|me with a bear pillow made by the Sewing Group at work|
I didn't expect doing activities with people with dementia to be so much fun. Tiring, but fun. It's entirely different from being a nursing aide, when I had to get (or try to get) people to do certain necessary things, like eat.
No one has to do activities, and a lot choose not to. Those who join in are usually pretty happy to be there.
(Usually. Moods fluctuate, and one day a normally happy woman slammed her scissors down in anger.
So then we did something else.)
People are really into these bear-pillows we're making to give to kids. The fabric is printed with a bear, as you can see. The sewing group cuts them out, I sew the pieces together on the machine, and the sewers turn them right-side out and stuff them.
People like making them more than hot pads, which are a bit too abstract. The bears are evident at each step of the process, whereas the hot pads only come into being at the end. Still, people enjoy handling the fabrics.
Some people who don't want to or can't do any of those steps come sit with us and keep us company. The other day, The Sound of Music was playing in the other half of the room, and we all ended up singing a lot too.
II. On Display
I'm conflicted about taking photos at work.
For about a month, I stopped taking my camera into work. Until then, I actually hadn't realized that legally, for privacy, we're not supposed to take photos of people. I was misled by the fact that the business maintains a FB page, residents who live there sign photo releases, and the Activities Dept. (my boss & me) are supposed to take & posts photos.
The page is for families and, the for-profit company acknowledges (though not on the FB page), for marketing.
It's weird to me that they post photos of people with dementia who don't understand what FB is. Their families OK'd it, though, and it does provide a sense of connection, I admit, which is important.
I still don't know, though... I think a lot of the people I work with would not want to be seen in the condition they're in.
Recently, an aide suggested we put up a photo board in the activity room, and I think that's a great idea. Visitors and the residents themselves can see what's been going on, and if someone doesn't like a photo they're in, we can easily take it down. As it is now, they don't even see themselves on FB.
I've just started bringing my camera in again, for my own sake, so I can get a sense of completion.
People without short-term memory don't--can't--care about the completion of projects. I could take the bears apart every night and we could re-sew them the next day, and that'd be fine with them. (well... "fine" only because they wouldn't realize it).
At first I thought it was just the families who would benefit from seeing a finished hot pad or bear, and that I was planning such projects for their sake, but I've come to realize that I need to see some results too, or my efforts start to feel uncomfortably pointless.
So, for now, I'm recording what we're doing for my records, and just this week I gave my boss some FB photos that are complimentary of the residents, that show our work, and that I took with the residents' permission. Next week I'm going to take my laptop to show them their photos *on* FB and see what they say.