As the Thanksgiving holiday approaches, I thought it a good time to offer this Thanksgiving activity idea that is great for older adults participating in activity programs, including those with Alzheimer's or other form of dementia. Talking about a holiday that is so highly celebrated and recognized is great for people with dementia, as it can tap into the long-term memories that stay intact longer with the disease. This activity can also be done in the home setting - kids can participate, too!
"Fill the Plate" Thanksgiving Activity for Dementia
- A dry erase board or big piece of paper to write on
- A picture of a Thanksgiving meal plate of food (i.e. with turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, etc.), taken from the internet or magazine
Tell the group that you planning or helping to plan a Thanksgiving dinner and need their help in choosing the menu! Show them the picture of a Thanksgiving meal plate, then ask - "What food would you put on your Thanksgiving plate?". You may need to periodically remind the person of this main question. Offer prompts, as needed, as suggested below:
- What turkey meat would you have? - dark or white meat? would you have ham or other meat?
- What vegetable would you have? - corn, peas, green beans, sweet potatoes?
- What kind of dressing would you have? - corn bread or white bread? stuffed in the bird or on the outside?
- What about mashed potatoes? - with gravy or not? how do you prevent lumps in the gravy?
- What kind of salad would you have? - cranberry or jello?
- What kind of bread would you have? - dinner rolls, biscuits, or cornbread?
- What kind of pie would you have? - pumpkin, apple, cherry, pecan? topped with whipped topping or ice cream?
"Fill the Plate" can be a great activity to start conversations and reminisce. You can even extend the activity to talking about traditions, like who hosted Thanksgiving. Enjoy!
We have put together a free set of Holiday Reminiscing Sheets that are perfect for sparking memories and conversation with the person with dementia. Access the set by clicking below!