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Activity Director From Oregon, United States

About Michelle: Hi all! I have been an activity director for a residential assisted living home for 2+ years. My heart goes out to the elders and I love spending time with them, especially during art class! I'm a firm believer that art heals the mind and body, and love to spend time creating.

1 Comment

Michelle 3rd Oct 2021 Activity Director


What works for one situation is I let her follow me everywhere and incorporate her in whatever I'm doing. "She's my friend at work while she's on vacation." She helps me with everything, and I have her do something I know she will and can do, while I am beside her doing something else that works in the moment. When she's tired, emotional, forgetful, easily bored and distracted during group activities, I try to direct her to spend more time in her room. On those days, I write large print notices of everything that would make her feel comfortable in staying in her room. I have large print signs all over her apt to remind her of everything, like the wrist band she should push to call for assistance or what time we would come get her for meals. For her it was, this is where you are and how you got here and what you are supposed to do. Mentioning her son's name and reminding her he found this place for her, and that he'll be here to pick her up on the weekend, or that, he just dropped her off from being home with him on the weekend. Reminding her of the things she likes and pointing out the books on her nightstand she likes reading or directing her to watch her football or packing her bag for next trip home. I also made a calendar system in her room where I post the weekly activities and meals, and a calendar I mark off every day and after each activity. Caregivers help me by marking off the hourly activities she has already attended for the day/week, so the resident can figure out what she has done for the day. The more questions I can figure out how to answer in a very accommodating not overwhelming way, the less questions she asks and more at ease she reports as.
When I implemented this system for her, she stayed in her apartment more and appeared very content to me on my frequent check-in's. She is less emotional and crying about not knowing where she is or wanting to go home. Her time in group activities is more productive and she seems to be in better spirits.
At first this was a lot to do for one person, but once I got the main system set up and going consistently, I started doing it for other residents and it's working more than not. It has helped ME so much in cutting down on the constant need to redirect, and knowing that the communication piece is in place and that the resident will be able to self-educate, self-contain and become more self-reliant during the times I or someone else cannot be with them (because the resident is unable to operate on what our business-operating needs are, so we have to operate when/how they need us). Because, as you said, we're mostly dealing with behaviors.
Something that helps with other's too, is, I have arranged activity space in the activity room for my residents that need individual activities within a group environment. I am able to work three different tables of activities, accommodating three or more different levels of residents needs this way, including their ability to come and go when they get restless, or as needed, while I'm conducting a bigger group activity. But I think this only works because I have the note/calendar systems set up in the residents' rooms. So they are constantly redirecting themselves, as needed, while I am making sure they are getting the activity they need.
Hope any of this is helpful.