Find Six Differences

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Loy Campbell

By Loy CampbellJune 23rd, 2020

Find Six Differences


by Loy Campbell, MS, OTR/L,

PAC Certified Mentor and Trainer

You know that game in the newspaper where there are two pictures that are very similar, but slightly different? I’m hoping this one won’t be quite as difficult:

Do you have your list ready? Here’s what I came up with for what changed between picture #1 and picture #2:

  1. There is a new light.
  2. There is now an ottoman.
  3. There is now a small wooden board in the middle of the couch.
  4. The mug changed from a regular mug to a mug with a lid.
  5. The mug moved from the table to the board on the couch.
  6. The blue pillow moved to be within reach of the corner seat by the lamps.

Now all of the readers who are what people are totally satisfied and will now stop reading. But all the why people are just now getting their wheels turning. Why did she make these changes?

These photos are from my living room. As you might have noticed, there is also a book on the couch that didn’t move. Picture #1 was the scene at my house yesterday as I sat down to read. Picture #2 is what I ended up with a few minutes later.

As I noticed all of the environmental changes that I made to improve my reading experience, I realized that I was considering the PAC concepts of the four F’s and the four S’s. Is this environment friendly, functional, familiar, and forgiving for reading? How are the surfaces, space, sensory experience, and social engagement a good match, or not, for the activity I am doing?

I certainly was in a friendly and familiar place, my own home. But, I needed to increase functionality and forgiveness to have the optimal reading experience. To do that, I thought about those four S’s:

  • I needed a better surface to hold my tea since it was an uncomfortable stretch on my shoulder to reach back for it on the side table. It was better to put it next to me on the couch, except then it would spill, thus comes the board. Also, the vessel holding that tea changed to a travel mug, a much more forgiving choice.
  • The space was almost right, except that it only contained a coffee table that was a little too low for my legs to comfortably sit, so I brought in an ottoman from another room. A good combination of a space and a surface change.
  • The lighting is an integral part of the visual sensory input needed to enjoy reading. Since it was early morning and the sunlight was not yet coming through the window, I brought in another lamp to do the job. Cheers for increasing function. Another sensation was what I felt in my body. In comes that blue pillow that was moved close by. My arm muscles began to ache as I held up the book in front of my face, or my neck hurt as I leaned my head down to the book in my lap, so a pillow on my lap was just what I needed.
  • Reading is a solitary activity for me, just the way I like it, as an introvert. What you can’t see in the photo is that I have my phone on silent so that the social environment is perfect for the activity.

As many of us are spending more time in our homes these days, how can we more critically assess the environment where we are living? What about for people living with brain change? I hope you’ll enjoy considering how friendly, functional, familiar, and forgiving your environment is, and perhaps finding six ways you can improve the surfaces, space, sensory experience, and social match for the next meaningful activity that you or someone you love engages in.

Loy Campbell is an Occupational Therapist with dementia care experience in several settings. With Positive Approach® to Care (PAC), Loy leads trainings nationwide for certification courses, serves as a mentor for learners in PAC certification programs, and consults with families and professionals who are facing challenging care situations. In her occupational therapy roles, she works at Duke Regional Hospital (Durham, NC) with patients with a variety of diagnoses in acute care and inpatient rehabilitation, as well as at University Occupational Therapy outpatient clinic. She also has three years of experience in home health and hospice.

Prior to becoming an Occupational Therapist, Loy earned her Bachelor’s in Sociology from the University of Mary Washington (Virginia). She then spent three years in Northern California working at an assisted living facility. It was there that she found her passion for care partnering with people living with dementia. Her job was focused on facilitating individualized, meaningful activities with each resident of the building's dementia care neighborhood. She earned her Master's in Occupational Therapy from San Jose State University (California). In her free time, Loy enjoys playing tennis, quilting, reading nonfiction, traveling, and weekend trips to her hometown of Blacksburg, Virginia to visit family and watch Hokie football. 

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