download a
National Association of Activity
P.O. Box 5530
Sevierville, TN 37864
phone (865) 429-0717
fax (865) 453-9914
PLEASE NOTE: Any opinion, advice,
statements, offers or other information or
contents expressed or made herein by third
parties is neither endorsed nor adopted by
the National Association of Activity
Professionals unless otherwise stated. NAAP
is neither responsible for nor warrants the
accuracy or reliability of any such opinion,
advice, information or statement made or
offered by third parties in this publication
(website). NAAP has the right, but not the
obligation, to monitor and review the
content that it feels violates the terms of its
understanding with the third party: violates
the policies and purposes of NAAP; or is
defamatory or otherwise deemed
PLEASE NOTE: The articles set forth in this
publication are for informational purposes
only. Nothing contained herein shall be
construed as legal advice. The statements
made herein are those of the respective
authors and are not necessarily an
expression of the views of NAAP.