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Dementia Care Activity Stations: Travel & Desk

Today I present to you the final installment in our Dementia Care Activity Stations Series! In the last few weeks, we provided general guidelines on how to set up dementia care activity stations. In each article, we include ideas for stations that typically appeal to a variety of dementia care residents. This week we will look at dementia care activity stations for travel and the ever-flexible desk station.

Travel Stations for Dementia Care

One of my favorite dementia care stations to pull together is a travel station. Whether you have residents who once traveled the world or just from their armchair, this station provides much for conversation and stimulation. It also is a big reminder of how much things have changed in travel! There were no emails or cell phones when they were young, so sending postcards was an important way to show friends and family where they were and tell them how they were doing. Also, luggage solely consisted of suitcases with handles. Rolling suitcases weren’t common until the 1990s. This is another station that can exist solely on the wall, in a basket/box, or with items spread out on a console table or bookshelf.

Some ideas for items to include in a dementia care travel station are:

  • Old suitcase or luggage

  • Maps

  • Atlas (world or road atlas)

  • Vintage postcards

  • Travel guides

  • Passport cover

  • Globe

  • Coffee table books of different countries or regions

  • Photo album with residents’ travel pictures from their younger days

  • National Geographic magazines (or other travel magazines)

For artwork, we typically use framed maps or travel illustrations. The maps are a great conversation starter to use with residents to ask where they have been or what their favorite trip was.

Desk Stations for Dementia Care

This station is the most versatile and can be modified in so many ways. It can be set up for a secretary, salesperson, doctor, lawyer, teacher, architect, etc. I remember hearing a story about a gentleman resident who had a career as a salesperson. He insisted on using the phone in the office to make ‘sales calls’. The director assumed that he was only calling a family member, until one day someone discovered he was calling a random person every day (he must have been misdialing a familiar number). The best part is that this person played along!

Some of the items we use in dementia care desk stations include:

  • Desk set (pencil cup, letter sorter, magazine file)

  • Pens and pencils (unsharpened or dull)

  • Desk pad

  • Calendar (paper or perpetual)

  • Books on different careers (medical, law, accounting, business, architecture)

  • Bookends

  • Business section of the newspaper

  • Calculator with large buttons or adding machine with tape (for adding machine, make sure functional and that there is an outlet to plug in)

  • Desk lamp

  • Magnifying glass

  • Typewriter (manual from the ’50s or later, or electric typewriter-make sure typewriter is functional)

  • Containers with paperclips, rubber bands, and binder clips for sorting

  • Envelopes of different sizes

  • Journal or notebook

Dementia care desk stations are typically located in a library or near offices, so for artwork, we will include something with books or office environment items. This is one of the most popular stations we provide to clients, as so many residents can use it in different ways. I will also mention, make sure the amount of items you put out is proportionate to the size of the desk you use. Having a cluttered desk with items getting easily knocked over could be stressful for a resident. A messy desk makes everyone crazy! Also, make sure this desk is only for resident use and not for employees to keep files in or work at. Emphasize this to employees, and discourage taking office supplies from this station for their own use.

Activity Station Design in Summary

There are an unlimited amount of dementia care stations you can pull together for residents to use. We wanted to show you some examples to help give you ideas and get your creativity flowing! The most important thing you can do is find out as much background information on your residents as possible. Use that information to make activity stations that are inspired, stimulating, and familiar. As we said in the first blog, we know dementia care communities are often stretched for staff. These activity stations provide a way to keep residents engaged when group activities are not as frequent and they have time on their own.

Creating and implementing dementia care activity stations has always been one of my favorite parts of working in senior living, and memory care specifically. I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to see residents looking through books or sitting down and touching all the items in a station. We have provided links within the lists in the series for example items to purchase for your own stations. If you are looking for specific items you cannot find, or want to implement stations across your company, feel free to reach out to us for assistance. We love to help!

Thanks for reading and please contact us with any questions or suggestions for things you want to see in our weekly blogs.


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