How to Engage Those with Dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease

There are over 35.6 million people worldwide living with dementia, according to World Health Organization. Would you know how to interact with someone suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s disease? Recently, medical assistant students taking Patient Care Sciences completed an applied learning project to learn more about the disease and how to interact with those suffering from it by creating an entire booklet of activities as a resource guide. The booklets were then given to a Lutheran Social Services program called MindWorks, which aids those suffering from early memory loss.

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Medical assistant students created booklets with resources to engage those suffering from dementia.

Michelle Vanden Heuvel, instructor of Patient Care Sciences and the medical assistant program chair at Globe University-Appleton, shared why this was an important applied learning project for her class. “We wanted types of activities that could be utilized by professional caregivers and family members alike, as sometimes family members are at a loss for what types of activities can be beneficial,” she said.

“We had covered caring for elderly patients in class, along with common diseases and disorders of the elderly, so the students were instructed to research and list activities that would be beneficial to dementia patients,” said Michelle.

“Once the list was compiled, the students were then instructed to create the instructions for each activity and combine those into a document that would be turned into a booklet,” said Michelle. The booklets contained 10 different activities that ranged from individual to group activities, and could be modified to meet different sensory needs.

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Some of the activities contained in the resource booklets include:

  •          Coloring, which can improve hand/eye coordination
  •          Playing music, which can encourage movement such as clapping or dancing
  •          Jigsaw puzzles, which can be done individually or with others and be therapeutic

Student reflection of the applied learning project

Medical assistant student Kalynne Daane found the project to be beneficial. “This helped my experience in the class because I do not have a whole lot of experience with patients with Alzheimer’s or dementia, and I feel like I learned about the disease and how to work with patients who are afflicted by this.”

medical assistant students, Globe University-Appleton

Medical assistant students assembling the booklets.

“I really enjoyed this project because even though working with groups can sometimes be a challenge, when you put minds together to help out the community, you can come up with some new and exciting ways to get people involved and keep others motivated,” shared Kalynne.

Way to go, medical assistant students! To keep up-to-date with what’s going on at Globe University-Appleton, please be sure to visit our Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/GlobeUniversityAppleton.