“Making the Moments Count: Leisure Activities for Caregiving Relationships,” has a gentle, compassionate approach that encourages activities that will create memories to last a lifetime. I highly recommend this book by Joanne Ardolf Decker, PhD. The author is a professor emeritus of Therapeutic Recreation at Mankato State University in Minnesota. Even though it was published in 1997, the information is still applicable and very handy for caregivers, both family and professional.
The author explains the P.I.E.S.S. acronym to organize all the various benefits of leisure activity as follows: P-Physical, I-Intellectual, E-Emotional, S-Social, and S-Spiritual. The book is arranged in logical chapters and sections that allow for an easy read-through or the ability to jump around to information that will serve you best. It also includes a table of contents, resource list and index.
What I loved most about this book was the inclusion of a “checklist of favorites” and a simple, yet thorough, explanation of how to use the checklist to gather imperative information about your care partner. Once completed, one can begin to make plans for what types of activities might work best to create the most enjoyment and satisfaction for your loved one.
Also, the author reminds us of the importance of making goals, taking notes on our activity attempts, and lastly evaluating how everything turned out. For example, through completing the checklist you find your care partner enjoys doing puzzles. You decide to work together on a 100-piece puzzle together after lunch only to find your care-partner dozing off. Taking note of what happened, you decide that next time you will try getting everything set up after lunch while your care-partner is napping. When you try the activity after a nap, you find your care-partner much more engaged and actively participating. Rather than feeling like you’ve failed if something didn’t work the first time, this approach creates an environment of learning, trial-and-error and ultimately the most success when it comes to having the best possible experience in our relationships and activities together.
Throughout the book are case studies and anecdotal tales that illustrate putting the assessment, planning and evaluating into action. These stories all offer some insight for the reader as to what worked and what could be improved in a particular caregiving scenario. Each story evoked many emotions such as humor, saddness, inspiration, and satisfaction.
Finally, I’d like to mention the section on leisure for the caregiver. I am thrilled this was included in the book because it is so easy to overlook our own leisure needs in the midst of caring for others. Anything that is good for the care-recipient also applies to the caregiver.
I hope you enjoy reading this book and trying out some of the techniques described throughout keeping in mind that each activity doesn’t have to be perfect. As long as you are having fun together you are making the moments count!