Creating Moments of Joy

Creating Moments of Joy post page

Online Dementia Journal

By Online Dementia JournalNovember 16th, 2020

Creating Moments of Joy

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by Kari Rogenski, RDT, LMFT,

Director of The Hummingbird Project by Sage Eldercare Solutions and Co-Creator of Joyful Moments: Meaningful Activities to Engage Older Adults


At The Hummingbird Project, we celebrate the importance of cultivating joy, engaging curiosity, and fostering personal expression, especially during this uniquely challenging moment in our history. Joyful Moments: Meaningful Activities to Engage Older Adults by The Hummingbird Project is one of the first decks of therapeutic activity cards to address creativity as its own domain of wellness. That’s right, creativity is not just an activity. We see it as a necessary and integral component to holistic wellness.

Creative aging is key to promoting self-expression and helping individuals to thrive. Research shows us time and again how participating in arts-based experiences not only supports our emotional well-being, but can also help to reduce the need for medications, reduce the negative impact of isolation, and can support our physical well-being. From artistic acts (such as visual and theater arts) to everyday creativity (such as gardening, cooking, and decorating one’s home for the season), creativity is a necessary expression of self that is rich with purpose and meaning, and just plain fun.

We also believe in dissolving the identity of a care partner/person living with dementia to become activity partners having a shared relational experience. We encourage you to de-role and embrace the moment so the positive impact of activity can support both individuals' healing journey.

Here are just a few simple and fun autumn-themed activities from our set as we enter this season of gratitude and thanksgiving:

Celebrate Autumn Through Autumn Rituals: Autumn rituals provide comfort, joy, and sense memory. Collect pumpkins and make a table display, enjoy a leaf rubbing activity, bake a pumpkin pie, arrange autumn flowers, go on a walk to collect leaves, decorate a pumpkin with paint or leaves, and more. For our loved one living with dementia in community care, you can engage the senses through similar activities via the mail. Send or drop flowers and mini pumpkins, mail a box of pumpkin spice tea, or mail a postcard a week with autumn images. Have fun and get creative!

Foster an Attitude of Gratitude: Practicing gratitude connects us to something larger than ourselves, whether to other people, nature, or a higher power, and can significantly improve our everyday lives. Create a gratitude tree by purchasing a birch tree or gathering leaves from the outdoors on a nature walk. Then create or purchase cut leaves and adorn the tree with everything you and your activity partner are grateful for. Need a little help? Call your friends, neighbors, and community members and ask them what they are thankful for and add this to your tree. Concerned about a loved one living in community care? You can do the same thing from afar. Send them a tree via Amazon and mail them an envelope filled with things you are grateful for about them, which they can add to the tree. If a tree is a bit cumbersome, why not use a mason jar and create a gratitude jar full of what you appreciate? Or a gratitude bowl? What are you grateful for?

It’s in the Bag: Working with clients or loved ones who are agitated or edgy due to expression of an unmet need can be taxing. In this Joyful Moment, an activity partner presented her low-vision client living with Alzheimers disease with a bag of autumn-themed goodies: fruit, vegetables, gourds, spices, and decorative items, simple things from around the house. Together they transformed those items into a holiday centerpiece for her Thanksgiving table. For a loved one living in a community care setting, you can mail or deliver a bag of simple, safe, decorative items. You can also easily tailor this to PAC’s GEMS State Model to make this easier or more challenging as desired.

The Hummingbird Project was born out of the belief that quality of life is just as important as quality of care. We believe in living our whole lives through, truly living at every age and every stage of our lives. To learn more about how we help family members, caregivers, and older adults engage curiosity, foster personal expression, and reignite a passion for lifelong learning, visit us here.

Kari is Director of The Hummingbird Project by Sage Eldercare Solutions and Co-Creator of Joyful Moments: Meaningful Activities to Engage Older Adults. She is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and registered Drama Therapist. Kari is also a doctoral student at Saybrook University, where she is studying psychology, creativity, and gerontology.  


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