With the holiday season approaching, family caregivers and care home staff can turn typical days into fun, seasonal experiences for those living with dementia. Throughout the month of November, try these engaging, Thanksgiving-related activities.
Bake a Family Recipe
Pecan pie? Green bean casserole? Cheesy potatoes? Find out their signature holiday dish or a favorite Thanksgiving comfort food and try to recreate it. Even if you are doing most of the work, cooking can provide a sense of independence, as well as emotional and cognitive benefits.
Create an Autumn Word Search
Stimulating the brain with a game is a great way to boost self-esteem and stay mentally active. To create a word search puzzle, you will just need a key list of Autumn or holiday-themed words (ex: “maple”, “pumpkin”, or “parade”) and some pen and paper. You can find word search generators online as well. Just be sure to use larger print and fewer words than you would for a regular word search. Together, look for the words in the key list inside the jumble of letters. Whenever your loved finds one of the words, circle it and offer some praise!
Go for a Nature Walk
Autumn is a gorgeous season and a favorite for many! Make sure your loved one gets to see the trees changing color and feel the fresh, crisp air in their lungs. Go for a walk around a pond or park. Point out the nature and wildlife you see. For an especially lovely outing, bring along some bread to feed birds or ducks and a thermos of tea or cider for yourselves.
Decorate a ‘Gratitude Tree’
Help residents reflect on who or what they are thankful for. To do this, start creating a ‘Gratitude Tree’ using an indoor tree/plant. Everyone can write notes detailing the things they are thankful for and hang them on the tree (alternatively, you could create a tree out of paper to hang on a wall and residents could write on paper leaves that decorate the branches). This activity can be great for triggering memories, so be sure to reminisce about past Thanksgiving experiences.
Forget the knives and carving tools! Pumpkins can be painted and decorated with ribbons, feathers, artificial flowers, beads, etc. You can make it a contest and have prizes. The pumpkins can decorate a bedroom, become dining table centerpieces or get displayed as a mock pumpkin patch.