ConsultGeriRN.org’s evidence-based protocol for treatment of patients with delirium includes the provision of “a therapeutic environment”, one that provides patients with “appropriate sensory stimulation”. The use of an activity kit provides an opportunity for such stimulation via a carefully selected collection of tactile, auditory, and visual items. In addition, for many patients with delirium or dementia, expression may be difficult due to cognitive impairments in language, memory, and executive function. Working on activity kits may lead to “focused and intentional dialogue between caregiver and patient” (Conedera, 1997). Added benefits include enhanced cognitive integration, perceptual processing, and neuromuscular strength (Conedera, 1997).
The activity kit may include a wide range of items that are commonly used to provide diversion, such as games, audiotapes, and nontoxic art supplies. In addition, items such as pieces of textured fabric, cloth to fold, tools, and key and lock boards, are included for the person with more advanced dementia. Assessment and appropriate selection of activities is critical to avoid a “quick fix” or over-stimulation. The items should reflect/match the patient’s preferences, cognitive capacity, and physical abilities. It is crucial to avoid items that infantilize, insult, or threaten the person’s self-image (Conedera, 1997).
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