Monday, April 7, 2008

Something For The Collectors

Do your residents have any collections? Is it too late for them to start collecting something now that they are living in a long term care facility? NO. But what could they start collecting now that would be fun but not take up too much space since space is certainly limited? What about the costs? Your residents are not going to have the funds to collect anything expensive. There may be ways to defray the costs and make it fun for the entire facility, including the staff, by incorporating various fund raisers into other activities, or making the fund raisers into main activities. Finding items to collect may be easier now that spring has arrived since garage sales are beginning to pop up everywhere. Garage sales and flea markets are ways for the staff of your facility to participate with a collections activity. Family members and friends can also get involved and have fun along the way, as well as giving them more to talk about when they come to visit. You may even be able to get your entire community involved. The sky is the limit.

To get you started, I am adding some links to items that could be made into collections for your residents. In addition to the collecting itself, what other kinds of activities could you come up with centering on the topics of the collections? How about trivia topics? Or reminiscing? If you haven't done this already, find out if any of the staff, staff family members, resident family members, or others in the community have collections they would like to bring in for a show and tell type activity. Could you have a history program centered around the type of collection, for instance, old post cards. Maybe even a story telling activity for the residents to make up stories about how the objects were once used or are used today.

Another type of collection is something that could be a community service project rather than an individual personal project. For example, the residents and staff as a unit could start a collection of non-perishable foods or non-food items that are needed for homeless shelters or for others in need. One facility I worked in had a quilting activity and then the finished projects were donated to various organizations who would then give them to people in need. This kind of activity could involve simply collecting quilt patches of any kind and size and the residents could sort them so they would be ready to use later. They could even bag and sell them as a fund raiser that could set the money aside for a service organization to use to help the community in some way. Pick up the pace of the collections and make a contest out of it. Divide up the facility wings into teams and have a special kind of prize for the "winners", then have a party when the contest is over. Collections for community service can be seasonal items that work for each season....for example, collect used coats, hats, gloves all in good condition throughout the summer and have them set aside and ready for the fall to be given to children and adults in need.

Either way, whether it be for personal individual collections, or group efforts for community service, it is sure to be something to give your residents something to look forward to. You can even incorporate children into these kinds of activities and make multi-generational activities out of your projects.

Here are some websites to visit to kick off your projects.

Another thing to think about is what item does your resident want to collect? Could you challenge them to think of something unusual to collect? The more unusual, maybe the more fun? Or maybe you might find out that the unusual item isn't all that unusual after all. For example, I just thought about collecting yo-yo's. So far at this point I have not done a search for yo-yo collections. But knowing the internet, I am sure there is something out there about collecting yo-yo's. Maybe that makes a resident want to collect antique toys. But that might be too broad of a topic. Ask them what their favorite small toy was when they were a child and see if they might be able to start a collection of that item. This would also apply to other items. It might be more fun to narrow the topic down to just one or two types of items to collect within a certain area. One of the stamp collecting sites I saw had the idea of collecting only stamps with pictures of dogs or cats. Another item people like to collect are old comic books.
I had a resident several years ago who loved stamps of all kinds. He was mentally challenged and did not care if the stamps were used or not. He just wanted stamps. The more stamps he could get the better. He had staff bringing him stamps from their mail at home. He had sticker books that he put his stamps in. Collections don't have to be for the monetary value as long as the resident is having fun with it. Collections can be done to bring family members closer together knowing that the collection can one day be passed on to another family member. It will have greater sentimental value knowing that it was something they were able to work on together.
Oh, and I just had to go look. Curiosity got the better of me:

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