Although there is no cure for most types of dementia, many effective therapies can greatly improve the quality of life for people living with dementia. The dementia therapies we use at The Bristal are cases in point. Here are a few that are particularly effective:
Our movement programs are not your typical trip to the gym. The objective is to incorporate movement into recreational group activities, such as dancing, bowling, volleyball or Wii games. We tailor these activities to the specific needs of participants, each of whom is carefully evaluated by physical and occupational therapists. As a result, participants benefit from appropriate levels of exercise and balance training through fun activities.
Other kinds of activities are related to the arts. Our “Beamz” music program is one of the most popular. Participants in the program make music by breaking light beams of different colors, each of which produces a different sound. It’s enjoyable, but it also helps with range of motion and use of technology.
With the assistance of music therapists, we also organize karaoke events, drum circles, concerts and sing-alongs. Visual arts therapies include coloring and crafts programs, on-site art shows, and specially designed trips to galleries such as the Museum of Modern Art.
We also have drama programs, including performances for audiences.
Our movement and arts programs are only some of the dementia therapies we use. We also incorporate:
• Continuing education and enrichment through The Bristal Better U™ partnership with Hofstra University Continuing Education and PACE University
• Pet therapy, including on-site visits from therapy dogs and off-site “HorseAbility” sessions
• Bird watching
• “Meditation and Minds” sessions, which involve guided imagery, meditation and music. Since people living with dementia problem-solve all day long, these sessions are often times a welcome respite for them.
• Reading & poetry programs
• Community connections through The Bristal Helping Hands program. Some of the activities our residents have participated in are making peanut butter & jelly sandwiches to donate to a local food pantry, baking dog biscuits for a local dog or pet shelter, crocheting hats for neo-natal units, and performing off-site as a chorus. These are important activities because they give residents a sense of purpose.
• Reminiscing and creation of “memory boxes,” both of which are activities in which family members can participate.
Whatever activities we provide on a given day, we take care to keep in mind the abilities and preferences of individuals. For example, one resident might find a certain form of entertainment too loud and overwhelming. We can resolve this through parallel programming. In the case of the noise-averse resident, we might organize a quiet tea party in a bistro at the same time as other residents are enjoying the entertainment. As a result, we can remove barriers and ensure that every resident benefits from an engaging activity.
Life doesn’t stop with a diagnosis of dementia; these programs allow us to help residents at any stage of dementia enjoy purposeful and successful lives.