There are two activities Iâ€™d like to share, bowling and baking cookies. Besides bingo these two activities have been the most popular in my facility for the past month.
When we bowl, I really try to create the setting and environment they had when they were younger or even as adults. Try and make it as light-hearted as possible, but give them credit for their score. I use the activity iPod and play music like Elvis Presley or The Four Tops. As I reset the pins or line the next person up for their bowl I dance, it lightens the mood and the residents love it (not that Iâ€™m any good). Try and find bowling pins as close to the size that they are at bowling alleys, it really makes a difference because otherwise it can feel like a kiddy game. We use a two-pound bowling ball that is the size of a regular bowling ball; it even has the slots for fingers. The residents sit in a horse shoe shape with there being open space behind the pins. Each resident gets two bowls a turn and depending on strength and ability they sit closer or further from the pins. I ask them where they are comfortable to bowl from and they are happy to tell me. This can gather quite the crowd and while not everyone wants to play, I love of residents love to just watch and cheer on their neighbors. This can be quite a social activity in addition to helping them with strength. One doesnâ€™t have to go for bowling, but they can go to listen to music, socialize, or just sit quietly while being entertained.
Baking cookies has always been a crowd favorite, even for staff members. It fills the facility with a delicious cookie smell for the entire day. I gather residents to the dining room or conference room, depending on the group size. We use an Otis Spunkmeyer mini oven to bake the cookies, which is great because I can carry it to any room and plug it into a normal outlet. Our Dietary Manager supplies the cookie dough which is already made and frozen. The oven comes with three cookie sheets already and I get parchment paper from the kitchen. While we arenâ€™t making the cookie dough we are decorating it. I buy all kinds of things to stick into the defrosted cookie dough, like M&Mâ€™s, Reeseâ€™s pieces, butterscotch chips, and chocolate chips. To start I give them all gloves, some need help putting them on some donâ€™t, help the ones that need it. I put a bowl of all the toppings between every two people so that they can share and Iâ€™m not wasting too many bowls. For the first round I give each resident six cookies to decorate. Some like to make smiley faces or put their initials on them, others like to see how far in they can push the candy. The mini oven can cook thirty-six cookies at a time and we usually end up making around ninety because everyone wants to make as much as possible. Afterwards, I get them their beverages of choice (milk, water, cranberry juice, or ice tea) and everyone gets to eat one cookie. With the left over cookies I go around the facility and pass them out to residents and staff. This again is another social activity, but itâ€™s a trip down memory lane. The smells from the cookie baking sparks so many memories for residents that it starts a conversation on its own.