It's Not The Outcome.

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I’m very “Type A.” I like when things on my to-do list get done quickly, efficiently, and come out perfectly.

You can’t expect the same things when someone has dementia. I do a lot of crafts and cooking with my residents because they love being involved. I’ve discovered that, if crafts are more than one or two instructions, my residents struggle and get distracted. They also don’t do too well with “abstract” things, either. Something that might work well for kids, like making a specific object out of clay, is more challenging for people with dementia. 

The best crafts that I do with my residents involve simple steps or familiar outcomes. Many of my residents love to help me bake cookies because this is a task that they are very familiar with. Simple crafts like painting birdhouses, planting in the garden, or creating easy art out of buttons (see my Pinterest) are among their favorite programs. When we aren’t crafting, tasks like folding and matching socks, organizing lids and jars, or even putting a puzzle together are really popular.

It’s never about the outcome when someone has dementia–it’s all about the process. The desire to feel useful never goes away, and it’s really rewarding to get residents involved in programs that help them feel like they’ve accomplished something.

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Rachael Wonderlin has a Master’s in Gerontology and is the author of two published books with Johns Hopkins University Press. She owns Dementia By Day, a dementia care consulting company.

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I wrote this poem years ago, but to date, it’s the most popular piece I’ve ever created.

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