A Valentine's Activity for People with Dementia and Others
In the past, working as a dance/movement therapist with people with dementia in a long-term care facility, I was aware that there were many people who hoarded ~ things like napkins or drinking cups. I thought about how they had been stripped of much of what had provided comfort and security in their past. In addition to their memories, they were now deprived of their very homes and belongings (to say nothing of the people they lived with). So when I ran very large dance groups, sometimes with as many as 75 people, caregivers, and family members, I tried to give them something to take with them, something inexpensive. It often required my time to make something, but I used that time to think about the individuals and plan the playlist. I think that sort of attention helps bring a greater level of quality and attentiveness to the group, as I prepared to be present for and with them.
In the past, I have cut out heart-shapes on colored paper, printed with Valentine’s messages and glued onto popsicle sticks. Messages such as we used to find on the little heart shaped candies or made popular in songs, especially by Frank Sinatra: I’m yours; Be mine; I ♡ you; Come dance with me; Have a heart (sneaking a little Bonnie Raitt in there); Have a heart; I’ve got the world on a string; Be my valentine; I get a kick out of you; You make me feel so young; I’ve got you under my skin.
This year, as I was planning my groups, there were so many things to celebrate this week – Mardi Gras, Superbowl, voting, snow here in Boston, and, of course, Valentine’s Day. As I gathered up some of my props, like cotton batting for snow ball fights, and masks for Mardi Gras, I began making the hearts. But then I got what I hope is a brilliant idea. I made paper airplanes with the Valentine’s messages. From the Fold N Fly website, I followed the directions to make the Basic Dart.
Here are the pics:
If I worked in a facility rather than just coming in for the 1 hour of my group, I would have the residents make the planes. This is a great folding activity for those who love to fold. I imagine that the sharper the creases, the better the plane will fly, so pressing the folds could be someone’s job. One could make the planes first, and then put stickers of their choice on them.
With my fleet of Valentines, I plan to give one to each person, and then have them send the Valentines off toward the other group members. Maybe to Sinatra’s song, Straighten Up and Fly Right.
And, of course, whatever happens, will be what will happen. And together, we will lift each other up.