Total Engagement

Activities for Growth and Expression in Older Adults, Second Edition

By Pamela Atwood, M.A., CDP, and Thomas Atwood, PT

ISBN 978-1-938870-94-1
7 x 10 paper
204 pages
© 2020


Product Description

2021 National Mature Media Awards Winner logoOne of the secrets to well-being in our later years is continuing to remain engaged with life through meaningful activities. Total Engagement promotes successful aging and life satisfaction with a unique collection of activities created to stimulate growth, curiosity, and enjoyment through self-discovery and creative expression.

Designed especially for older adults as well as adults with special needs, the holistic activities in this book help strengthen physical and cognitive abilities, often both at the same time. They promote well-being by meeting essential human needs for physical, mental, and emotional engagement, and they recognize the supporting role of the environment and social connections in fulfilling these needs.

Focusing on the unique benefits derived from the expressive arts—including dance, drama, music, language arts, and visual arts—these 71 innovative activities:

  • transform familiar routines in novel and enjoyable ways
  • can be adapted to the needs, interests, and abilities of participants
  • include “Connections” to other expressive arts for 140 more creative variations
  • offer the chance to try new experiences in a supported environment
  • stimulate neuronal activity in the brain
  • improve physical strength, coordination, and flexibility
  • accommodate individual age-related limitations
  • incorporate technology, multisensory stimulation, and intergenerational options for added enrichment

Activity professionals and nonprofessionals within congregate care or community settings can learn how to facilitate activities that help adults resist becoming disengaged due to losses associated with aging or disability and enjoy the satisfaction and success of remaining engaged, flexible, and resilient in late life.

What makes an activity holistic?

A finger-stretch exercise promotes joint flexibility and fine motor skills, but the same result is achieved with a knot-tying activity that is more interesting and engaging because it:

  • is tactile
  • produces a satisfying result
  • creates a new skill
  • promotes procedural memory and problem solving
  • fosters neuroplasticity

Directory of Activities and Connections
About the Authors


  1. Gross and Fine Motor Skills
  2. Balance
  3. Spatial Awareness
  4. Walking and General Exercise


  1. Inner Peace and Coping
  2. Reminiscence and Life Review
  3. Generativity and Wisdom


  1. Cognitive Games
  2. Visual/Spatial Orientation
  3. Patterns and Sorting
  4. Creative Thinking


  1. Plants and Pet Care
  2. The Great Outdoors
  3. Feng Shui/Living Space


  1. Family, Friends, and Neighbors
  2. Civic and Community Action
  3. Spirituality and Religion

APPENDIX—Music Suggestions
Figure Credits

Total Engagement (EXCERPT) by Health Professions Press on Scribd

Pamela AtwoodPamela Krist Atwood has worked with older adults professionally since 1989, and in 2001 earned a master’s degree in Gerontology and Human Development from University of Saint Joseph in West Hartford, Connecticut. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts, which is where met Tom. Pam is accredited through the National Council of Certified Dementia Practitioners. In 2010 she became a Certified Laughter Leader through the World Laughter Tour, Inc.

Pam started Atwood Dementia Group/Live Laugh Learn LLC in 2019 to support families and organizations who care for people living with neurocognitive disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease. Prior to that she was Executive Director at the senior living community Colebrook Village in Hebron, Connecticut, and previously was a member of the senior management team at Hebrew Health Care in West Hartford. Her favorite job is being wife to Tom, and mommy to Tom Jr. and Charlotte Frost Atwood. Pam also loves singing.

Thomas AtwoodThomas Richardson Atwood, Sr., PT, specializes in what he calls “geriatric sports medicine.” As a licensed physical therapist, he believes that rehabilitation of older adults should go beyond functional goals to maintain the highest functional level and lifestyle possible. Tom is an outpatient therapist who worked in assisted living services, home care settings, and outpatient therapy offices. He is a skilled manual therapist with expertise in neurological and orthopedic conditions. Tom received his bachelor’s degree from Clark University and graduated from the University of Hartford’s physical therapy program in 2000.

Tom founded Better Balance Physical Therapy in 2016 to provide wellness and therapy services to clients in their homes or in community centers. He holds several certifications, including Certified Dementia Practitioner; Ageless Grace Brain Health fitness class instructor; clinical certification in Lee Silverman Voice Therapy (LSTV); BIG program for treatment of Parkinson’s and related disorders; Titleist Performance Institute (TPI) for golf rehabilitation and movement enhancement; and certified instructor in the Tai Ji Quan: Moving for a Better Balance approach.

Tom’s speciality is balance and fall prevention. Since 2002, he has worked with the Connecticut Collaboration for Fall Prevention, a consortium of clinicians and researchers from Yale University and other colleges, hospitals, and health organizations. Tom presents lectures of fall prevention techniques for professionals in organizations and health centers that provide care for older adults, and he enjoys helping older adults overcome their fear of falling in order to minimize their risks.

Being superdad is his favorite activity. His late mother, Dorothy (a talented architect from Boston), made sure he had great talents for cooking and clearing/organizing (thanks, Dorothy!). Between kids’ activities and work, Tom enjoys tai chi, bike riding, woodworking, solving puzzles, and trying to beat Pam at cribbage.


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