Last updated on May 22, 2021
People living with dementia don’t do well sitting in front of the boob tube all day. They get bored. Anxiety, depression, and hopelessness can set in. And the risk for agitation, aggression, negative behaviors, and falls increase. I’ve seen it happen so many times.
Intelligent people prefer intelligent things to occupy their time with. Stimulating the brain to think, remember, and learn, and the body to stretch and move is essential for overall well-being.
So I’m sharing some great news with you today: Interesting Facts/Trivia/Jokes and Reminiscing are the perfect activities to get brain and body going in the right direction, and they’re completely FREE! 😀
Interesting Facts, Jokes, Trivia & Reminiscing: How These Activities Benefit People Living with Dementia
Sharing little tidbits of knowledge with people who are living with dementia may help them feel more engaged, inspire memories, and promote a sense of belonging.
Reminiscing is simply remembering the past. Everyone reminisces. No two memories are the same, and each comes with its own unique sights, sounds, smells, feelings, and people. Even not-so-good memories, when mulled over, can help individuals recognize lessons learned, personal growth, and even provide some relief from past grief or blaming.
Nostalgia, which is a warm and comforting feeling, often accompanies reminiscing. Recalling a fond memory, talking about it, looking at pictures, and or experiencing the original emotions can be a healthy practice.
Reminiscing and nostalgia combined can increase happiness; positive feelings are contagious when experienced with a group of like-minded folks.
I always use these activities together because they’re synergistic. Interesting facts or trivia about a certain topic can lead you right into a fabulous reminiscing and nostalgic session and vice versa–after a good reminisce and nostalgia activity, fun trivia and jokes are like icing on the cake.
People Living with Dementia Need a Nudge
You are the driver of activities for people living with dementia. Whether you’re a family member caring for one person, a friend who stops by to help now and then, or a professional caregiver or manager with a group of residents, the goal is the same: To introduce a subject that will allow memories and nostalgia to flow.
Before you dive in, consider the specific interests, hobbies, careers, and histories of those who’ll participate. Then pick a topic–any topic. There are billions of choices. And trillions of memories in every brain. Sometimes we just need a friendly nudge to bring them to the surface.
It’s important to note that today’s music, celebs, gadgets, lingo, styles, and trends are not generally appropriate subjects for older adults. Check out what was happening in the 1940s-50s-60s: Who were the big names in Hollywood? What music were teens singing and dancing to? What were the most popular careers? What were hip and cool people wearing, driving, eating? What were the social norms and issues of the time?
You’re sure to find something suitable for seniors here:
|Favorite Cuisine||Imaginary Friend||Surgery||Light||Illness|
|Pet Peeve||Personality Traits||Diet||Plants||Drinking|
|Scary Things||Traditions||Age||World Records||Weeds|
|Life Skills||Good Advice||Bacteria||Psychology||Gambling|
|Monarchy||Unusual||Fast Food||Salary||Gold & Silver|
|McDonalds||Donation||Balloons||Country Fair||Quilting Bees|
|Employment||Chewing Gum||Pirates||Addiction||Rock & Roll|
|Solar System||Teddy Bear||Shipwreck||Wedding Ring||Redhead|
|Army||Marines||Navy||Coast Guard||Air Force|
These trivia websites are free to peruse and print:
An Example of a Great Facts & Reminiscing Activity
First, as I looked over my topics list to find a good example, “ice cream” caught my eye. I was reminded of a memory involving my dad who died 8 years ago from complications of Alzheimer’s disease. Ice Cream is a perfect topic.
So, to introduce the activity, share interesting facts about ice cream:
- It takes 3 gallons of whole milk to produce just 1 gallon of ice cream.
- The average cow produces enough milk over its lifetime to make 7,500 gallons of ice cream.
- According to NASA, ice cream is one of the three foods astronauts miss the most when they go on space missions. The other two: Pizza and soda.
