Understanding the Importance of Structured Activity for Those in Memory Care

May 30, 2018

EC Memory Loss.jpgWhen choosing a memory care community for your loved one, you’ll want to ask questions about how people spend their time, how activities are structured, the use of television and more. The Emerald Crest by Augustana Care team understands the importance of structured and individually tailored activities for their residents and has come up with five questions and responses to help you know our priorities and recommendations.

Does the community have a licensed occupational therapist available to develop individually designed activities?

Occupational therapists are specifically trained to customize activities by grading them up or down for each level of memory care needed. Occupational therapists also collaborate with and teach caregivers how to facilitate those activities.

Does the community’s environment promote active participation in daily activities?

Memory care communities with open common spaces and minimum barriers promote participation in activities that help people maintain their abilities longer. Environments with multiple community rooms, hallways, levels, and other distractions increase isolation and confusion, resulting in a decline in functioning.

Are activities integrated for residents at all stages? How are appropriate activities determined for each stage?

All residents at any stage of Alzheimer’s or other cognitive conditions can benefit from activities. However, it is important to have activities that match people’s capabilities to decrease agitation for those who need memory care.

For example, those in early to middle stages of dementia-related conditions are introduced to goal-oriented, multi-step activities. In later stages, individuals are introduced to activities based on repetitive motion (such as folding towels) that integrate elements based on the senses (such as soft music or objects that are pleasant to touch).

Are residents guided in a structured day or are they expected to follow their own schedule/calendar? Are activities lead by staff from start to finish?

Individuals with cognitive impairments lose the ability to initiate, sequence, and complete activities from start to finish without guidance from caregivers. Isolation and other common behaviors (such as wandering, rummaging, hoarding or aggressive behavior) can result when an individual with dementia is expected to initiate and follow his or her own schedules. At Emerald Crest, staff members guide activities from beginning to end.

How does the community incorporate television?

Although many of us watch television frequently, the content (such as soap operas, news and violent images) can cause increased anxiety because those with dementia cannot differentiate between reality and fiction. Limiting television to designated times and viewing content that is familiar and simple to follow (including old-fashioned variety shows, relaxing videos or familiar sports) promotes less agitation. 

To learn more about occupational therapy and activities at Emerald Crest by Augustana Care, visit www.emeraldcrest.org or call 952-908-2215.

Jenny LaVoi is an occupational therapist who provides direct care to residents at Emerald Crest by Augustana Care. Jenny works as an occupational therapist at the Shakopee community and is the director of cognitive care. As people with dementia-related conditions are often overlooked, being able to make a difference in their lives and how the community perceives them continues to drive her work.

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I enrolled my wife in Emerald Crest in 2009 and it was one of the best moves I have ever made…they have made my goal of keeping her in a safe, comfortable and pleasing environment much easier

— Robert, husband of resident