“Help! I need some fresh ideas. We’re home all day because of COVID, and I’m looking for more creative ways to engage the person I’m caring for.” Good news – the Hummingbird Project’s Therapeutic Activity Program can help!
The Hummingbird Project is unique. They design customized activity sessions for older adults and people living with Alzheimer’s and dementia. An Activity Specialist connects with each client one-on-one, and focuses on rekindling the interests and passions that bring value and purpose to each person.
Senior Care Solutions reached out to Tiffany Paige Ramirez, Hummingbird Project Manager of the Hummingbird Project’s Sacramento team, to learn how they are adapting their program during this pandemic and to find out how caregivers can provide enriching experiences with their loved ones at home.
How the Hummingbird Project Is Adapting During These Times
Before the pandemic, everything was being done in person. Now, services are brought to clients by mailing customized activity kits and virtual activity sessions through Zoom and FaceTime. The goal is to connect with each person’s heart and create experiences that are going to give them a reason to get out of bed in the morning. Tiffany explains that purpose, joy, and meaning are different for everyone, so that’s why their activity sessions are personalized – it’s not one-size-fits-all.
The Importance of Activity – Especially for Those Living with Dementia:
For those living with Alzheimer’s and dementia, some individuals can feel a little lost in trying to make their way through the day. With an activity session based on those things that are precious to them, their Activity Specialist can help them land and remember who they are and what matters most. Studies show that the more those areas of someone’s life can stay activated, the greater the possibilities are that they will be engaged in taking care of themselves and remain independent. Staying connected to valuable pieces of who we are creates holistic wellness that makes life more enjoyable and purposeful.
Signs the Person You’re Caring for Needs More Stimulation:
For example, watching television non-stop might be a safe way for Dad to “check-out” – even though he’s probably wanting to do more. How can we engage him with something more meaningful? It might just be turning the channel to watch a more intellectually stimulating topic and having a conversation about it.
Simple Ideas and Activities a Caregiver Can Try with a Loved One:
Tiffany shared this helpful resource provided by the Hummingbird Project, Activity Ideas During COVID-19 (Coronavirus) [https://documentcloud.adobe.com/link/review?uri=urn:aaid:scds:US:9946abc3-6cd2-4478-828a-1d5e3c0a1db5#pageNum=1],which outlines additional ways to stay connected. Here are some highlights:
Online Live Cameras – stay engaged in lifelong learning, exploring things like NASA.
Live Nature Cameras – stay connected to scenery and wildlife.
Travel Videos – go to a new land and gain an inspiring sense of culture.
Music Concerts – musicians sharing their gift of music by playing in-home and studio concerts.
Gratitude Lists – this can be done over the phone with a loved one, or by leaving a piece of paper on the kitchen table and every time someone passes by, add something they’re grateful for.
Story Writing – start with a simple prompt: “Let’s write a story about the funny little brown squirrel we saw sitting on the fence this morning.” You can start with anything and that will stir up imagination, creativity, and social connection.
Playing Music – sing out loud and encourage spontaneous dance parties in the living room!
Cooking and Baking – try a new recipe, or call a friend and ask what their favorite recipe is. Not only will you get that social interaction during the phone call, you’ll also get this new sensory-stimulating experience.
Do things that make you smile!
Important Things We Can Do to Support Creative, Spiritual, Emotional and Physical Wellbeing:
Creative quality of life is about artistic and personal expression. When you doodle or try your hand at painting, you are literally making a mark in the world, no matter what it looks like! You can always try something new – coloring in a mandala adult coloring book is a wonderful exploration of color and geometric patterns. And if somebody has never been an artist before, observing art can stir imagination, emotions and even memory recollection.
Spiritual and emotional quality of life are crucial. Seek whatever it is that brings that deeper sense of meaning and purpose, whether it’s being connected to a place of worship or specific rituals like prayer and meditation. Spending time with beloved pets, being in nature, and doing things that stir the spirit are all spiritually and emotionally nurturing. There’s a number of daily devotionals, prayers and sermons online, as well as books, reading poetry, gardening, and gratitude lists – ways to surround yourself with hope and love and keep a positive focus during these times. It’s also extremely valuable to stay connected to individuals who are going to encourage and uplift us on a regular basis.
The benefits of quality life are extremely vast, and sometimes people forget that it includes all forms of sensory stimulation – anything we see, smell, hear, taste, touch. Certainly, exercise is physical, but even a decadent bubble bath can be a restorative physical experience. Physical activities also enhance mental health, so people can stay more intentionally connected to intellectual and emotional areas of their lives – they all intertwine.
Ultimately, the Hummingbird Project can bring out life, joy and creativity in the person you’re caring for, while giving you a much-needed break from feeling you have to do it all. It’s magical to see that spark in your loved one!
Watch our full video, Creating Meaningful Moments where Christine Grmolyes, Geriatric Care Manager, interviews Tiffany Paige Ramirez, Project Manager with the Hummingbird Project, Sacramento, about ways to stay engaged during this pandemic.
Joyful Moments are the Hummingbird Project’s therapeutic activity cards that offer beautiful, fun, and inspiring ways to engage with your loved one. For more information, visit: https://hummingbirdproject.net/joyfulmoments/
We are all adapting as we go through Summer 2020 sheltering-in-place. Senior Care Solutions continues to work remotely to serve you! We invite you to get in touch with us in the following ways:
Phone: (916) 965-5565 | After Hours or on Weekends:(916) 821-2273
Complete an online Inquiry Form here.
Video interview content adapted and written by Taryn Benson, MHA.