Programs and Ideas

One of the most exciting parts of our meetings hbooks-blueas been sharing the programs and ideas that libraries have been hosting – both in the libraries and in the communities with adult services and outreach staff.

A shout out to all those who watched our webinar on February 10, 2017. Here’s the RAILS (Reaching Across Illinois Library System) “Serving Patrons with Dementia” webinar presented by Tina Williams and David Kelsey link:


Thank you for all the support. We look forward to hearing from all of you and the great work you are doing!  ~Tina & David


PRINTABLE PDF: Programs and Ideas

Tales and Travel Memories

tales-and-travelTales and Travel Memories was developed by Mary Beth Riedner and Gail Borden Public Library. Tales and Travel Memories involves patrons going on an imaginary journey to countries around the world. Facts, folklore, souvenirs, pictures, props, music, and food are incorporated. The program is presented at long-term care and memory facilities.

Tales and Travel also has a Facebook page to continue the discuss and sharing of ideas. Search “tales and travel memories” on Facebook.

Kits: BiFolkal, Reminisce, Educational and Engagement

*NOTE: If you know of a company that sells these, please email us! We have had a lot of inquiries about purchasing a kit in lieu of building one.

bi-folkalLibraries nationwide use memory kit activities with patrons who have dementia. The Original BiFolkal Kits (1976-2016) incorporate handouts, music and singalong activities, feature skits, and props for patrons to view and touch. BiFolkal Kit themes include “Remembering Fall,” “Remembering School Days,” “Remembering the Depression,” and “Remembering WWII.”

Libraries are also designing kits to use for their patrons and senior facilities.

White Oak Library District has developed Reminisce Kits. The goal of these kits are to hit upon memories and open up a discussion. The kits feature items for patrons to pass around to touch – texture and memory provoking items from the 1920s to the 1970s. Kits recently created include: Camping & Great Lakes Vacations, Chicago, and the winter season.

St. Charles Public Library created four Educational and Engagement Kits around kitsspecific themes: movie stars, TV stars, music stars, and cooking. Each contains an informational booklet with facts, background history and photos, along with small objects that patrons may hold and examine. For example, “Remembering Movie Stars” features movie stars from the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s such as Marilyn Monroe and John Wayne. The objects in this kit are an Oscar statue, ruby slippers, pink opera gloves, and a fedora hat. Booklets are laminated and are in larger print. Each resident receives a booklet and follows along during the presentation given by Outreach Staff at long-term care and memory facilities.

Kits for Caregivers

caregiverSupporting caregivers is just as important as supporting individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Several libraries have Caregiver Kiosks which feature information, handouts, and brochures on caregiving, aging, Alzheimer’s disease, and dementia. The Caregiver Kiosk at St. Charles Public Library features ten newly-created Caregiver Kits which contain DVDs, CDs, and coffee table books. The kits are meant to be an enjoyable reminisce activity for a caregiver to use with someone who has memory loss. Themes include “Laughing with Lucy,” “Classic Comedy Shows,” and “Golden Broadway Musicals and Dance.”

Reading Programs

No matter your age, atticeveryone enjoys being read to! Reading to individuals with dementia, whether in a small group or individually, is an effective way to encourage engagement and conversation. Ela Area Public Library has hosted a successful Read-a-Loud program for over 20 years.

Music Activities


Libraries feature music programs for individuals with dementia such as music concerts and sing alongs. St. Charles Public Library hosts an annual holiday sing along at two assisted living facilities each December.

Patrons with memory loss who cannot recall their child’s name can often relate and remember music from when they were growing up. Last year at an assisted living facility, a professional singer was singing the classic 1950’s Doris Day song “Everybody Loves a Lover” from the movie Pollyanna. Patrons who were normally sedate were singing, tapping their toes, and having fun. They would have been up and dancing if they were able!

Animal Therapy

Animals often forge a special connectionrainbow with people who have dementia. You might have seen a resident pet at your local care or memory care facility. Facilities work with local therapy animal organizations or even hire pet coordinators. Libraries can work with therapy adognimal organizations and incorporate animals into their programs at facilities.

