They say the first step to recognizing you have a problem is to admit it. So here it goes… I think about Dementia Programming morning, noon and night; you could say I’m obsessed. My garage is full of projects I’m in the process of completing and I dream of new projects I’d like to start. It’s something I’ve always done by myself but thought it might be fun to document my process and share it with others who have the same passion when it comes to creating stimulating environments for seniors with Dementia.
Trinkets and Treasures
Fortunate for me (but not for my husband) I live very close to one of the largest swap meets in the state of California. I wander down aisle after aisle of people’s “stuff” on any given Sunday. Some might refer to these boxes of miscellaneous trinkets, old trophies and worn out baseball gloves as trash worthy, but I search for the story inside those discarded items. What I find on my venture will connect me in a very special way with the people who gave up these items (for whatever reason) and the residents who live in the Senior Living community I am helping create.
Some might refer to these boxes of miscellaneous trinkets, old trophies and worn out baseball gloves as trash worthy, but I search for the story inside those discarded items.
My eyes quickly scan each vendor’s lot which has turned a once giant parking lot, into a trove of treasures. I spot a cardboard box with the lid partially opened. The box is dusty and the label has worn off over time but I see it’s filled with old pool balls whose color has dulled from years of play. The man trying to sell them quickly makes his way over to me giving me a “pitch” on how well they are made and who the manufacturer is. I force myself not to smile as my heart starts racing. What he doesn’t know is that I will take them home with me no matter what price we end up negotiating for them. As I pull out my cash and then place the box in my bright red cart (purchased at a garage sale), I think about the conversations our caregivers will have with our residents, all of whom will have some form of memory loss.
The Beauty of a Conversation
Have they ever played a game of pool? Who taught them how to play? What are the rules of the game? What is the significance of the black 8 ball? What is the stick called you use to hit the balls? Have you ever heard the term “rack ‘em up?” What does that mean? Did you or someone else you know ever have a pool table in a game room or the basement of their house? What color was the felt on top of the table?
The beauty of a conversation like this is that it often takes the resident on a journey filled with life experience and rediscovery. We never know where or how far the discussion will take us or what we, as caregivers, will learn from the interaction. We each take something away from the experience and make a connection with another person in a way that’s often very hard to describe and even more difficult to forget…
The beauty of a conversation like this is that it often takes the resident on a journey filled with life experience and rediscovery.
Creating stimulating and creative environments for seniors with memory loss is what fills me up. As my team and I move closer to opening our own community, I will take you on my journey of treasure hunts, discoveries and thought process. Thank you for coming along with me.