Working at a community hub like the Niagara-on-the-Lake Public Library means Debbie Krause and her coworkers get to know the people of the town.
As a result, they also get to know when a patron’s personal situation shifts, especially in a community with a large demographic of older adults, where changes to one’s health, including their cognition, can be pronounced.
“Because we’re frontline, you do see people start to diminish,” Krause said. “Dementia is a common topic of conversation and it’s really hard to know how to support those people because they disappear, and their caregivers disappear because they’re nervous about taking them out in public, and we lose them (as patrons at the library).”
For the longest time, all Krause and crew could do in those situations do was offer information about the local chapter of the Alzheimer Society.
Now, however, thanks to community grant worth $5,000 from the Niagara Community Foundation, the library has acquired 10 cognitive care kits to lend to patrons. Three staff, including Krause, have also been trained to support the skills and abilities of those living with dementia in Niagara-on-the-Lake and their caregivers.
The kits, which are based on a Montessori approach for dementia, include puzzles, sorting and matching games with colours and numbers, workbooks and colour-by-number activities. They also feature large-print books.
They’re activities someone might already be familiar with and emphasize engagement with loved ones over doing the activities correctly.
“It’s about giving caregivers, the child or spouse of a person with dementia, a tool. The activities are the interaction and that takes the pressure off,” Krause said. “Everyone’s been touched by dementia. This is about creating positive interaction.”