Do the Memory Care Facilities You Are Viewing Offer Cognitive Stimulation Programs?

Sunshine Care Offers Classes to Provide Enrichment
and Delay the Progression of Dementia

OWL-MindOver the last 15 years, research suggests that certain types of activities may positively impact the brain more than others. (Mechelli et al., 2004; Gaser and Schlaug, 2003; Draganski et al., 2006). As a result of these conclusions, some innovative memory care facilities have started to develop special cognitive stimulation programs to engage residents in the early stages of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. These programs are designed to engage each participant, foster a sense of community and friendship, encourage the maintenance of important communication and writing skills, and may even delay the progression of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

If this sounds like the kind of program that you want offered to your loved one, then make sure you ask each memory care facility that you are considering whether they offer any type of cognitive stimulation program. As of this writing, most memory care facilities do not, be we think that is quickly going to change.

At Sunshine care, our cognitive stimulation program is entitled The Older Wiser Learners Society (OWLS). We created this program, because we believe that dignity goes beyond just providing quality housing and care for our Alzheimer’s and dementia residents. We encourage our residents to develop a sense of belonging in our community and maintain a sense of purpose even in the face of a difficult diagnosis.

Introducing the OWLS Program

The OWLS program offers ongoing, one-hour classes taught by a Certified Cognitive Stimulation Instructor. Each class provides consistent structured stimulation for residents with early stage memory loss through hands-on projects, discussions, and other meaningful activities.

So, what exactly does a typical OWLS class look like? That really depends. Each class focuses on a different topic and includes a unique array of activities and exercises, each broken up into ten-minute segments so as not to over-tax the attention of participants.

Every activity is geared toward meeting one of our ten cognitive stimulation categories:

  1. Critical Thinking/Humanities/Arts and Culture
  2. Muscle Memory/Movement/Exercise
  3. Life-Long Learning
  4. Patterns & Sequencing
  5. Memories/Processing/Recall
  6. Everyday Logic/Math/Geography/Sciences
  7. Social Engagement/Self-Esteem
  8. Spiritual/Mental Health
  9. Civic Engagement/Citizenship/Community Service/Ambassadors
  10. Personal Preference/Connection to Traditions/Music & Memory

Recently, a class topic was “U.S. presidents” in honor of the kick-off of the current election season. One of the class activities was to try to match famous quotes to the presidents who said them, (“Four score and twenty years ago…”). In another class, “Name That Tune,” participants discussed memories of the music they loved growing up and we listened to classic music clips together. Other activities may include:

  • Watching movie clips related to the topic
  • Sharing personal stories with the class
  • Journaling memories or opinions
  • Discussing new ideas related to the topic
  • Acting or reading short plays, stories, poems, and songs
  • Competing in friendly trivia, sports, math, and music games
  • Working on a project that benefits a chosen charity

OWLS Classes In Action

Sunshine Care offers two OWLS classes a week for three different groups of participants, segmented by cognitive levels. All six weekly classes are taught by Lisa Lipsey who has noticed a significant amount of enthusiasm and participation from class attendees. The classes are completely optional, so we know our residents truly enjoy the experience when they show up week after week to take another class.

In every class, Lisa makes an effort to personalize the discussion to include each participant and to keep the topics relevant to their interests. For example, in the “U.S. presidents” class, the discussion turned to memories of leadership position the residents held when they were in school.

Who is Eligible for OWLS?

Class participants must be a resident at Sunshine Care to participate in OWLS, though the classes are not appropriate for every resident. The classes are ideal for residents in the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s or dementia.

If you are interested in having your loved one participate in the OWLS program, we would be happy to perform an assessment to ensure they would be a good fit. We believe that the OWLS program, along with our many other special programs, including our Intergenerational Programs, Memories in the Making© Program in partnership with the San Diego Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, and our Horticulture Therapy Programs make Sunshine Care a national leader in memory care.

Learn more about our OWLS Program by reading our full brochure or call us at (800) 811-9595 with your questions.



Categories: Memory Care

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