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Colorado nonprofit works to engage Alzheimer's patients with sensory activities

Posted at 4:25 PM, Dec 20, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-20 19:23:21-05

CASTLE ROCK, Colo. -- Meghan Morrissey's mom battled Alzheimer's for a decade. During that time she went to four different assisted living facilities but something was always missing. Morrissey felt like they weren't doing enough to engage her mom and the other patients living there.

Three years ago she started the Sensory Outings Company with the goal of creating activities designed to engage Alzheimer's and dementia patients. Since then, the nonprofit has visited more than 45 assisted-living or memory-care facilities from Longmont to Castle Rock.

"I see joy and I see happiness and engagement," said Morrissey.

On Wednesday morning, Morrissey and a staff member visited a home in Castle Rock. The residents sat around the kitchen table doing a varies of activities -- including art, numbers games and matching up a deck of cards. She says the tasks provide sensory engagement and help with critical motor skills. 

"We all need a reason to live, and just because we wake up and are not sure who we are or where we are, that doesn’t mean that we shouldn't have something meaningful to engage in," said Brandy Hall, an Activities Specialist with Sensory Outings Company.

One of the residents sat quietly, precisely painting a coloring sheet and making it into a true work of art. He started the painting last time Hall visited but he didn't remember it.

"And I do realize that every day that I come to these homes, these residents value that [interaction] tremendously -- whether they realize exactly what it is that’s going on, it’s the emotion that they are incredibly aware of," said Hall.