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NancyZM last won the day on January 20 2016

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  1. MEPAP 2 - Final Practicum – Professional Development (Article) Sensory Stimulation ~ Wake Up those Senses! By Nancy Zunino McGready Our five senses – sight, hearing, smell, taste, and hearing – oh, how we take them for granted! It is almost impossible for me to imagine life without these five “basic†gifts. But, as we grow older and as we may have already witnessed in the elderly population we serve, something as simple and as taken-for-granted as the five senses takes on a whole other meaning when they are lost. As Activity Professionals, we strive to reach all the residents in our care but, unfortunately, with the ravages of illness both of mind and body, many of our residents are seemingly beyond our reach. These residents are often the most heart-breaking images – bedbound, severely cognitively impaired, incapable of meaningful verbal communication, . . . How can we reach them? It may be as simple as one, more or all of those “basic†gifts of the human senses. To cover all five senses would be beyond the scope of this article, so for our purposes within these confines, we are going to consider the sense of smell as a way to “awaken†our most severely impaired residents and to “take†them to different locales and to different times and memories seemingly locked away within themselves. (Note: Very often one sensory stimulation process easily involves the other senses with little effort required.) As for the process of using scent as a means of awakening our residents, it is important to know that smells are most closely associated with memories and helping people recall memories. Smell can lead people back to their happy childhoods where they helped Mom bake snickerdoodles with cinnamon sugar or where they played in fields of flowers or freshly mowed grass. Scents can also transport people to locations they have never been – scents of coconut, mango, and citrus can have people relaxing on a beach in Maui or have people traipsing off to Paris with the scent of French perfume and buttery croissants. There are many pre-made sensory stimulation products available for purchase (for example, “Scents Sort Match-Up Kit†by Roylco), but olfactory stimulation can easily be homemade – literally! Fresh baked bread, popcorn, cookies, etc. – can all be used as sensory stimulation items depending on your theme (and if your resident is still able to enjoy a regular diet, their taste buds will get a treat also!) Creating your own sensory stimulation kit takes little more than some small disposable cups, scissors, rubber bands, wax paper, and a variety of odiferous items – pleasantly odiferous preferably! For example let’s use one of my favorite scents – cinnamon. Simply dump some cinnamon into a cup, cut an appropriate size piece of wax paper to cover the cup, rubber band the wax paper so that it is covering the cup, cut some small holes in the wax paper with the scissors to allow the scent to come out, and . . . Voila! A cinnamon sensory stimulation tool! If you would like, you can construct an entire sensory stimulation program around one theme – such as baking. Aromas such as chocolate, vanilla extract, cinnamon, orange, cloves, etc. can be used to elicit memories of spending time in Grandma’s kitchen baking for a family get-together. While providing these scents for the resident, you can read reminiscent stories, make up tales about baking in the “good old daysâ€, or, if your residents is capable of expressing themselves verbally, ask them what or whom these smells remind them of. Share your own experiences with scents to encourage your resident to join in the reminiscing. If your resident is non-verbal, be alert to facial expressions, eye contact, smiles or frowns, etc. to oriented your program in a positive direction for the resident. For more cognitively alert residents, you can make this sensory stimulation into a game (as the “Scents Sort Match-Up Kit†does). See if the resident can guess the scent or, if capable, have the resident match the scent with a picture of the scent-producing item. Have the experience encompass a variety of interactions for the resident – social, cognitive, emotional, etc. Sensory stimulation may seem like a simplistic way of providing residents with activity programming, but when pursued with a plan and a goal of reaching our residents and providing them with a gateway to beloved memories, to new places, or to reconnect with a loved one long passed – it is simply a gift!
  2. Thanks to everyone who replied - you have wonderful ideas and I truly appreciate the time you all took out of your own busy days to help me! Thanks again! Nan
  3. Hello Everyone, I work in a nursing home where the population is predominantly women and offering programming for the men - or should I say programming for the men that they will attend and participate in - has been challenging. They enjoy poker night but most other groups we gear towards the men are not as well received. Does anyone have some suggestions for "fool-proof" men's groups? Thanks for you input, Nan
  4. Hi Linda and Ryan, My name is Nancy and I'm also new! I'm working on my MEPAP1 coursework and trying to get through my practicum! Nice to "meet" both of you - hope to email you both in the future and maybe learn a lot of new activities to share with my residents. I tend to get into a rut. While reading through some of the other forums, there's been a lot of mention of activities carts - we've had one at the facility in which I work but nothing too exciting - any suggestions on what to have on the cart and how to decorate it? Do you do a different cart for a different theme? Maybe I'm over-thinking this! Thanks for any suggestions!
  5. If possible, maybe you could invite other residents into the bedridden or paralyzed resident's room (with his/her permission, of course) for a sing-a-long, trivia group, balloon or ball toss (depending on level of paralysis), book club, etc.
  6. Hello Everyone! My name is Nancy and I'm currently a student in the MEPAP1 course. I work in a nursing home in PA and I enjoy my job very much. I am learning a LOT from the MEPAP course and I just hope I'll be a good activities' director when I take over the position although I know I'll miss my unit very much. I'm definitely always looking for new activities to engage our residents and I'm looking forward to checking this site out to find some new ideas. Just a brief look through this site has shown me how much information there is to access and utilize for my residents - thanks to everyone for your posts. Nancy
  7. Hi Jennifer, We have the same problem at our facility although we do have many great aides who will help out of their concern for the residents and their desire to help them in all ways that they can. What are the "activity bucks" you mentioned? I've never heard of these and I don't know anything about them. There are often times when it seems that nursing and activities are at odds and I hope things get better for you. One thing I hope to be able to do once a become director is to be able to sit down with with the DON (who is a lovely lady) and have the "conversation" about how to open the lines of communication between our departments without it becoming a competition. One idea I have been thinking over - and it may not be the best or even "do"able - it to discuss with the DON about the viability of scheduling more aides on the days of large wholehouse activities so more residents can attend programs, especially holiday parties and special events. Not sure if this helps, but it's an idea. Please post the information about "activity bucks" when you have a moment. Thanks, Nancy
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