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OWLS – Cognitive Stimulation Programs

Sunshine Care Offers Classes to Provide Enrichment and Delay the Progression of Dementia

At Sunshine care, our cognitive stimulation program is entitled The Older Wiser Learners Society (OWLS). We created this program, because we believe that dignity goes beyond just providing quality housing and care for our Alzheimer’s and dementia residents. We encourage our residents to develop a sense of belonging in our community and maintain a sense of purpose even in the face of a difficult diagnosis.

Introducing the O.W.L.S. Program
The O.W.L.S. program offers ongoing, one-hour classes taught by a Certified Cognitive Stimulation Instructor, a program developed by Dr. Rob Winningham, Psychology & Gerontology Professor at Western Oregon University. Each class provides consistent structured stimulation for residents with early stage memory loss through hands-on projects, discussions, and other meaningful activities.

So, what exactly does a typical OWLS class look like? That really depends. Each class focuses on a different topic and includes a unique array of activities and exercises, each broken up into ten-minute segments so as not to over-tax the attention of participants.

Recently, a class topic was “U.S. presidents” in honor of the kick-off of the current election season. One of the class activities was to try to match famous quotes to the presidents who said them, (“Four score and twenty years ago…”). In another class, “Name That Tune,” participants discussed memories of the music they loved growing up and we listened to classic music clips together. Other activities may include:

    • Watching movie clips related to the topic
    • Sharing personal stories with the class
    • Journaling memories or opinions
    • Discussing new ideas related to the topic
    • Acting or reading short plays, stories, poems, and songs
    • Competing in friendly trivia, sports, math, and music games
    • Working on a project that benefits a chosen charity

Every activity is geared toward meeting one of our ten cognitive stimulation categories:

  1. Critical Thinking/Humanities/Arts and Culture
  2. Muscle Memory/Movement/Exercise
  3. Life-Long Learning
  4. Patterns & Sequencing
  5. Memories/Processing/Recall
  6. Everyday Logic/Math/Geography/Sciences
  7. Social Engagement/Self-Esteem
  8. Spiritual/Mental Health
  9. Civic Engagement/Citizenship/Community Service/Ambassadors
  10. Personal Preference/Connection to Traditions/Music & Memory