Libraries can purchase Memorable Pets for their collections. Memorable Pets and stuffed animals provide loving comfort, a sense of security and purpose, and are a therapeutic tool for nurturing and play. The stuffed animals are developed with input by geriatric specialists.

Memorable Pets is dedicated to educating and supporting those with Alzheimer’s. You can order direct or through Amazon. Check out this article from Reader’s Digest about their use too.

Gelman, Lauren. (2016). Memorable Pets for Alzheimer’s Patients. Reader’s Digest. Retrieved from:

Wagons: Antique and Vintage Items

Incorporating wagonvintage, antique, and retro items into programming inspires memories for patrons with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Visit your local antique store, thrift store, or flea market for materials and display them in a friendly, easy-to-find wagon. We originally heard about this idea from Deborah Gonzales of the Arapahoe Public Library during her presentation “Don’t Push the River” at the 2016 ABOS Conference.

TimeSlips: Creative Storytelling  

TimeSlips opens storytelling to everyone by replacing the prestimeslipssure to remember with the freedom to imagine.”

Storytelling and using imagination is an enjoyable activity for dementia patrons to encourage and foster memories, including life experiences and events, in a comfortable setting. During a TimeSlips program, library staff pass out pictures and images to dementia patrons, featuring people, nature, or the weather. The residents then create a story about the picture, such as the individual’s name, what they are wearing, or why it is raining outside. Library staff write the conversation down and repeat the story to residents.

TimeSlips offers training to librarians who are interested in using the program at their facilities and free pictures are available on the TimeSlips website. They also have informative and helpful videos featuring the program in action.


Stories for LifeStories-for-life-logo-web1_150x69

Stories for Life was featured in Library Journal in 2015 and developed by ‘Mover & Shaker’ and IGARD member Tysha Shay with the support of the Alzheimer’s Association. Stories for Life are kits that Tysha developed starting in 2012. They encourage learning, discussion, and sharing of life experiences with use of library materials (print, multimedia, games, sensory/visual/tactile stimulation materials).


Fidget Quilts

Fidget quilts and aprons feature bells, buckles, buttons, ribbons, zippers, and any manipulative to relieve the stress associated with Alzheimer’s disease and enFidget Quiltgage fine motor skills. Libraries can partner with area churches, sewing groups, or civic organizations to construct fidget quilts and aprons. Ask library staff and patrons to assist with the project.

Patchwork Posse describes the purpose of fidget quilts and how to construct one.


Gaming! (Coming Soon: Share Your Resources & Ideas)

*NOTE: If you have a success story using gaming with this population, please email us! 


More Ideas & Tools We Use:

Fold-N-Stow Bookholder: Check out these great book holders at Barnes & Noble for a great price!

Memory Care Café: Memory Care Café organizes informal meetings and social outings for people with ‘forgetfulness’ (Early-stage Alzheimer’s/dementia) and their care partners.

“Meet Me” The MoMA Alzheimer’s Project: Develops resources that can be used by museums, assisted-living facilities, and other community organizations serving people with dementia and their caregivers.

Rainbow Therapy Dogs: A volunteer organization committed to using the capabilities and magic of dogs in therapeutic environments.

Therapy Dog Organizations: Educational material for volunteers, screenings for volunteers and dogs, and liability insurance when a dog and handler are volunteering in a therapy setting.

Program Handouts:

St. Charles Library The Attic Travel in the USA – PRINTABLE PDF

St. Charles Library Remembering Movie Stars – PRINTABLE PDF

St. Charles Library Tales & Travel: Destination Egypt – PRINTABLE PDF

St. Charles Library Overview of Educational & Engagement Kits – PRINTABLE PDF

St. Charles Library Overview of Caregiver Kits – PRINTABLE PDF

Tinley Park Library Tales and Travel Spain – PRINTABLE PDF

Peoria Public Library Coral Reefs Narrative – PRINTABLE PDF

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s