Creating Activity Spaces

How can you get an older family member you’re caring for to engage in activities, maybe even on their own?

Creating spaces for activities may help an older family member to take part in a favorite activity. By seeing, hearing, tasting, feeling, or smelling something in their environment she might be more likely to engage in an activity.

For example, a family scrapbook sitting out and open would more likely be picked up and looked at than sitting on a shelf. A basket full of yarn with a crochet hook sitting beside mom’s chair might be just the invitation for her to start a blanket. When things “catch our eye” it might trigger engagement in a meaningful activity.

basket with crochet project, hook, and yarn

crochet activity basket

Tips for creating activity spaces

  • Think about the five senses when creating a space. Senses are how we connect with our environment. What will your loved see and take notice of? What is easily heard? What may be tasted safely in the kitchen? What aromas will trigger a conversation? What may be safely picked up and touched?
  • Keep activity spaces and supplies organized and spaces clutter-free. Separate activity supplies and spaces so they may not overwhelm someone.
  • Think safety first. Make sure all spaces and supplies are appropriate for your older family member or friend and that they will be safe using them.
  • Use the spaces and supplies you have. You don’t need a lot of space or fancy supplies. Card tables, end tables, kitchen tables, etc… can work just fine to set things on. Things like baskets and plastic containers can hold other smaller items. The supplies you have may just need to be organized and set out for someone to use.
  • Take inventory of the things your family member likes to take part in. What are her favorite activities? What does he enjoy creating? Does she enjoy reading? If so, what? Make a list of those activities you know they enjoy now or used to enjoy doing.
  • Make a list of those activities you would like to try that maybe he has never tried before. There are many books, caregiver resources, and websites, including this one, (check out the activities tab for many ideas) that may inspire a new activity idea that is right for your loved one.
  • If your loved one is in a nursing home, consider the spaces in their room. How can you as a family member encourage your mom to take part in individual activities? Activity Coordinators certainly provide supplies as well, but creating a space for her favorite books, a scrapbook of family members, or a basket full of favorite things to rummage through helps to give it a family touch.
  • If you are a long-distance caregiver consider your options when you are home visiting. What can be done to encourage involvement in activities? What spaces and supplies can you set up and safely leave for him or her to use? Collaborate with your loved one on this project. If she takes part in the set-up, it may be used. Maybe Mom’s friends have tablets and she has been wanting to get one too, but doesn’t know the first thing about buying and using one. Help her to buy one and teach her how to use it. Many times senior centers have classes to teach participants how to use tablets. Just sign her up if she’s willing.

Look for more information…

about creating specific activity spaces. Links will be provided here when posts are published.

Creating a Space for Prayer

Tips for Creating Activity Spaces in the Garden for an Elder


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