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Susan Breen
02-13-2008, 03:33 AM
Part of my novel is set in a nursing home, and so one of the things I am doing to promote it is to go to various nursing homes and conduct writing workshops. But I'm trying to figure out what will work best. I don't think it will be that engaging to have me standing there, reading out loud. Will they be able to hear me okay? and follow what I'm saying? But writing involves being able to use your hands, and that might be a problem too. Anyone have thoughts on gentle interactive activities?

Mr Flibble
02-13-2008, 03:41 AM
OK. my parents are both in ill health. My mum's had a stroke, my dad's had heart surgery. They like the same stuff as anyone else in their genre.

They are still people. Seek to engage them as you would any other audience.
Some may be hard of hearing but most won't. Engage their imagination, same as you would 15 year olds, though the subject matter will be a little mores sophisticated I should think.

And most of all. Talk, talk talk.

eldragon
02-13-2008, 03:51 AM
I have spent years in nursing homes, and will have my nurses license next week!!!!

First, you'll need to locate the activities director at a facility. You can't just walk in these days, due to safety concerns. You'll have to have a background to volunteer to read to patients, and/ or participate in activities.

Having said that, I've seen activities that included reading certain things out of the newspaper - daily.

It keeps the residents informed, and promotes discussion.

Another thing is storytime - when you encourage residents to recall and talk about memorable events in their life.

Bingo is a big, as are working puzzles together (jigsaw) and watching old movies. Sing-a-longs, and if you play an instrument - go for it! If you have a super friendly pet that is vaccinated - you may bet permission to bring them along - many residents love pets! (Not rats, tried them...not good.)

Activity directors are desperate for new faces to read and interact with residents. Go for it!

eldragon
02-13-2008, 03:56 AM
Oh, also you might note that nursing homes have residents of all adult ages. People with chronic disease that they can't manage anymore, paralyzed victims, AIDS patients, gunshot victims - pretty much anything you can think of from rare nerve and muscle diseases to ? are there now. So your audience aren't just elderly people.

Also - I know a man who is in a nursing home now - because he is paralyzed from back surgery gone bad. He is in his early 60's and was a college math teacher. Anyway, he wrote a western novel and it was apparently published - and he got a pretty good advance!

I've met numerous people in nursing homes - from retired FBI agents to successful doctors and interior designers - you never know.

ishtar'sgate
02-13-2008, 04:26 AM
Part of my novel is set in a nursing home, and so one of the things I am doing to promote it is to go to various nursing homes and conduct writing workshops. But I'm trying to figure out what will work best. I don't think it will be that engaging to have me standing there, reading out loud. Will they be able to hear me okay? and follow what I'm saying? But writing involves being able to use your hands, and that might be a problem too. Anyone have thoughts on gentle interactive activities?
You might try having them divide up into small groups of 3 or 4, have them ask each other questions about their youth, then call 'time' and have them write a poem or short story based on the answers. As long as you make sure one person in each group can use their hands, they all get a chance to be creative and add to the story.
Linnea

Daehota
02-14-2008, 05:01 AM
I care for my 89-year-old mother, and it wasn't so long ago she wrote "My Story" whiich is just some reminisces of her childhood. I think she typed it on the computer though. She couldn't do that now, though. She's pretty much in bed. Mind's still sharp as a tack, though.

Now her ears are a different matter. She can't hear well at all. My father, before he passed last September, was even worse. They will try to let you think they are understanding and following your conversation, too, even when they don't. Be really patient (doc, heal thyself grin) cause it can get frustrating as heck.

If they can write, let 'em write. It would be fun to ask some specific questions about their youth...where were you when Pearl Harbor happened, etc., and see if that gets the memory juices flowing. My mom loves to reminisce and I think most people do.

You're probably going to be the best thing that's happened to them, if you play it right, since last month's polka band!

IceCreamEmpress
02-14-2008, 05:38 AM
Thirding or fourthing the advice to contact activity directors. They'll answer all your questions, including the age and demographics of their nursing home's population.

Don't forget Assisted Living Communities! They're designed for older people who are more independent than nursing home residents; they generally have activity directors as well.

I think that working with them on a short "free-writing" exercise about their own life experiences is probably the best way to go.

Also, when people are hard of hearing, it's as important to speak slowly and clearly as it is to speak loudly.

SHBueche
02-19-2008, 07:15 PM
I think you have a wonderful idea--go forth and let us know your results!

Pike
02-21-2008, 07:15 PM
Damn - beaten to the punch!

I've worked in nursing for almost twenty years and will resoundedly mirror the above posts. Working with the Act. Director will get you with a group that is interested in your project. Where I work it's a multi-tiered retirement community, so we've got everyone from active retirees to folks resting until their final days. The active community has their own writing group and many have either self-published or mass published memiors and past histories.

In the nursing home, there is small focus groups that deal with the day-to-day complaints as advocates, news hounds, a large exercise group, and many craft-related groups. They're a blast to work with!

My best advice is to reach out to them like they're your friends. I get more laughter and smiles when I crack a silly joke and make light of myself. It all goes down hill from there.

Kudos to you for venturing into a territory most people shy away from!

Pike