We often underestimate what a kind word, a touch, a smile, a sympathetic listening ear, or a compliment can do for mental health.
According to research, gentle physical touch is capable of regulating blood pressure and releasing endorphins (the pleasure hormones).
Words can also be life-sustaining and provide immense comfort in dementia care, but we often miss the opportunity to say them.
Engaging with Residents Outside Programmed Activities
During your working hours, you will see many clients outside of programmed activities; seize the opportunity and engage with them. It will only take a minute or two of your time and can transform someone’s state of mind and lift their spirits more than you can imagine.
Be disciplined and don’t stay longer than necessary; it’s showing that you care that counts.
Here are a few ideas for short activities ‘in-between’ programmed activities.
Greet the client by name and make eye contact
Try on a couple of hats in front of a mirror with a client
Tell a client she/he looks ‘Beautiful!’ today
Show a client vivid colours in a garment/magazine and talk about it
Hold hands and step outdoors for some fresh air
Pick flowers in the garden together
Help a client to try on a new shade of lipstick
Give a client an impromptu shoulder massage
Play a quick game of ball catch
Evoke memories: e.g. “Tell more about your grandmother’s farm!”
Tease: “I saw your boyfriend/girlfriend today!”
Tell a client you love her/him
Give spontaneous bear hugs
Try a new scented hand lotion on a client
If the background music is good, take a client for a dance
Blow bubbles together
Look at a landscape or animal calendar together
Ask for help: sorting books on a shelf, hanging clothes out to dry
Water plants together
Listen to the sound of a large shell
Wrap herbs/spices individually in fabric and ask a client to identify the smell
Comb, french braid or curl a client’s hair
Read a few funny limericks
Remind a client about fruit and vegetables in season
Sing a Nursery Rhyme together
As Randi G. Fine said:
“No other form of communication is as universally understood as touch. The compassionate touch of a hand or a reassuring hug can take away our fears, soothe our anxieties, and fill the emptiness of being lonely”.