We often think to put Easter baskets together for children. It can be exciting to hunt for eggs or to find a basket full of sweets. Children sift through the contents, sorting out favorite candies and toys. If you are lucky, they will clean up the plastic grass afterwards.
We can similarly engage older adults living with dementia, of any religious affiliation. As dementia progresses, certain senses are heightened. One of these is touch. During the “Amber” stage, those living with dementia have a tendency to touch surfaces. As eyesight and gait (walking ability) worsen, touching surfaces help orient the person.
Touch can also be reassuring. Holding their hand or feeling different textures can be a way to communicate as their traditional conversational skills worsen.
Consider putting together an activity box, or Easter basket, if applicable. Remember, this should be a fun activity so do not worry if the end result is not as imagined. You might even want to consider some music in the background.
The search can be limited to your own home. Find objects of varying sizes, textures, densities, and colors. Once you gather these all, ensure that none have sharp edges and are large enough not to be swallowed. Layer them into a basket or box.
Bring the basket or box to your loved one. Get them started by finding the first or second object.
Simple activities such as these add meaning to the lives of older adults living with dementia. They may remind them of Easter as a child, or simply serve as a task to make them feel loved and needed. Never underestimate how feeling loved and needed can improve their quality of life.
Some of the ideas behind the activity box were found from Crossroads Hospice. The suggestions about tactile simulation and the Amber stage of dementia can be learned about here.