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Dementia Care Activity Stations: Military, Fishing, & Sports

Welcome to Week 2 of our Dementia Care Activity Stations Series! In an attempt to help designers and dementia care communities create their own activity stations, we are giving examples of how we approached a variety of successful themes in the past. This week we will be discussing stations with the themes of military, fishing, and sports.

Military Stations for Dementia Care

For military stations, we like to focus on celebrating the residents who served, while promoting patriotism and pride. Make sure to avoid items that could trigger negative memories or feelings. Stay away from items related to combat, like helmets, artwork, or books showcasing battles or weapons. Every veteran has their own feelings about their time in the military. Some proudly signed on to serve their country, while others were drafted and felt (and may still feel) resentment. This is especially important to monitor as residents who served in Vietnam begin entering dementia care in higher numbers. Unlike previous wars where soldiers were celebrated with parades upon returning home, those coming home from Vietnam experienced extreme negativity and protests.

This station can be as large or small as you’d like. For a smaller station, just putting some themed art and small items on the wall would be sufficient. We typically use a console table or bookshelf, along with a coat rack or wall hooks for uniforms

Some items we currently use for dementia care military stations are:

  • Uniforms from branches of the military residents served in (army, navy, air force, etc.)

  • Frames to put resident military photos in (ask families for copies of photos)

  • Books about the military or patriotism (stay away from books about battles or weapons)

  • Medals

  • Small, handheld American flags, on stands or in a container

  • Canteen

  • Patriotic items (word art, wall decorations, bunting)

For artwork, patriotic images or military celebrations work best. One of our favorite images to use is the photograph “V-J Day in Times Square” by Alfred Eisenstaedt (the sailor kissing the nurse).

And please, don’t forget the lady residents in this station! We love using the Rosie the Riveter “We Can Do It” ad to include women residents. Females were not active in combat until the 1990s, during the Persian Gulf War, but they served as military nurses and in administrative roles since the Korean War. If your community has women residents who held one of these positions, it is great to incorporate pictures of them in their uniforms.

Fishing Stations for Dementia Care

When it comes to dementia care fishing stations, we need to be creative since several items used for fishing are potentially dangerous to residents. We will often use fishing lures, but remove all the hooks, or use a smaller fishing rod with just the fishing line and no lure. Luckily it is pretty easy to find some decorative fishing items to bulk up the station.

Some items we use for dementia care fishing stations are:

  • Tacklebox or fishing basket

  • Bobbers (assorted sizes and colors)

  • Fishing line

  • Small fishing pole (you can find children’s poles that are a smaller version of the adult pole and not childish looking)

  • Handheld net

  • Fishing gloves

  • Fishing hat (bucket hat or baseball cap with fishing brand or imagery)

  • Book about fishing with images of fish

  • Fishing vest

  • Measuring tape (a regular one, or one specifically for fishing)

  • Decorative fishing items (signs, fish figures/sculptures)

For artwork, we look for images of people fishing or images of actual fish. If there are certain kinds of fish that are common in the area, showcase those. Residents love to remember catching certain fish, they may even have a whopper of a story for you!

Sports Stations for Dementia Care

Lastly, we’re going to touch on sports stations. These stations are probably the most customized, as you will want items from your local teams to get residents excited. We typically include the most popular professional and college sports teams in the area. If a community has residents who were teachers or boosters from the local high school, those teams can be included as well. Similar to the military example, this station can just consist of a wall station or include a bookshelf or console table for extra items. Stay away from sporting goods that could be used as weapons (golf clubs, baseball bats, hockey sticks, etc.)

Some examples of items we use for dementia care sports stations are:

  • Assorted baseball cards

  • Team jersey or t-shirt

  • Team signs or pennants

  • Coffee table books on sports

  • Baseball glove

  • Baseball cap with sport logo

  • Box of golf tees (can be paired with containers to create sorting activity)

  • Sports section from the newspaper

  • Bobblehead sculptures

Artwork can be of specific teams or general sports images. We found these great canvas reproductions of old Milwaukee baseball tickets and used a photograph of the old stadium in the image above. Below, we stuck with a non-team, specific baseball theme. It is also fun to find out which sports residents like and schedule an activity around a live sporting event, like grilling hot dogs and watching a baseball game on TV.

We Design Dementia Care Activity Stations

We hope we’ve given you some ideas that you can implement in your dementia care stations to make your residents feel more at home! For more tips and information on where to source items, don’t hesitate to reach out! We’d be happy to help.

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