Pathways to the Past
by Sandra Stimson ADC, CALA, CDP
Executive Director,
Alternative Solutions in Long Term Care
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Executive Director
Alternative Solutions in LTC
National Council of Certified
Dementia Practitioners  
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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
Council of Certified Dementia

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 supplies,
resources and links.
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Rockwell print
is paired with
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Resident Rights and is
illustrated by a picture
depicting the "Resident
click here to purchase
resident rights prints

It is very important when activity directors are planning their calendars
to incorporate as many ideas into the calendar that aide in reminiscing.
Here are a few suggestions to consider.

FREE Download: Pathways To The Past Articles: Creating Themed Boxes, Memory
Boxes and Themed Trunks


FREE Eldersong Activity Ideas. Each month they feature reminisce ideas that are
seasonal and themed related. Excellent. Download all of them!

FREE: Download this fantastic resource Alzheimer’s and Dementia Programming: A
Guide to Direct Care Staff. Pages of Ideas. See all the ideas for making reminiscing kits.

Tea Cup Gardening:  You can go to any church thrift shop and purchase Tea Cups /
Saucers for as little as ten cents. You can use these tea cups to plant seeds, seedlings
and spring flowers such as pansies.  They are pretty to look at and can be used over
and over again.

Purchase a George Forman Grill and make all kinds of things. Grilled Cheese
Sandwiches to just about any kind of food can be cooked on the grill. Will smell great

Take a ride to a residents’ old neighborhood. If the neighbors are still there, arrange a
short in visit.

Egg Relay: Use hard boiled eggs and large spoons and keep passing until the music

Contact a local church and invite them to perform their Easter Performance.  Or if
possible take the residents to the performance.

Place large coffee table books of  flowers, fairs and water gardens on the table.

Begin a spring / summer club with children and their pets. See Pet Express Pet Therapy
Program at

Plan a spring art show and show all the art work by your residents.  Enter their art work
in community art shows and county fairs art exhibits.

Provide paint and paper and have the residents paint a portrait of their neighbor or have
a model such as the activity assistant.

See the Sunshine and Joy Reminiscing Books at

See West Virginia Activity Association Newsletter for Themed Boxes and reminiscing

Set up Themed areas or rooms: For a garden room have the following props and again
many of these can be donated from home or visit the local thrift shop or garden centers
or discount stores, such as Target or Wall mart.  For the garden room, rakes, shovels,
wheel barrow, sun hats, garden gloves, plants, dirt, bird bath, bird houses, vegetable
plants, silk butterflies, silk birds, out side chairs and out side tables.  The sights and
smells should stimulate memories and aide in socialization.  Have prepared questions
to reminisce with your residents about regarding gardening.  See Alzheimer’s Care
Group for Ideas

For room bound residents prepare small trunks that you can purchase at craft stores
and fill with items listed above. Discuss the same questions with the residents.  Each
week, swap out the items and fill with a new theme. The ideas are endless. There are
great books at called Wake Up, Best Friends Volume 1 and 2 and
Sensory Enrichment Sensory Stimulation Book.  Also see Alzheimer’s Care Group for
Interactive Programming Kits

Plan a visit to a small nursery and see all the flowers. The sights of the gorgeous
flowers, smells, the butterflies and birds are sure to make this a memorable day. Go on
a day and time where it is not crowded. Have everyone wear the facility shirt with the
name of your facility on it. In case someone wanders off, you are sure to remember
what they are wearing.  But bring enough people to provide one on one supervision at
all times.  

Take a drive to view the Cherry Blossoms when they are in full bloom.  Also many areas
have Lilac Festivals.  

Get the garden ready, pull weeks and rake. Provide one rake for each person. If raised
beds, provide hand small rakes.

Visit local nurseries, garden centers, water garden centers, flower shows.

Plant annuals and or spring bulbs

Make perfume from Lilacs or Roses.

Read poems and quotes about Spring

Guided Imagery: or visit for other Guided Imagery Tapes.    

Create a Visual Journey: Put on soft music and ask residents to write down their
thoughts of spring or draw spring.

Invite a local farm or petting zoo to bring the baby animals. Be sure to comply with state
regulations regarding visiting pets.  Many states have pet therapy farms who regularly
visit long term care settings.

Have a butterfly farm as it is fun to see the butterflies emerge from the cocoon.

Order a hatchery from a local farm and watch the baby chicks hatch.  It is truly amazing
and provides hours of enjoyment.

Begin a pet therapy club with children and pets. See Pet Express Pet
Therapy Book.

Contact the American Girl clubs and invite them to a tea with your residents.

Take residents to local community outside sports games.

Make Flower Pins: Purchase from Target or Wall mart a silk flower (bunch) bouquet
usually under 10.00 (Dollar stores have flowers too!), cut off the flowers and hot glue
gun on pin backs.  Simple and easy and fun.  

Sit out side and serve different fruit drinks: Here is one great spring drink
Berry Freeze:
Source: Eating Tips: A Nutrition Guide for Adults, God's Love We Deliver
  • 6 Strawberries—frozen
  • or fresh, sliced
  • 3⁄4 cup cranberry juice
  • 1 banana—peeled, frozen
  • 4 oz pineapple chunks
  • (in natural juices)
  • 8 oz low fat strawberry yogurt
  • 3⁄4 cup low fat milk
  • (or 1 scoop of protein powder)
  • 6-8 ice cubes
  • If using fresh fruit, wash well.
  • Place all ingredients in blender, blend
  • until smooth. Makes 2 servings.

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