Dementia Education Program Newsletter
- Why did you choose a career as an occupational therapist? Was there a particular event, person, or reason behind your choice?
I was first drawn to occupational therapy when I participated in a 2-week project at the end of high school, which allowed me to shadow an OT for children. The clients the OT would see all had various needs, and so each of her sessions were very different, which allowed for her day-to-day work to always be new and exciting. As an OT can work with many different individuals, it allows for continuous everyday learning opportunities, which I find very appealing. I want a career which challenges me every day, allows me to use my creativity and requires me to work out of my comfort zone, and I found that OT would allow me to do all of these things, while also being very fulfilling.
- 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?
I worked on the “Creating & Crafting” section individually, and contributed one activity to the “Household Activities” section. As a group, we put in many hours adding information and editing each other’s sections to ensure that the activity booklet would flow well, and be as clear as possible for the general public. The creating and crafting section was an exciting opportunity for me to use my creative skills to come up with various activities that emphasize the use of our hands. The activities in this section are important because they allow individuals to work on their fine motor skills through the use of their hands, they stimulate creativity, and they promote cognitive and social well-being. They are also fun activities that allow you to have an end product, which can be very satisfying!
- 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?
When first doing research about the resources available for caregivers of individuals living with dementia, we found that this tailoring part was missing from a lot of resources. Tailoring activities to one’s abilities is an integral part of occupational therapy, so we thought it would be great to include this in each activity. This makes this booklet very OT-focused, as it really enables each person, regardless of their abilities, to participate in various activities. Providing ideas on how to adjust the activity allows the caregivers to focus more on actually doing the activity, and makes the step of figuring out how to do the activity more simple. It is important to realize that participating in an activity does not look the same for everyone. Whether you are fully involved in the activity, or you are just watching, the activities in this booklet provide an opportunity for the caregiver and their loved one to connect and to enjoy their time together.
- Is there a particular activity in this booklet that you, personally, enjoy doing and why?
I enjoy cooking and baking, so creating the cooking section with various recipes was really fun for me to do. It even made me realize how some things such as kneading dough or whisking ingredients together are indeed therapeutic for me, making me feel more relaxed and calm when doing it. Cooking can take place alone or with others, with a recipe or without one, with the use of tools or hands. It allows for a lot of flexibility and can be adapted easily to one’s needs and desires, making it very enjoyable for me, personally. Cooking allows me to connect with those around me, by creating something and then eating together, and also allows me to be creative with what I make!
- What did you most enjoy about working on this project?
Working on this project made me realize how one activity can be done in many different ways depending on one’s physical, social and cognitive abilities. It was exciting to find new ways of doing things, enabling more satisfying and successful participation from all individuals, regardless of their abilities. I also really enjoyed being able to work with other occupational therapy students, sharing ideas with one another and having fun throughout the process!