Activity 7A: Universe of Function

Use the "Universe of Function" student worksheet to demonstrate, label, and define categories of Basic, Instrumental, and Discretionary activities. Demonstrate on the overhead that functions flow outward by drawing arrows. Make the analogy that humans are like astronauts in a rocket, blasting off from planet Earth (Basic), moving through the Earth's atmosphere (Instrumental), and finally to explore deep space (Discretionary).

Students label their own "universe," then brainstorm and write in activities they do that would fit each category. Which basic activities can they perform? What activities will they need to include in the instrumental ring in order to function on their own? How can they extend further into the discretionary ring? (The discretionary ring can/will be futuristic.) Have students share completed "universes" with the rest of the class.

Use the "Universe of Function" worksheet to illustrate the effects of dementias on functional ability. As the students grow and become adults, their "universes" expand. When a person has a dementia such as Alzheimer's disease, the "universe" tends to shrink back into the basic, until eventually the person loses their basic skills. High school teachers may want to have the students read and interpret Shakespeare's, As You Like It, Act II, scene 7, lines 139-166. This is Jaque's speech on man's "seven ages," which illustrates the growing and shrinking of the "universe of function." In this speech, the elderly lose "teeth, eyes, taste, and everything." You can use this in the context of dementias (losing the cognitive functions), or as a comparison of medical developments (from Shakespeare's time to today), stressing that aging today does not mean that you will lose your teeth (improved oral health practices and fluoride) or eyes (corrective lenses and surgeries).


Universe of function, activities of daily living, Shakespeare, health promotion, brainstorming, dementia

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Activity Code: 
Unit Reference: 
It's All in Your Mind
Lesson Reference: 
Lesson 7: The Universe of Function