By Sandra Stimson ADC, CALA, CDP Executive Director,
Alternative Solutions in Long Term Care

Sandra Stimson has experience as a
corporate consultant, Corporate Trainer
and National Speaker. Her experience is
in long term care, as Activity Director,
Director of Alzheimer's Units and
Assistant Administrator of a 550 bed long
term care county home.  She is
Co-founder of Pet Express Pet Therapy
Club, is a Life Replay Specialist.  
Sandra implements dementia units
nationwide.  Sandra has written several
books, Volunteer Management
Essentials for Long Term Care and Pet
Express Pet Therapy Program. Sandra
has been a facilitator for Alzheimer's
support groups and is the Awards Chair
for the NJ Association of Activity
Professionals.  Sandra is the Executive
Director of
National Council of Certified
Dementia Practitioners  

Alternative Solutions in Long Term
Care offers resources for health care
professionals in many areas of dementia
care, care plans, Snoezelen products,
dementia activity calendars, adult day
care calendars, sensory calendars,
reminisce videos for dementia, activity
books, and dates to remember, party
resources and links.
Each Norman Rockwell print is
paired with a national standards of
Resident Rights and is
illustrated by a picture depicting
the "Resident Right."

click here to purchase resident
rights prints
for Activity Professionals
in Long Term Care Settings

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Sandra Stimson
Seasonal and Themed Ideas
Are a Better Way To Plan Calendars

Sandra Stimson CALA, ADC, CDP
Alternative Solutions in Long Term Care
National Council of Certified Dementia Practitioners

The most important aspect of the Activity Directors job is planning and implementing a
calendar.  It is important to know your residents through a population analysis. Once you
know your population, the next task is to plan your calendar.  Many directors have gotten
into the habit of planning and printing their calendars by the 15th of the month. If the
calendar is due September 1st, many directors have their calendars completed by August
15th. But what is the best way to plan a calendar?

The Director should be sitting down with the staff a good 45 days out to begin the planning
process.  Waiting till the last minute is very stressful   The director should provide to her
staff the calendar, Creative Forecasting, activities to be included and a theme for the month.
Ask your staff to come prepared with three ideas each for crafts, cooking, and discussions
and one idea for a special event. Involve the resident council and activity planning
committee in providing ideas and themes.

The best way to get everyone thinking about ideas is to provide a theme for the month that
is related to the season. It makes planning the calendar a lot easier when you have a theme.
Ideas for themes are endless and with many opportunities to expand your calendar and try
new ideas.  Once you have come up with a theme for the month, you can build your
programs such as cooking, crafts, trivia, discussions, speakers, trips, movies and special
events around the theme.  The director should take the time to go on the Internet and look
for ideas to present to the staff.

A good example is February.  The theme for February might be Love & Romance.  The
theme name should be placed on the top of the calendar.  You could kick off the month with
a planned proposal.  Cooking ideas might be decorating a wedding cake and preparing hors
d'oeuvres served at a reception.  Crafts might include making decorations for a wedding. A
horticulture idea might be to make wedding bouquets.  The special events could be a bridal
shower complete with gifts, a bachelor party, a formal wedding and reception. The
entertainer could play the traditional songs played at weddings. You can make the wedding
really interesting by having a wedding that honors another culture.  Often times a resident,
staff member or volunteer will renew their vows.  You might even find someone who can not
afford a wedding and would be thrilled to have it at your facility.

Discussions might include “Where were you married, Where did you go on your honeymoon,
What did your wedding cost, How did you meet your husband and Tips for the Bride”.  You
could have a wedding bulleting board and ask staff and residents to bring in their wedding
photos. A trivia game could be famous couples. You can rent movies about famous
weddings such as Princess Dianna and funny wedding bloopers. You could invite speakers
from a travel agency on honey moon destinations, a hair salon to show different hair styles
and an owner of a local wedding store to host a fashion show. You could have a Tuxedo
shop conduct a male fashion show.  Movies could be famous honey moon destinations. You
could reminisce using a veil, wedding dress, tuxedo, flowers, etc. As you can see, once you
have a theme the ideas are endless. Try making the entire month about a theme vs one

Once you come up with a theme for the month, it makes planning the calendar so much fun.  
One year I planned it around old time houses. The month included history of the Sears
House, History of Toilet Paper, History of Out houses. Discussion on how things were done
in the past and modern conveniences from washing clothes and old irons you heat on the
stove to the microwave.  We had games to try to identify old gadgets.  It was a lot of fun and
residents had a blast remembering all kinds of things from the past.  Did you know it was
fashionable at one time to have pineapple wall paper!  

Try this idea out at your next calendar planning and see if you don’t agree, how much fun
planning a calendar can be when you have a interesting theme.     
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