Recently, CareYaya had the opportunity to speak with a staff member at Carolina Meadows, an elder care facility in Chapel Hill, for an inside look at dementia care. Katherine, the activities specialist for the memory care unit, also known as The Green, organizes the weekly schedule of activities for residents in the most advanced stages of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

Here are her responses to the questions we asked:

Q: In general, which philosophies or principles do you use to guide the selection of your activities?

A: “I like to choose my activities based on the 7 categories of social well being: physical, social, vocational, emotional, intellectual and environmental. Lots of the categories overlap when I plan the activities. Vocational refers to something productive that resembles a past occupation. For example, I include some ‘business-like’ activities, like giving back to the community, or even inviting residents to be part of planning the calendar. This puts them back into a ‘business’ mindset.

Q: What is the level of participation for activities in The Green?

A: “We have fourteen residents. There is always a variety of cognitive status no matter how many people there are. Some people can do our ‘fill-in-the-blank’ activities immediately, while others need more time to process. We get the most people to participate in our exercise activities.”

Q: How do you accommodate residents who have a more difficult time with certain tasks?

A: “We have more one-step or two-step activities for residents who have more advanced progression in dementia. For example, during art group, I might do hand-over-hand painting with residents. In general, there is always a mix and match every week of the seven categories. Group exercise is both physical and social. Intertwined through all activities, I try to encourage the emotional aspect of having an optimistic attitude while reminiscing, meditating, or listening to music.

Q: “How would you say Carolina Meadows upholds the ideal of person-centered care through activity planning?”
A: “Everywhere on campus, no matter what level of care, we try to account for peoples’ preferences and personalities. This happens while we plan activities for large groups, smaller groups, and one-on-ones.”

From this interview, we learned that there are many ways to plan activities to enjoy with people with dementia, across a broad range of skills and interests. Check out more of our resources on how to choose those activities so you can maximize your quality time with your loved one!