Sometimes it doesn’t take much at all to engage my 98-year-old mother who suffers from dementia. During one visit, we played catch with an imaginary ball. Once she got the hang of it, I’d pretend it was an egg that had to be handled gently lest it break, a hot potato that could burn if it wasn’t tossed back quickly enough, or a heavy weight I could barely lift. My mother would cradle the imaginary egg in both her hands and transfer it with great care into my mine; the other scenarios were more problematic for her.

M~, one of her aides, joined us for the game, and seemed happy to participate. Whenever that happens, my hope is that this type of activity will continue in my absence, not only for the benefit of my mother but perhaps even more so for her attendants who face boredom and monotony on a daily basis. Unfortunately, I rarely see any follow-up. My sense is that interactive play and exploring the creative imagination are not included in basic caregiver training and job descriptions. One of ElderSparks goals is to change all that.