I've worked in activities for over ten years, and I have found that there are some activities that you just have to have on the activities calendar! While these activities may be staples, they can easily lose their charm for both you and the residents when done over a long period of time.
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I’ve worked in activities for over ten years, and I have found that there are some activities that you just have to have on the activities calendar!

While these activities may be staples, they can easily lose their charm for both you and the residents when done over a long period of time. Here are a few ways to spice up the classic activities on your calendar!

Alternatives to Traditional Bingo

I know we all have mixed feelings about Bingo. But it is no doubt a staple in many activity programs. Here are a few ways to change it up from the traditional game of five in a row, across, or up and down.

Play B - N - O. An easy way to change up the game is to only play B - N - O. Which means there are 4 chances to win for 1 game. 1 winner for all the B’s, 1 winner for all the N’s, 1 winner for all the O’s, and then 1 winner for all 3!

Or Play the T, so to get Bingo the resident would have to get all across the top and down the middle.


Coffee Chats with a Family Theme

Coffee chats are a fun way to get a group of residents together to drink coffee and have open conversations about the latest news or current happenings around the care home. But have you found that conversations sometimes wane?

Invite family members to email fun photos from a recent day trip or write a note to surprise their loved one. We started sharing notes and photos during our coffee chat group each week, residents have really enjoyed talking about their family.

We made the family members aware that pictures and letters would be shared, and asked them to simply let us know if they wanted certain information to be shared only with their loved one.

It is good to keep in mind that residents are only a click away from family members who live far away so video chats are a great way to connect too! As Activities staff, we have a wonderful opportunity to coordinate schedules and assist residents in connecting with their loved ones in a video chat.

Starting a Coffee Club
8 Hot And Cold Drinks To Share In Good Company

Rise & Shine Exercise Group

Exercise is a popular activity that seems to attract everyone. Our facility has exercise on the calendar every morning at 10 a.m. and while the resident’s love it, there is only so much arm lifting and seat marching you can do in the week!

Instead, each day of the week we practice a different type of exercise.

Go Exploring with Armchair Travel

I love armchair travel, it is a great way to explore and learn about a new place with the residents without ever having to leave the unit. It is also a good, “on the whim” activity for residents interested in doing something in between scheduled activities.

With a tablet handy you can go anywhere in the world! So, have the resident’s pick the place:

  • Find a bit of fun trivia
  • Look at images of famous landmarks
  • Try to find it on Google Maps Street View
  • Listen to a famous song from the area
  • Look at art from an artist from the area
  • Do they speak another language? Learn how to say "Hi" and "bye" in that language.
  • Find a fun recipe to try at your next cooking group

Armchair Travel Destinations
Armchair Travel with Google Maps

Learn an Instrument Together

There are countless benefits to using music in activities, and there are countless ways to have a music group. Sing-alongs, inviting entertainers, or even a bit of dancing are all great ways to incorporate music into your programming.

But what about teaching the residents how to play an instrument? We invited a local high school orchestra teacher to come in once a month to teach the residents how to play. One of our residents picked it up well enough that they even played at the high school’s music concert!

It was a fun experience for everyone involved and a great way to keep our residents learning!

Related: How to Plan Music Activities for dementia care.

Changing up the way we offer activities can be a great way to be creative and innovative in our planning, and offers residents variety in their activity pursuits.

How have you adapted or changed a traditional activity? What are your staple activities that you must have on your calendar every month?

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Molly Wisniewski

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Comments   Post a Comment

Susan 26th Mar 2022 Activity Director
Hi Lora
Thank you for this information
It is most helpful
Lora 25th Mar 2022 Lifestyle Enhancement Coordinator
Dementia Australia has an app called "A Better Visit".
You download it onto your I-pad and take it with you when visiting or engaging with a person with Dementia.
Its really great especially for someone who is non verbal or who has limited communication. Its very easy to use. There is a fishing game and colouring and lots of interactive games.
Susan 4th Jan 2021 Activity Director
Hi Melissa
This sounds like a grieat activity
My go to activity was name that tune
Instead of playing music I would say the first word of a title and see if the residents could guess the song
If No one guessed I would say the next word and until someone named the song
And we would sing
Melissa 4th Jan 2021 Activity Aide
Happy New Year, all. I am currently the only activity person at our facility, so as I formulate our calendar I have to be very efficient in my planning! My go-to activity is balloon volleyball, which I do with an actual volleyball net that sets up and breaks down in only a couple of minutes. With covid, I now incorporate social distancing by putting chairs between the players’ wheelchairs. With lively music and lots of good natured trash talking, this is hugely popular; the chairs even help act as passive “players”! It’s a goodly amount of setting up but well worth it. Lately we even have physical therapy come in to play and guide some of their patients through a game. Happy 2021!
Susan 21st Apr 2020 Activity Director
Cindy 20th Apr 2020 Activity Coordinator
I presently work in the community setting and am in need of ideas to support those with dementia in their homes! I may have to resort to doing activities over the telephone> Anyone have any ideas?
Solange 27th Apr 2020 Diversional Therapist
Helping clients at home to stay connected is challenging, no doubt.

One useful thing to do is to show/teach them how to use Skype/FaceTime so they can call family and friends.

Another idea is to download apps with captions/subtitles for hearing deficit clients.

More ideas:
1) make a booklet of 7or 8 pages with trivia, quizzes, spot the differences, riddles, numbers games, name the animal/musical instruments and more. Post it to your client to do.
2) Find out what your client is interested in and recommend YouTube channels; painting, online forums, learning a language, watching children's’ dancing competitions, gentle chair exercises, caring for baby animals.
3) Call the client once a day to lend support.
4) Choose an easy facial mask pattern and make a parcel with enough fabric for the client to trace. Alternatively, you may send a parcel with traced masks for the client to cut for you.
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