Creative memory boards improve Kingsway Lodge residents’ quality of life 

Rebecca, who is at an advanced stage of Alzheimer’s, works on the Dress Me Dora board and smiles into the camera.

For more than 15 years Creative Art Co. has been striving to “make art work” and “paint life better” for people living with dementia; their murals and activities created with a goal of directing or redirecting those suffering memory loss in order to reduce anxiety and enhance quality of life. Their latest project has
 been for the benefit of the residents at Kingsway Lodge in St. Mary’s Ontario.

Many of the residents at Kingsway Lodge have fond memories of playing with paper cut out dolls, a popular toy of their childhoods. With this in mind, Creative Art Co. set out to design special memory boards that would help engage residents by increasing their stimulation and generating memories. The boards are a magnetized version of paper dolls and matching games, allowing residents to practice motor skills while taking a walk down memory lane.

Murray is sitting at a table using the Play Me Sports board to help him bring back fond memories“The memory boards have had quite an impact on our residents’ lives,” says Kingsway Lodge Administrator Theresa Wakem. “We’ve seen expressions of joy in our residents as they work on them, as well an amazing reduction in responsive behaviours stemming from residents’ dementia.”

The home has “Dress Me Dora” and “Dress Me Jane,” doll boards that delivers a nostalgic feel for getting dressed in the 1950s or 1960s. They also have “Place Me Tools,” “Play Me Sports” and “Brand Me Motors.” 
 Resident Kay sits in her room and dresses one of the dolls on the Dress Me Jane board
“The tool and car boards have been particularly useful for us in decreasing behaviours in one of our residents, who has advanced Alzheimer’s,” explains Wakem. “Walter approaches these challenges with a positive attitude, expressing self-fulfillment when placing the items in the matching places. And it has also spurred deeper conversations about the names and uses of each tool and the cars he owned or recognized when placing names. This activity not only calms our residents but also brings back fond memories.” 

In a sector constantly looking for innovative ideas to improve the quality of life of residents, these boards have done just that. These thoughtful activities have not only benefited Kingsway Lodge’s residents, but also enabled staff to become more aware of each resident’s past, opening the doors to more resident-centred and behavioural support care.

Murray places an object into the Brand Me Motors board

In photos: Kingsway Lodge residents interact with the memory boards. From top to bottom: Rebecca, who is at an advanced stage of Alzheimer’s, thoroughly enjoys working with the Dress Me Dora board; Murray, an avid sports fan, found the Play Me Sports board to bring back fond memories; Kay shows off the Dress Me Jane board; and Murray uses the Brand Me Motors board.