Are you planning on visiting a loved one that’s currently living in a long term care facility? Does that loved one have cognitive impairments? If so, you may want to consider engaging your family in a pre-visit craft activity. Afterward, the finished craft item could be shared with your loved one during your visit. Not sure what craft projects to choose. Don’t worry. As a former nursing home social worker, I happen to know of a few that you may want to try. Here they are:
Scrapbooks (Photo Album)
Based on my experience, scrapbooks are excellent items to consider making for your loved one. However, I would recommend using albums that have hard, non-porous surfaces that are capable of being cleaned frequently with anti-bacterial wipes. The reason why it is important to choose those types of albums is that certain germs can live outside of the body and be transferred from one person to another through the handling of objects. Thus, the scrapbook’s cover and pages should ideally be wiped down before and after use. In my experience, vinyl photo album covers and vinyl photo pages tend to work well in such situations.
Once you have your album on hand, fill its pages with mementos that may spark a memory for your loved one. Items to consider utilizing in the scrapbook’s construction are photos, newspaper clippings, old letters and pages from a magazine.
Memory boxes are another item to consider making. To create one, fill a non-porous container, like a plastic shoe box, with mementos. Based on my experience, the items in the box should ideally match the recipient’s cognitive level and be changed out periodically. For example, if your loved one is in the advance stages of Alzheimer’s disease, you will want to remove any objects from the box that they could accidently use to hurt themselves or others. Examples include knitting needles, sewing scissors and objects that could potentially lead to incidents of choking or asphyxiation.
DVD and Audio CD
Lastly, you may want to think about making a DVD or an audio CD for your loved one. For instance, you could use a video camera to record your children reading aloud or playing baseball. That way, your loved one could watch or listen to it at the home. Engaging in such activities may help them to feel connected to you or cause them to remember a moment from their past.
One word of advice though. Before you put the DVD or CD together, make sure that the nursing home has the audio visual equipment needed for your loved one to enjoy it. Not all of them do. If your loved one’s nursing home does not have the necessary equipment on hand, consider talking to the facility’s social services and activities department staff. Perhaps they can find a way to obtain it for your loved one on a temporary basis.
Source: Personal Experience
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