Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Helping them Remember: How one Girl Scout helped Alzheimer's patients

Gold Award Girls

The following entry was written by Marissa Konde about her Gold Award project--helping Alzheimer's patients--where she drew inspiration from and how she accomplished it. Thank you, Marissa!


For my project I made and led activities for an Alzheimer’s /dementia respite group called Mike’s Place. Mike’s Place program is part of Meals on Wheels (MoW) and is held in east Austin in the MoW building. About 16 families were being served with my project. The activities engaged the Alzheimer’s patient’s minds and helped them to keep communicating. It also strengthened family bonds since some activities were taken home and done with a family member.  It benefited others because the Alzheimer’s patients engaged their minds, reduced anxiety/ restlessness and kept them intellectually active. Also, their caregivers got a break, and the volunteers helped the participants grow.  Indirectly, I believe that others in Austin (and in the United States) benefited from my blog, which listed activities and directions to complete the activities. These groups or families would then have ideas for interacting with persons who have dementia.

I chose this project because my grandma has been having memory problems, and this project could help me learn more about memory difficulties.  I also selected it because my mom volunteers at Mike’s Place and she thought it would be a great place that could use my contribution. 

My goals were to impact the Alzheimer’s/dementia patients and families in a positive way, advertise my activity blog, and have some money donated for supplies for the sustainability of the project. I also created an interest survey for the participant’s families to complete so different kinds of focus could be incorporated into activities at Mike’s Place. 

 Many of them are sustainable because they can be reused again, time after time (see list of sustainable activities attached). I purchased some decorations to go with Mike’s Place weekly themes that can be reused year to year too.  I also raised $400 along with my church, which went to Mike’s Place to provide funding for purchasing materials needed for activities. I recruited the craft group from my church to commit to making a few activities for Mike’s Place next year. Hopefully my blog will continue to be a source of inspiration for others to do the same in their communities.

One of my biggest obstacles was collecting funds for supplies. I sent letters and emails explaining my project to various businesses requesting funds to support with little to no response.  I was able to get a couple of businesses to donate supplies and one of them donated laminating services, which was very helpful.  Once I saw where most of the money was going, I did find ways to cut costs.  My church allowed me to make color copies using their copier, as did Mike’s place.  This helped me cut down significantly on costs. I was able to raise money in my church to support Mike’s Place for next year.
My advice to anyone getting their gold award is to pick a subject that you really like and won’t get tired of. Most importantly never give up!

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