Taking time for Tray Play

When our aging loved ones need care, whether they are in an assisted living facility, health and rehab center; or receiving in home care, there are so many immediate needs regarding food and nutrition, personal care, transportation, physical health, financial support, etc.

Tending to these needs is crucial.

But at the same time, we are moving into an era where we are beginning to pay more attention to not just the care we need to provide to support “decline”, but rather to support continued “growth.”Therefore, opportunities are needed for conversation, creativity, and self-expression.  This, however, may be easier said then done, (as I had mentioned before that there are numerous needs that MUST be met), if there is not a structured way to implement activities and experiences that nurture them socially and emotionally.

Implementing Tray Play into one’s regular routine, whether it is weekly, every other week, or monthly, ensures that your loved one has some time carved out for self-expression, creativity, and joy.

And within this creative experience, cognitive abilities are challenged as materials are arranged on the tray just right, almost put together like a puzzle.  Conversations emerge as a result of working with an unusual object, or memories may be sparked from a familiar one.  Because materials are not all presented at once, there is communication between facilitator and player during distribution.  Then, a pulling back can occur from the facilitator to allow their player to slip into their own enchanted world that has been created by their own two hands, and experience the emotional component that Tray Play can provide.  To be “in the moment”, free from past troubles or future worries, is freeing and uplifting, and perhaps fueling the spirit to forge forward with the day.

These moments are important even if we can live without them.  But why would you want to live with out them?


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