Every human wants to feel connected to the people around them and it’s no different for
someone living with dementia. Connections can become difficult to make as the person living
with dementia changes and their disease progresses. Even brief moments of connection can
play a significant role in how the rest of the day goes for both the person living with dementia
and their care partner.
I recently delivered our August Connectivities box to a community in our area. The engagement coordinator there is great and is really enthusiastic about implementing Connectivities. She explained to me that her group activities usually last about 15-20 minutes until she loses the attention of the group and needs to shift gears to something else. This is a pretty common time span for activities to last in a group setting. It can be hard to engage all of the different levels, interests and personalities for a significant amount of time.
I sat down to demonstrate a Connectivities game that is one of our welcome activities. It is a
simple seasons matching game that can be done in several different ways. The group that I was working with that day had about 8 people. Guess how long we spent doing the activity? An
HOUR!!! We had so much fun. The engagement coordinator couldn’t believe it! Here is how we
I scattered the 4 season cards (winter, spring, summer, fall) around the table. This first step
started to peak the resident’s interest, including one resident who declined to join the group.
Next, I chose a picture card of a beach scene, I showed this around the table and asked what
season the picture went with? The residents took their time, studied the picture and agreed
that the beach scene should go under the summer category. Since I had everyone’s attention, I
then asked if anyone had ever been on a beach vacation? I waited patiently and made sure to
give the residents time to think about the question. There were lots of fun stories shared of
time spent in California, a beach vacation in New Jersey, and trips to Mexico. At this point the
resident who refused to join the group in the beginning, pulled her chair up to the table and
joined in. The next card I showed the group was of pumpkins in a bed of leaves. Again, it was
decided the card belonged under the Fall category. This time I asked what smells remind them
of fall? Cinnamon, nutmeg, and baking with pumpkin. I asked if there were any sounds that
remind them of Fall? Leaves crunching, leaves hitting the ground and the raking of leaves. We
continued through all the various picture cards sorting them by season and sharing stories,
reliving memories, connecting with each other. Even some staff members had joined in and
Many different time frames for activities can be useful! From five minutes to an hour, each
type of engagement and connection can have purpose. A 5 to15 minute activity is a great way
to provide a sense of security, calm anxieties, and to help with challenging or aggressive
behaviors. We often find that engagement interventions are all that’s needed to re-set
someone’s mood and get them back into their normal routine. Larger groups offer a chance to
get everyone involved in a longer engagement activity, including residents who wouldn’t
normally join in. Group activities provide a sense of community and connection and can be
great fun! A simple activity can be extended by playing in teams, having partners, getting staff
and the care team involved, asking additional questions, sharing your thoughts with the group,
and learning new things about the individuals participating. Larger and longer lasting activities
offer the opportunity to create new connections, to develop new interests, and provide an
increase in self-esteem and sense of accomplishment.
Connectivities is great because the actual activities are all right there for you. Everything you
need and proven to work with people living with all stages of dementia. You are also provided
with the tools to make it a 15 minute or 60 minute activity, based on your needs and your
participant’s needs that day. Creating authentic connections delivered right to your door could
not be easier with Connectivities.