Susan Berg's Activity Ideas Galore
By Susan Berg, CDP, AD,  BS(COTA/L)
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Susan Berg
Author, Activity Director
Activities Director Blog
Alzheimers Ideas
About Susan

Susan Berg has been a
healthcare professional and
educator for over 20 years. She
is the, activity director, of
many years, at Hunt Nursing
and Rehabilitation Center in
Danvers. While there, she has
gained much dementia care
and activity experience and
knowledge. She has had
special training in dementia
care and dementia activities
through the Alzheimer’s
Association and other
educational forums. Berg is the
author of Adorable
Photographs of Our Baby-
Meaningful, Mind-Stimulating
Activities and More for the
Memory Challenged, Their
Loved Ones, and Involved
Professionals, a book for those
with dementia and an
excellent resource for
caregivers and healthcare
professionals.
Take a look
at Susan's book
Flash Cards are
available  to use
with Susan's Book
Note:  They can also be
used without the book
and are ideal for group
use.
Spiritual Activity of Older Adults

This article is written by Cindy Tuttle http://www.cindytuttletheauthor.com
Author of Prayers of the Soul and a guest writer for Susan Berg

Working with older adults with severe cognitive impairments can be challenging. Here
is a spiritual activity that many of these folks are sure to enjoy. It is an inter-
denominational faith group for participants. The title sounds simple but you can call it
anything you want.

Many of these folks went to church when they were growing up and have fond
memories of the spiritual songs and being with other people of their faith community.  
An activity such as this is sure to bring back fond memories. Thus it is important as a
weekly or more often program.

I like to invite people of all faiths and set some rules before the group starts. One rule is
that every faith is respected and that no one would try to convert someone to their
religion. Another is that anything shared would be kept in the group and there would be
only encouraging words when someone shared something. The group would be safe
warm and comforting.

I start by picking familiar hymns that most people know. If they do not know them, they
should be easy to learn. Sometimes you can get suggestions from the participants. You
also may get ideas from a local clergymen or chaplains. You can read
http://www.
associatedcontent.
com/article/7703827/how_chaplains_help_nursing_home_residents.html?cat=5  for
some more ideas. On occasion, you can use simple musical instruments

I would start the group with the singing of a few hymns. Then I would have a reflection
question to discuss. An idea for a refection question might be: “How can we show love
to others? “ Along with the question, I would have a simple art project that went along
with the reflection question. So, for that question I might ask the participants to draw or
write about how someone showed love to them. Of course I would offer help as
necessary. Often you can get a higher functioning group member to help those who are
having trouble. In fact you can have participants share their ideas and ways to illustrate
them. Then we would share the finished products with all in the group and explain them.

We then would recite a familiar prayer or make up one of our own that would go along
with the drawings. Then we would sing a couple more familiar hymns and end the
group with “The Lords Prayer.”

It often helps the focus of the group if you have a particular subject that you can base
your question and art on. Some suggestions might be seasons of the year, holidays,
other special occasions, people in a family and animals.

After doing this type of group for about six months, I would ask a higher functioning
group member to “run” the group. Of course, I would be there if he or she needed any
help. Sometimes doing this does this participant a world of good in building self
confidence. Sometimes group leaders take their role seriously and blossom.

There may be some group members who want to attend a service in an off site church.
You may be able to assist in getting him or her there. Communities often have “Shut in
Masses” for those who live in a long term care facility or are homebound. Take
advantage of those kinds of services. Church members are eager to help. It's important
for your residents to see that their only role is not that of a nursing home resident...
Their faith is an important part of who they are and what they believe. Maybe we can see
how we can support people in their faith in whatever program we work in. The rewards
can be great!