Dementia Education Program Newsletter

Chrissy MacDonald

  1. Chrissy MacDonald Why did you choose a career as an occupational therapist? Was there a particular event, person, or reason behind your choice? 
    I graduated with an undergraduate degree in Kinesiology and decided to take some time off school to work as a kinesiologist. I knew I loved the rehab side of things, but during this time I learned how rewarding it was to help people achieve their fitness goals, which ultimately allowed them to re-engage with their meaningful activities that were previously lost or no longer performed at a level they desired – something that I knew I wanted to do for my career.
  2. This booklet lists over 40 activities categorized under 6 sections. What section(s) of the dementia activity booklet did you work on, and why is this category of activity important? 
    We brainstormed ideas for each category together, but I put together the “Brain Games” section and assisted with the “Household Activities” section. With dementia, it is important to exercise all parts of your body, including your brain. It is important to keep challenging mental functions to keep them active and to help slow progression of the dementia diagnosis. The “Household Activities” section is also important as it allows your loved one to re-engage in activities they once routinely did, which can add some familiarity or routine back into their lives.
  3. In the booklet, you talk about the importance of tailoring the activities to your loved one by adjusting the level of difficulty according to the social, physical and cognitive ability of the participant in order to help promote your loved one’s independence and decision-making. Why is this important, and what advice can you share to make this time together meaningful?  It is so important to tailor the difficulty of the activities to match your loved ones skill and interest level because it will help keep them engaged in the activity at hand. Some people like to be challenged while others do not. By tailoring the difficulty, you can help your loved one find success in the activity at hand which can enhance the enjoyment and the benefits received. Try to make this time more meaningful by choosing activities your loved one used to participate in frequently, or activities you would participant in together. If there are grandchildren in the picture, try to choose activities that they can engage in as well. Share stores of time spent together and keep a journal of these new memories you are creating together to share with them at a later date.
  4. Is there a particular activity in this booklet that you, personally, enjoy doing and why? 
    Personally, I love doing jigsaw puzzles. Growing up, my family would purchase a new puzzle every year at Christmas time and we would all sit around the table in the days leading up to Christmas finishing it. It became a tradition in our family and allowed us to take some time away from our busy lives and spend some quality time together as a family. To this day, we still purchase jigsaw puzzles around Christmas time but now that were adults and moved out of the house, we stay connected through sharing pictures of the finished products with each other and passing on the puzzles for each other to finish.
  5. What did you most enjoy about working on this project?
    I think what I enjoyed the most out of this project was brainstorming the different activities for each category and applying the knowledge we gained through our schooling to determine how to grade each activity to adhere to different strengths.
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