15 Feb Recreation & Engagement at Copper Ridge
Fun With a Purpose
“I like to think of our department as fun with a purpose,” says Anna Monahan, CTRS, Recreation and Engagement Specialist at Integrace Copper Ridge, a dementia and neurocognitive support community in Sykesville. “As a bystander to our programs, you’ll see a group of individuals clapping, dancing, laughing, singing along, and sharing memories related to the music. But there’s so much more going on below the surface. Clapping enhances hand/eye coordination, while dancing sharpens gross motor skills and increases circulation. Laughing causes the brain to release endorphins, which boost the mood, and singing song lyrics exercises the brain’s recall function. In this way, something as simple as a sing-along activity actually creates a cascade of positive physical and cognitive effects.”
Sensory Stimulation Helps Residents Reach Goals with Neurocognitive Support
Sensory programs are especially important for those with neurocognitive disorders. At Copper Ridge, recreational therapists use a variety of activities such as drumming, singing, and even baking to provide sensory stimulation that helps residents to reach a specific goal, whether it’s increasing motor skills, or simply generating social interactions with peers and creating a sense of meaning and purpose. These modalities can even be an effective way to manage behavior without the use of medication.
“We always look like we’re happy go lucky and having fun with everyone, but there are goals attached and that’s the piece people may not realize,” Anna explains. “I think that’s why we’re so successful…because the residents themselves often think that they’re simply having fun, too. But behind the scenes, we asses, plan, implement, evaluate, and document constantly to ensure we are providing the most person-centered interventions and recreation possible.”
Braeden McKibben, MT-BC, another Recreation & Engagement Specialist at Copper Ridge, believes that the recreation team is essential in bringing meaning, purpose and joy to residents’ lives. “All we ask of residents is that they be themselves,” Braeden explains. “In return, we help them feel wanted, important and a part of something larger than themselves.”
Leisure Activities Increase Quality of Life
As dementia progresses, it can be challenging for residents to initiate leisure for themselves. When that happens, our recreation team steps up to help residents continue doing what they enjoy, while making any needed adaptations. “Everyone can participate in the leisure activities they enjoy with the right attitude and adaptations,” Anna says. “Our job is to increase quality of life and create an environment that allows and encourages residents to not only live the life they wish to live, but experiment with other leisure options that they might not have had time to do in their younger years.”
A unique aspect of Copper Ridge’s approach to recreation and engagement is the development and fostering of staff connections with the residents. “It is easy and natural for the Recreation department to engage with the residents and create relationships; it’s the central focus of what we do,” Anna explains. “However, we encourage all colleagues to get to know the residents on a personal level. We especially like to connect colleagues and residents with similar leisure interests.”
“We also give residents the opportunity to continue to share and teach us,” Anna says. “In my time at Copper Ridge, I have learned extraordinary things from our residents and I’m eager to learn more.”
Contact us to schedule a tour or to learn more about how Integrace Copper Ridge’s integrated solution to neurocognitive support provides so much more than just Alzheimer’s and dementia care.