Research Day

Document Type





Background and Objectives: Studies demonstrate that social activities (e.g., church attendance, recreation, and group activities), productive activities (e.g., gardening, preparing meals, and shopping), and fitness activities (e.g., sports, walking, and exercise) are independently associated with survival of elderly persons even after functional disability. The Heritage Community of Kalamazoo focuses on activities such as bible study, music, pet therapy, and modified volleyball exercises to provide and maintain residents’ spiritual appreciation, cognitive abilities, and quality of life. The purpose of the project is to identify any strengths and weaknesses in activity programming for memory care residents at Heritage Community through observation and reflection of resident engagement. Furthermore, ongoing student interaction with the residents provides the organization with the opportunity to reflect upon their experiences on how to better communicate with geriatric and dementia populations. Methods: Five medical students investigated the engagement of Heritage Community memory care residents in various activities from July 2016 to December 2016. Students attended organized activities at Amber Place twice per month for two hours per session. Activities include devotions, dog visits, and modified volleyball games involving hitting a balloon. During each session, students observed residents as they participated in the day’s activities and recorded their observations. Student reflections were compiled to identify common themes between activities and attitudes. Results: Analysis of reflection notes demonstrate that most activities were effective in engaging residents with varying success. Activity effectiveness tended to vary by activity and day. It was not uncommon for residents to join and subsequently leave activities. Sometimes residents were not eager to engage initially, but with some persuasion and discussion, sat quietly and eventually participated. Activities involving music, singing, and devotions evoked general engagement. Residents enjoyed repetitive activities, such as dog visits and balloon games. However, residents most commonly lost interest in the balloon games during the activity. Conclusions: Overall, Heritage Community utilizes effective activities to maintain a stimulating environment for memory care residents. Residents appreciated activity consistency and commonly recognized when activities would occur. Study limitations included the inability to measure activity effectiveness across differing days of the week, as well as limited sample size. There are numerous opportunities for further research into resident engagement and activity programming at Heritage Community. Activity impact on resident engagement and emotional health is a particularly important area to direct further research with quantitative measures.



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