The staff and volunteers of the Day Program are constantly thinking up new activities to engage participants while offering a variety of therapies for both body and mind. Recently, noting that there were a number of participants speaking either English only or Spanish only, one of the program participants requested language classes.

Since we care for a large population, many with varying degrees of dementia, language learning has not been something we had thought of before. However our team, undaunted, decided to give it a try and the outcome has been quite surprising. This from Veronna, the program coordinator:

“The idea of Bilingual Basics class started after a Community Meeting we held with both English- and Spanish- speaking participants who expressed mutual interest in learning how to greet one another and have simple conversations,” said Rosa Paramo, one of our PCC Leads who started teaching the classes. Now Denise Araujo is carrying the torch while Rosa is on maternity leave. Denise has assembled homework booklets in both languages for participants to work on at home, thus providing a great activity tool for care partners to use at home.

We are now seeing English-speaking participants going up to the Latino participants and greeting them! Denise has also noticed that when the class begins, they are now sitting together as opposed to sitting on separate sides of the room. Once offered twice a month, the class has grown to weekly Friday afternoon sessions so that the participants have more consistent class time.

I really think this is a great example of a participant idea, developed into a regular class therapeutic short-term memory benefits.”

Again, a reminder that people with dementia have lives to live.