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?
My interest in becoming an occupational therapist derived from my life-long involvement in sports and health, but was reinforced through my undergraduate degree in Physical and Health Education at Queen’s University. One course in particular that truly sparked my interest was Physical Activity for Individuals with Disabilities that had a practicum, which gave me the opportunity to work with a variety of individuals with special needs. I volunteered with Kingston’s Revved Up program, which is an adapted exercise initiative that promotes physical activity for individuals with mobility impairments and developmental disabilities. There, I assisted clients with their individual gym workout programs and saw firsthand how adjustments and modifications can be made to deal with challenges that may interfere with a person’s ability to complete tasks. I appreciate how an occupational therapist uses a holistic approach to deal with problems that derive from various areas, such as environmental factors, physical/cognitive limitations and behavioural aspects. I am especially drawn to occupational therapy because it challenges the therapist to think critically and to be creative in solving problems that are uniquely client-based.
- 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?
My main section was “Let’s Get Active”. As mentioned, my undergraduate degree focused on physical activity for all abilities and I wanted to ensure that individuals with dementia were also experiencing the positive benefits associated with regular exercise. These benefits include a reduction in total mortality among older adults, increased bone health, decreased risk of falls and fractures, improved mood and memory, and better sleep.
- 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?
I believe that promoting independence and decision-making is crucial as it provides your loved-one with a sense of achievement and self-worth when they are able to make their own choices, and it is important for them to be involved in their own care and maintain a sense of purpose. Choosing activities that involve your loved one’s passions, aspects of their culture or other members of their family will help to make it more meaningful and significant.
- Is there a particular activity in this booklet that you, personally, enjoy doing and why?
I really enjoy the “Host a Movie Night” activity. I think it is a great way to get family members of all ages together and provides you with conversations to be had after the movie is done. Setting it up with fun treats/snacks that your loved-one enjoys and allowing them to choose the movie makes it all the more meaningful.
- What did you most enjoy about working on this project?
I loved being able to collaborate with others in the program and use our knowledge and creativity when designing the activities. I also enjoy the fact that this activities booklet is very practical, user-friendly and can help to bring joy into many people’s lives!