Using the Five Senses to Create Simple, Meaningful Activities, by Matthew Gannon
I began my caregiving career 20 years ago this month. When I started in the long-term care community, I was also working in the activities department. I enjoyed providing meaningful activities to residents living in assisted living, memory care, and skilled nursing.
My boss was wonderful, and of the many lessons I took from his mentorship, there is one which became an important part of my caregiving experience and practice, and it still is today. I was taught to create activities through the five senses. When you create activities using the five senses, you can then deliver more than an activity because you can create an experience that reaches the inner parts of people's feelings and memories.
Fall is now upon us, and this week's tip is to share an example of how anyone can create a meaningful activity through the senses. Doing this with a seasonal theme can be fun, stimulating, and easy to do. We will focus on apples (it is good to have a backup in case someone does not like apples).
There are countless things to do with apples. This can be done around a table together, indoors or outdoors depending on the weather.
Activities Using Apples
Sight: Be sure to have red, yellow, and green apples, big and small, stems and no stems, and they can be on display in a bowl or basket, lined up on the table, and separated by color, or mixed together. Everyone can also enjoy watching the apples be washed, cut, mashed, cored, peeled, dipped, and eaten.
Sound: Cutting or biting into an apple has very distinct sounds. Chances are, if everyone closed their eyes and someone took a bite of an apple in the room, people would recognize the sound. You can also roll several apples out of the basket onto the table which will make multiple light booming and rolling sounds all at once. It is a nice touch to also have light music playing in the background during the activity, or the sound of a crackling fireplace also adds to the overall stimulation.
Smell: The activity can include baking the apples into a pie, or cooking applesauce or apple cider on the stove. These pleasant scents can fill the room, or even the entire house, and they are sure to stimulate old memories and stories to be shared.
Touch: Everyone can work together to sort the apples, wash and core them, and mash or blend the apples if making apple sauce or cider. If making pies or other pastries, touching all of the products and mixing them together can be done by hand or with tools.
Taste: There are so many different ways to enjoy the taste of an apple. Whether you decide to eat sliced apples with dip, apples with cheese, apple sauce, apple cider, or any type of apple pastry or pie - the sweet taste of apples can be enjoyed in so many ways. It is also something people who need softer foods can enjoy, and for those who appreciate the good crunch of a juicy apple, fall is a great time of the year to enjoy good apples.
Remember, when you create through the senses you can deliver a real experience of stimulated emotions and memories that lead to conversation. It can be an inexpensive and rather simple activity to deliver and enjoy together during the fall season.