Welcome to Week 1 of our Memory Care Activity Stations series! Each week we will showcase a couple of example stations we have pulled together based on potential community demographics. Our goal is to help make the process of creating these activity stations easier for communities, staff, and designers. This week we are highlighting stations mainly for women. I say ‘mainly’ because I have seen these heavily used by women. However, with a few modifications these can also be catered towards men.
The first we will be covering is a Nurturing Station. Although we set up like a small nursery, it is not always used exclusively this way. Some residents bypass the dolls and baby items and go straight for the plush animals or soft blankets and use as more of a sensory experience. I once created a station with a stuffed bunny, and a resident brought it over to a sofa and sat and pet it most of the afternoon. This station is best suited for a quiet area of the community where a resident can sit uninterrupted. A comfortable (senior appropriate) lounge chair or glider is recommended for the resident to sit in. Items we often use for this station include:
- Changing table (if space available)
- Bassinet (if space available)
- Baby clothing-onesies, pajamas
- Burb cloths
- Cloth and disposable diapers
- Children’s books-stories residents would be familiar with like fairy tales and classic books
- Blankets with different textures
- Books, magazines, or albums with pictures of babies
- Plush animals
- Baby bottles
- Life-like dolls
- Colorful items like teething rings or rattles
- CD player with instrumental lullaby CD’s
- Baskets or bins to keep items together
If you are limited on space, this station could just consist of a chair with an end table accompanied by a basket of some of the items featured above. If you are introducing the dolls, only do so if you have room for a bassinet or changing table where the doll can be discovered by residents (read more about doll therapy here). We steered our artwork in a more nursery direction, but you could also use images of children or babies as a cue. As I mentioned, this station is most heavily used by women, but some men do pick up the dolls, books, or plush animals as well.
Next up is the Vanity Station. We have ours set up as a ladies vanity as we were limited on space, but you could incorporate a coat rack or valet stand and include men’s items like ties, hats, and suit coats as well. We start with a desk or vanity table, and a chair with arms that will easily slide under the vanity (this is important, as a chair with too-tall arms will damage the vanity front). Do not use one of the backless, arm-less stools that often come with vanities, nor an arm-less chair as residents cannot easily sit or get up from these. I have seen some communities use a vanity with a mirror, but if you chose to do so, just make sure the mirror isn’t upsetting to any residents (read more about it here). Display items at varying heights and in different vessels. Using a variety of materials, colors, and textures in the items you put out will make the station most appealing to the residents. Below is a list of items we include:
- Coat rack or full height dress form (if space available)
- Jewelry box or jewelry display racks
- Necklaces of varying lengths, metals, and textures (long chains, chunky beads, pearls)
- Bracelets of varying types (bangles, tennis bracelets, beads)
- Clip-on earrings (larger styles so they are visible)
- Costume rings with adjustable bands (larger styles so they are visible)
- Colorful scarves
- Hats of various styles (floppy sun hats, bucket hats, vintage styles)
- Handbags or clutches (if purchasing vintage make sure inside is clean and free from loose items)
- Fashion magazines or binder with collected fashion ads
- Empty perfume bottles (only in communities where having glass is not an issue)
For artwork, we generally use images of people putting on makeup, vintage magazine ads, or something fashion or beauty related. Fair warning, this is a station where the items most often ‘walk’. This is not always a bad thing, nothing is better than seeing a resident walking around the community wrapped in a beautiful scarf! But we do encourage communities to monitor this station carefully and put back items from resident rooms nightly. If a resident falls in love with an item, just make sure to refill it in the station.
We always tell communities that although we make suggestions on what to use in these stations, only the community knows their residents and their habits, likes and dislikes. What may be successful and safe for one community may not be in another.
We hope this helped give some ideas for ladies’ memory care stations. Head over to our shop if you need to refill your stations or start new ones!