When Patricia Gallagher’s aunt was in a nursing home, she remembers the sound of the Wheel of Fortune television game show blaring from Aunt Mary’s room. Aunt Mary did not enjoy Bingo, crossword puzzles or any sort of hobby. And she was never fond of The Golden Girls, Name That Tune, The Price is Right or Jeopardy. But she was addicted to watching co-host Vanna White clapping exuberantly in her designer fashions. She had no passion for crocheting but was passionate about never missing an episode of “that handsome fellow Pat Zajak” on her favorite television show Wheel of Fortune.
Patricia Gallagher, of Chalfont, has been offering a variety of Reminiscence Activities for senior centers, retirement communities, and nursing homes for three years. She and daughter, Katelyn, recently added a new offering to their Stories for Seniors Program that promises to become a hit with the nursing home crowd.
“We thought that a lively game of Wheel of Fortune would meet the needs of the residents – lively, fun and stimulating.”
Katelyn’s fiancée, soon to be her husband jumped in to help with the idea. Nate Cavanaugh is employed by Display and Sign Center in Colmar. He made an impressive acrylic and true to life spinning wheel, a replica of the one that is popularly watched in millions of homes each evening. Then, he fashioned the words of 10 well-known sayings on a foam board with sparkly cards to hide the letters. Mission accomplished for Nate – a whooping and hollering activity for the seniors and another way to impress his future mother-in-law.
“Katelyn and I like to watch the friendly competition and the socialization that happens with the residents. This is an activity that brings together all levels of cognitive abilities,” Patricia said.
The audience is primarily women and Gallagher has found that they love prizes. Over the years, while doing her programs, she has distributed new and gently used stuffed animals as well as hundreds of gift bags donated by the readers of The Reporter. After an article appeared telling of OPERATION SECRET SANTA FOR NURSING HOME RESIDENTS, Lansdale area residents donated 312 holiday gift bags and decorated shoeboxes filled with gifts for the people living in local facilities.
For the Wheel of Fortune project, she wants to make every resident who participates feel like a winner. “Just like when kids leave a birthday party, they all get a treat bag or a party favor, I thought that it would be nice to give each resident a Wheel of Fortune treat or favor. For the little child in all of us, who doesn’t like to receive an unexpected present?”
She has a pretty Grab Bag that she would like to fill up with a variety of small gifts that can be given to the Wheel of Fortune “audience” as well as to the real winners.
“Dollar Store type items and any gifts that people want to re-gift would be very much appreciated. I think we all have items in our “junk drawer” that people have given us that we never used or no longer need. Note cards, a music box, holiday pins, costume jewelry, perfume, a new tube of lipstick, new eyeshadow, foundation, talcum powder, playing cards, simple puzzles, wrapped candy, sugar-less candy, Life-Savers, lotions and maybe even an article of clothing that still has the tag, would be a welcome gift for a nursing home resident. Nothing expensive, just new or very gently used inexpensive items that would make a resident feel special. If you just picture your own Aunt Mary, think about what would put a smile on her face.”
Sometimes, it is the little things that brighten a person’s day……like spinning a colorful wheel with a “whirring buzzing sound” and leaving the activity room with a new tube of lipstick, a pack of Life-Savers, or just the memory of being the one to guess the phrase FOR GOODNESS SAKE or FROM HERE TO ETERNITY!
Drop off location:
106 Heath Court
Chalfont, PA 18914
# 267 939 0365