It is not uncommon for seniors living in assisted-living facilities to lack mental stimulation and social contact.
This is especially true for people who are loners by nature or those who have lived on their own for a long period of time. They may choose to stay in their rooms all day and decline to participate in programmed activities.
Recreation Therapists often use one-on-one visits to respond to the needs of those who avoid social settings. There are many enjoyable games and activities that can keep minds and bodies strong and active.
One-on-one visits provide caregivers with the opportunity to develop rapport and trust with individuals, which is so important in residential care settings.
Prepare yourself mentally beforehand by spending a few minutes thinking about the person; try to put yourself in their shoes. Take a look at their 'Profile' form and see if there are hobbies or interests you can talk about.
Schedule the visit for early in the morning when residents are more alert. Alternatively, visit mid afternoon after lunch and rest time. Make them feel special by sending a note: "Hi Linda, if it suits you, I will be coming by tomorrow for a chat and a cup of tea!"
On arrival, look them in the eyes and give them a hug. Set the right tone with a warm greeting and then sit down in front of the resident at eye level.
If you need to, bring a 'helping hand' such as a flower, some seasonal fruit, some interesting media headlines, or a home baked biscuit. Props can trigger reminiscing and help start a conversation.
Turn off the TV and radio and close the door if loud noises are coming through.
Pay attention to the resident's body language as well as your own. If you are wringing your hands or looking at the clock, it sends a message that you don't want to be there. On the other hand if they are nodding off to sleep or avoiding eye contact, make an excuse and come back when the resident is more receptive.
If your meetings are always in the bedroom, try a change of scenery. A veranda or garden setting are good alternatives.
Read aloud something funny such as a poem or a joke.
Play simple puzzles or board games together.
Related: Games for Seniors
Bring along some trivia quizzes or word games.
Look through a family photo album together or make a scrapbook album together.
Related: Recycled Magazine Scrapbooks
Ask them to tell you a story about their life. Suggest school life, childhood friends, sports, siblings, their mother's cooking, and their pets.
Related: Reminiscing Activities for Seniors
Find out what sorts of things were of interest to them in the past; a fisherman may enjoy looking at pictures of fish and a quilter may enjoy looking at quilt magazines.
If the resident comes from another country, get hold of a few quizzes or interesting facts about the country to talk about.Multicultural Activities
Music, talk-back, talking books, science programs, ethnic programs.
Take a walk in the garden and reminisce about their previous life at home. Was he/she a keen gardener?
Related: Outdoor Activities
Offer a gentle shoulder or hand massage.
Related: Hand Massage & Nail Care
Be genuine, your attitude will make or break a visit. If you are not there in body and soul they will sense it and become indifferent.
If the resident has advanced dementia, be prepared to repeat conversations as needed; look at pictures in the room and ask questions, admire clothes and hair.
We'd love to hear your feedback!
What activities and strategies have you found to work well in one-on-one settings?