5 Group Programs to promote Cognitive Stimulation at all levels of cognitive function

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5 Group Programs to promote Cognitive Stimulation at all levels of cognitive function

Posted on May 28, 2012

Structured group activities designed to stimulate cognition has shown to be effective in improving the mental functions of people with mild to moderate dementia, according to a new study was published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. (Click here to read the full study).  Cognitive Stimulation provides activities for people with dementia to stimulate thinking, memory and social interactions, in order to delay the progression of dementia symptoms.  Smaller studies have shown that people with dementia who took part in programs such as these have shown evidence of improved communication and interaction with other individuals, impacting their quality of life.

Many daily programs offered in retirement communities can be designed to stimulate cognition. However they do not need to be focused primarily on residents that suffer from dementia or Alzheimer’s. Try incorporating some of these program ideas to offer cognitive stimulation within small to large groups with residents with varying cognitive abilities.

1.      Sorting

Equipment: Multiple items of different colors (cloth, crayons, balls, paper, etc.), flash cards, baskets

Description: Get a basket for each resident and fill it with several different items of different colors. On the flash cards write different descriptive words (i.e. black, white, round, square, soft, hard, etc). Show the residents a card and have them select an item that matches the description.

2.      Clay or Play dough Molding

Equipment: Multiple pictures, such as animals or simple objects, modeling clay or Play dough

Description: Have an image of a bowl, animal or an everyday object and have the residents recreate the image that they see using the clay. You could offer pictures that have 2-3 images each and allow the residents the choice to pick one of the three to create.

3.      Auditory Attention

Equipment: Paper, writing utensils

Description: Read a string of numbers aloud to the residents for 20 to 30 seconds at a time. Pause in between numbers at least 2 seconds. Ask the resident to write down the number “2” every time he/she hears that number, or simply to make a mark every time the resident hears the number “2” read aloud. Record how many correct marks are made.

4.      Find the Object

Equipment: Bowl, rice, variety of smaller objects, possibly blindfold or barrier to block the image of the bowl.

Description: Pour a bag of uncooked rice into a large bowl. Put 2 small objects that can fit into the palm of your hand into the bowl of rice. Mix the objects into the rice well so that they are somewhat hidden. Ask the residents to find the objects hidden within the rice with one or both hands. The residents should either keep eyes closed for this activity or at least not “look” for the objects visually. Let the residents “feel” for them and dig them out of the rice. Also, before the resident looks at the found object, ask them to tell you what they found.

5.      Bean Bag Toss

Equipment: You can make bean bags as described below or purchase bean bags at a local store. Koosh® balls or Nurf® balls would also be appropriate.)

Description: Make beanbags with 2 socks and a one pound bag of dried beans. Divide the beans in half and put into each sock. Twist the “leg” of the sock and fold back down over the “foot” to close or they can be quickly and simply sewn shut. Beans can be added to the beanbag for more weight and more challenge. Start with just one ball or bag and toss it back and forth to the resident. Ask the residents to catch the ball/bag with both hands at first, if possible; in order to develop a rhythm. When the residents become comfortable with catching with both hands, ask the group to try and catch the ball/bag with only one hand.