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Dementia Care Activity Stations: Nurturing & Fashion

Welcome to Week 1 of our Dementia Care Activity Stations Series! Each week we will showcase a couple of example stations we designed 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 that feature nurturing and fashion.

Nurturing Stations for Dementia Care.

Although we set nurturing stations up like a small nursery, they’re not always used exclusively this way. Some residents bypass the dolls and baby items and go straight for the plush animals or soft blankets for a more sensory experience. I once created a station with a stuffed bunny, and a resident brought it over to a sofa and sat and petted it for 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 dementia care nurturing stations include:

  • Changing table (if space available)

  • Bassinet (if space available)

  • Baby clothing-onesies, pajamas

  • Burp cloths

  • Cloth and disposable diapers

  • Children’s books-stories residents would be familiar with like fairy tales and classic books

  • Soft blankets with different textures

  • Books, magazines, or albums with pictures of babies

  • Plush animals

  • Baby bottles

  • Life-like dolls

  • CD player with instrumental lullaby CD’s

  • Baskets or bins to keep items together

If you are limited on space, the nurturing station can simply 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. We chose to use nursery-themed artwork, but you could also use images of children or babies as a cue. Many communities report that this station is most heavily used by women, but some men do pick up the dolls, books, or plush animals as well.

Fashion Stations for Dementia Care

For fashion stations, we like to 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, armless stools that often come with vanities, nor an armless chair as residents tend to have difficulty sitting and standing 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. With more space, you can incorporate a coat rack or valet stand and spread items out. You can also include accessories like ties, hats, and suit coats as well. 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.

Items we often use for dementia care fashion stations include:

  • Coat rack or full height dress form (if space available)

  • Jewelry box or jewelry display racks

  • Hat stands

  • 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)

  • Colorful scarves

  • Neck ties

  • Hats of various styles (floppy sun hats, bucket hats, fedoras, vintage styles)

  • Handbags or clutches (if purchasing vintage make sure inside is clean and free from loose items)

  • Suit coats and colorful shawls

  • Fashion magazines or a binder with collected fashion ads

For artwork, we generally use images of people putting on makeup, vintage magazine ads of well-dressed people, 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 or sporting their new fedora! However, we do encourage communities to monitor this station carefully and collect items from the residents’ rooms each night. If a resident falls in love with an item, just make sure to refill it in the station.

We Help Build Dementia Activity Stations

We always tell communities that, although we make suggestions on what to use in dementia care activity 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 gives you ideas for designing your own nurturing and fashion stations.

Need help sourcing items? Let us know!


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