Engagement During Isolation

by Lisa Kaufman

Even if I have been a member of the Aging Life Care Association for nearly 20 years, I have always thought of myself as the “red-headed stepchild”  (yes, go ahead and laugh if you know me…) of ALCA. And now I see an opportunity for my “particular set of skills” to be of use to our organization.  You see, I am a certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist, in addition to my CMC.

I have been mulling over some suggestions and recommendations for my employees and colleagues to help increase engagement and sensory stimulation during this delicate time of social distancing even within the Senior Living Communities. This is of great concern to me, especially for our clients with cognitive impairments and/or sensory impairments. So here are some ideas I would love to share with you.

Caveat: do not recommend items that could be toxic or a choking hazard.

These ideas could be used for independent sensory stimulation, or use with a caregiver to help engage. They will increase cognitive and sensory stimulation, and reduce stress. Please be cognizant if the client becomes overstimulated, or needs a break that you be observant and aware.

Be a source of good ideas for your Senior Communities by speaking with the Executive Director about implementing some building-wide ideas. Be the invaluable resource for your clients’ families by sharing general ideas and you be their procurement:

For a PA system within buildings:

  • Play music at certain times of day, with themes to help reorient. I.e.: upbeat Swing Band in the morning or Calming Classical in the later evenings.
  • Have someone read a chapter a day from a classic novel
  • Have someone read Bible, Torah, Quran passages – or something non-denominational and uplifting

For Closed Circuit TV within buildings:

  • Sittercise
  • Videos of travel or animals
  • Travel or the free access to the Arts that are available free or charge online at this time

For individuals at home or in Communities:

  • People miss the calming touch of their pets – order stuffed animals to stroke and touch ( Perfect Petzzz – $38.99)
  • Objects for “twiddling” or “fidgeting”
  • Aroma therapy, again use under supervision.
  • Things that make sounds, are visually stimulating or tactilely stimulating

Here is one of my favorite resources of all time S&S Worldwide www.ssww.com

Here is the link for the Sensory Stimulation section with great Auditory, Sensory Balls, Tactile, and Visual products and ideas.

https://www.ssww.com/senior-activities/sensory-stimulation/

Be creative and share ideas. We are better Together.

Lisa Kaufman, MS, CMC, CTRS, C-EOLD is a certified Aging Life Care Manager™, and most recently, a certified End of Life Doula. She has owned and operated SeniorCare Options since 2001, and she is an active member of the Aging Life Care Association™, and is one of only a handful of certified care managers in Georgia. She is a Past-President of the ALCA™ South Eastern Chapter and is the only Fellow / Certified member of ALCA™ in Georgia.

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