Thanksgiving is approaching, a holiday rich with traditions and things that stimulate the senses (hello, turkey and pumpkin pie!). It is a wonderful time for reminiscing and connecting. To make it easy, I have put together this Thanksgiving 'Fill the Plate' Activity that can be used as a tool to engage in activity and conversation with the person with Alzheimer's or other form of dementia. Long-term memories stay with the person with dementia longer, so tapping into those is a wonderful activity and way to connect. Use these prompts to spark memories, laughter and joy! It can even be done as an activity with the larger family, kids and grandkids, with each person sharing a memory or a favorite.
"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, watching football or parades, etc. You could ask what else might be on the table, such as special dinnerware. You could do a related activity, such as an Autumn or Raking puzzle.
If you give this activity a try, let us know how it goes for the person with dementia in your life. Happy Thanksgiving to all!
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!