On Valentine’s Day at The Saybrook at Haddam, you may have seen a joyful group of Safe Harbor Memory Care residents traveling throughout the community making special deliveries of hand-made chocolate hearts. This happy bunch had worked for several days making and wrapping the candies, tying them up in pretty bows, and placing them in baskets, ready for personal deliveries to all employees. And when Valentine’s Day came, residents put on their most festive hats and set about the community, delivering candies and plenty of smiles!
Residents visited each office and department handing out candies at every turn. They stopped to see (pictured here) Executive Director Jeff Williams, Receptionist Melissa Vicchito, Maintenance Director Barry Osalza, Food Services Cook Dan Reynolds, as well as other team members. Everyone enjoyed this wonderful surprise and appreciated the gesture of thanks.
Karen Bloomquist, recreation assistant at Safe Harbor, organized the project as a service-oriented activity that tapped into the residents’ lifelong love of cooking and making things. Karen melted the chocolate in the microwave and helped residents spoon the chocolate into heart-shaped molds. They placed lollipop sticks in the molds before putting them into the freezer to set. Once ready, residents removed the candies from the molds, placed them in plastic bags, and tied on a red ribbon. Karen said this fun project gave them purpose and joy – and challenged their cognitive and fine motor skills in an engaging way.
“This project made residents feel so good,” Karen said. “It really empowered them to be able to make these treats and express thanks to our hard-working and wonderful staff.”
Kathy Hallett, director of Safe Harbor, agreed. “We strive to make all engagement opportunities meaningful and purposeful,” she said. “Many of our residents were active volunteers in their communities before moving to memory care. Doing a service project like this is reminiscent of activities from their past.”
According to experienced dementia caregivers, meaningful activities for memory care patients are crucial to improved quality of life. Additionally, the Alzheimer’s Association says that these types of familiar and meaningful activities help dementia residents reinforce their individuality. In addition to giving residents a chance to be creative and serve others, these projects allow everyone to enjoy success in the moment – without being concerned of the outcome.
The Saybrook at Haddam endorses this, which is why the team carefully plans daily activities that appeal to each resident, are engaging and do-able, and tap into former strengths or skills. Residents really thrive in the moments when they are working on these projects, which is the primary goal of daily life at Safe Harbor.
This also is why our Valentine’s Day candy project was so much fun – and residents were able to spread a special kind of sweetness to all!
For a private tour of The Saybrook at Haddam or its Safe Harbor memory care neighborhood, please fill out the form below or contact David Downey at 860-345-3779.