Shopping for things like food, clothing, gifts, household items is a pretty important part of everyday life. However, for people with dementia the simple act of shopping may become a major point of stress or confusion. Experts at the University of California in San Francisco say dementia patients “may want to buy things they do not need, spend more money than necessary, or shoplift.”
When people move into a memory care community, the need to shop obviously goes away – but the desire to browse or make decisions may remain. Since shopping is something most people do on a regular basis their entire lives, it is a familiar activity that can still bring purpose and even joy.
To help residents enjoy an afternoon of “shopping,” the Safe Harbor team at The Saybrook at Haddam came up with a wonderful approach. For several weeks, they sought donations of gently used books, jewelry, clothing, and other small items from staff, family and friends. Then, Ann Bertini, Safe Harbor’s recreational director, laid everything out on tables or hung on racks in Safe Harbor’s large meeting room. Finally, residents were invited to go shopping. No money was exchanged, but everyone was able to browse, try things on, and make selections as gifts or for themselves.
“People with dementia do not always get to enjoy the pleasure of browsing and finding treasures to keep,” Ann said. “Shopping is an activity that allows people to make choices, assert independence and maintain dignity. Our shopping day gave them that opportunity, and we deeply thank our generous supporters who helped make it all happen.”
Residents at Safe Harbor enjoy specialized activities like the shopping day on a regular basis, which helps create an engaging and thriving environment and high quality of life. For more information or personalized tours of the memory care community, please click here or call David Downey at 860-345-3779.