- In 1945, the US military built the first floating ice cream parlor for the sailors serving in the Pacific during WWII.
- In 2017, Miki Sudo broke the world record for ice cream eating. She downed 16.5 pints of ice cream in 6 minutes.
- In 2016, Americans ate approximately 713,300,000 gallons of ice cream.
- Remember the popular phrase, “I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream”? It comes from a song written in 1927 by Howard Johnson, Billy Moll and Robert A.K. King
“I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream. Rah! Rah! Rah!
Tuesdays, Mondays, we all scream for sundaes. Sis-boom-bah!
Boola-Boola, sarsaparoola. If you’ve got chocolate, we’ll take vanilla.
I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream. Rah! Rah! Rah!
I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream. Rah! Rah! Rah!
Frosted, malted, or peppered and salted. Sis-boom-bah!
Oh, spumoni, oh tartoni. And confidentially, oh, no baloney.
I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream. Rah! Rah! Rah!”
(You can find recordings of the song on YouTube)
- America’s Top 10 Ice Cream Flavors
- Cookies & Cream
- Mint Chocolate Chip
- Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough
- Buttered Pecan
- Birthday Cake
- Moose Tracks
Read some Cheesy Jokes:
- Where do you learn to make complicated ice cream dishes? (Sundae School!)
- What does an ice cream lawyer say? (You got served!)
- What flavor ice cream do deer go for? (Chocolate chip cookie doe!)
- Knock Knock! Who’s there? Ice Cream! Ice Cream who? Ice Cream if you throw me in the cold, cold water!
- Why doesn’t anyone invite an ice cream cone to their party? (They’re a drip!)
- Got an ice cream for my girlfriend (Best trade I ever made!)
When I was about 7 or 8 years old my dad, his dad and 5 brothers took me to Snelgrove’s ice cream parlor for a treat. It was our family’s favorite place to go. Daddy loved a double-scoop cone of Burnt Almond Fudge. Grandpa enjoyed all ice cream as long as it had butterscotch syrup and walnuts on top. My young adult and teenage uncles weren’t picky.
While we waited for our order, I watched daddy banter and joke with his family from my stool at the counter in the huge gold framed mirror. The sights and smells were divine! I don’t remember what flavor ice cream I ate. All I know is I felt very happy and safe. Thinking about and sharing memories of dad with my residents would be a bonus to an already great day.
To involve members of the group, I’d ask them to share their memories of making ice cream, going to a birthday party, having ice cream on a date, eating ice cream at a reunion or on vacation, etc. And allow time for them to put thoughts into words and encourage all who wish to share to do so.
Any reminiscing activity is always better with visual and sensory aids. Often individuals living with dementia do not easily remember or recognize a word, phrase or idea without an object or photo to look at and hold.
Other ways to enhance reminiscing and nostalgia might include
- Listing ice cream flavors on your whiteboard (Blueberry, brownie, bubblegum, toffee, candy cane, cheesecake, cherry, coffee, cotton candy, eggnog, Georgia peach, key lime pie, licorice, maple pecan, maple walnut, pistachio, pumpkin, rocky road).
- Playing a matching game with ice cream cones. You can find the cones below online–color 2 for each flavor, cut, laminate, enjoy.
- Have an ice cream tasting party
- Make sundaes or root beer floats or banana splits.
- Bringing ingredients and ice cream maker (there’s a great list of recipes on foodandwine.com/desserts/frozen-desserts/ice-cream/).
- Learn about the history of ice cream.
- Make up a poem about ice cream.
- Read aloud a story of ice cream.
- Show funny YouTube videos of babies eating ice cream for the first time.
That’s the Scoop
I suggest keeping topics and conversations appropriate for your people. Reading down into a paper or list in a drone tone will turn them off and you’ll lose the attention of the group. Using eye contact, smiles, laughter, and well-prepared activities will improve the moods and behaviors of everyone, including YOU!
Please leave comments and questions below
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