Complementary to having an Event Book, is to create a routine and activities that will be the focus of attention for the person with dementia in this new situation. When truly engaged in meaningful activity, it is not possible to also be engaged in behaviours such as repeated questions or emotional responses. For example, it would be helpful for the carer if the person with dementia assists with duties around the house. Again, the person with dementia’s input is essential to ensure what they like to be involved with. Some examples are assisting with cooking, baking, setting the table, cleaning, drying dishes. It is essential to break tasks down in smaller steps, to demonstrate the task and practice together – there are principles of Original Montessori for Dementia (Joltin et al., 2012). If stories are printed in large font, the person with dementia might read to others during domestic activities. In a dementia care residence in Oregon, U.S.A., residents began planting individual plants. Every resident chooses what they want to plant. They plant tomato plants, herbs and lettuce in large pails (socially distanced). On a regular basis, staff will put the pails on carts and visit residents in their room so they can monitor the growth of their plants.
Like for everyone, it is important to stay in contact with other people. As keeping physical distance may be difficult, this may involve the use of video conferencing. If keeping a conversation going is difficult, these are options for other things to do: make music or sing together, providing written lyrics when needed; asking the person with dementia to read stories to young children; practice religious rituals, and; play online games together. Offline, the person with dementia can stay connected to the community by calling other older adults who are isolated to check up on them; writing postcards, or; making gifts or cloth masks to send out. We know of a memory care centre where residents are given components of masks and sew them together, then put them outside their rooms for collection. The masks are sanitized and distributed to health care workers. Finally, staying active is important. Again digital means can be supportive, for example to use recorded sessions of (chair) exercise, yoga and meditation (please see supplementary powerpoint with a number of mindfulness practices made especially for people with dementia and family carers). Remember, everybody can help: a head of the kitchen of a facility that we work with took the time to explain the facetime app to a resident so that he could connect with his family through his phone.
Dr. Camp is the developer of Original Montessori for Dementia.