5 Brain Stimulating Activities for Alzheimer’s Patients

Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) is a progressive neurodegenerative condition that damages the nerve cells in the brain. It leads to a decline in cognitive abilities which in turn causes impaired judgment, confusion and memory lapses.

One of the ways to slow down the symptoms of AD is to keep the brain stimulated and involved. It can be done by getting involved in various activities like playing Sudoku, listening to music and cooking.

Listed below are a few fun activities that contribute to brain stimulation.

Listening to Music:

Music is a soothing activity for people with Alzheimer’s or other kinds of dementia. Music not only soothes them, it can also evoke nostalgia about a good time. For example, a senior may have trouble finding the right words to use, but be able to sing an entire song without interruption.

Music can also help manage symptoms of anxiety and loneliness. People with Alzheimer’s should be encouraged to get involved in music. It may be an area in when they can feel accomplishment and be encouraged by its melody.

Playing Games:

Several games like chess, Sudoku, and puzzles are proven to improve cognitive abilities. Putting together jigsaw puzzles can reinforce one’s problem-solving skills while daily crossword puzzles can be a low-stress workout for their brain.

The reason is pretty simple—games trigger mental stimulation that dementia patients need to stay engaged and alert while getting a good memory workout.

Playing games can also improve dexterity in seniors.

Keep these things in mind while choosing games for seniors with Alzheimer’s.

  • Games that promote hand-eye coordination through manipulation of various parts or pieces.
  • Games that improve mental retention through word-related activities.
  • Games that improve memory via pictures or verbal interaction.

Doing Household Chores:

The familiarity of being at one’s place gives a sense of stability and accomplishment, and for AD patients, this is important. Doing household chores like cooking, laundry and gardening can benefit them. According to a 2012 study published in the journal Neurology, even mundane or simple tasks can lower the risk of AD if they are performed frequently.

Opting for Art Therapy:

Art therapy is a useful practice for those suffering from degenerative diseases like  dementia, Alzheimer’s Disease, and depression.

Through this practice, patients are able to create an art piece that reconnects them with memory and lets them express themselves. Their artwork also serves as an effective tool to reassure their loved ones and caregivers that they still have the essence of the individual within them.

Art forms like painting, drawing, and modeling can boost self-esteem, increase attention span, recall memories, and enhance communication. This helps the patient honor their life story, while restoring and preserving their sense of self.

When integrated with reminiscence activities, art therapy shows the person that their story is engaging and valuable.

Making a Scrapbook:

Scrapbooking can be a highly enjoyable activity for elders with AD to do with their loved ones, and this hobby comes with several physical and mental benefits.

Putting together a scrapbook builds self-confidence as its easy, fun, and doesn’t require much assistance. Creating a project on their own helps them feel capable and accomplished.

Fun and creative activities like scrapbooking have been shown to reduce blood pressure and heart rate by distracting the mind and creating positive focus and calming thought flow. Scrapbooking also enhances dexterity, as it involves pasting, cutting and manipulation of the bits of fabric and paper.

We hope that you find these activity suggestions beneficial when sharing with and engaging your loved one. You can also consult their doctor, nurses, and caregivers for helpful suggestions in determining the right stimulating activities for your loved one.

Post contributed by Sofia Fox,  a passionate traveler, biker and an enthusiastic by heart. She is working with Affinity Home Care which provides in-home care services to aged group. She loves to write in her free time and chit chatting with like-minded people is her favorite pastime.

5 Strategies for Maintaining Community Connections While Aging

Community Connections for Seniors

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Aging in place may satisfy a senior’s desire for independence, but if they don’t maintain community connections, staying home could do more harm than good. While some seniors enjoy active social lives, others develop a fear of falling that keeps them home-bound more often than not. Our communities also affect seniors’ ability to stay engaged, with seniors suffering greater isolation in areas with poor walkability and limited community resources.

Staying engaged becomes much more difficult as we grow older, but it’s not impossible. With these strategies, seniors and their caregivers can avoid the isolation that comes with aging in place and enjoy better health while aging.

Move Downtown

Rural seniors have it harder when it comes to staying engaged. Isolation hits especially hard when rural seniors lose the ability to drive and can no longer get to their favorite activities. While moving isn’t without challenges, it’s easier for seniors to stay physically and socially active when they live in dense, walkable neighborhoods where everything they need is nearby.

When seniors need to move, it’s always better to do it sooner rather than later. Moving early in the senior years gives older adults an opportunity to form relationships and routines before the challenges of age catch up to them.

Downsize the House to a Manageable Size

Mundane tasks like cleaning the house can take a lot of energy as we get older. It’s understandable that seniors want to stay in a familiar home, but most seniors benefit from a downsized house that’s easier to move around and maintain.

Downsizing also saves money on housing costs. Even if a senior’s home is paid off, selling and buying a less-expensive home will provide a lump sum that can be used for senior care, healthcare, and other expenses. However, downsizing may not save as much money as a senior expects. Before diving seriously into the home-buying process, research home prices to get a clear picture of what you can afford and avoid sticker shock. For example, the median list price of homes in Huntingdon Valley is approximately $396,000.

Save Money with Alternative Living Arrangements

If a senior’s heart is set on an area but homes are not affordable, consider alternative living arrangements like home sharing. Sharing a home with a roommate reduces housing costs and combats loneliness for independent seniors. In some cases, a roommate may offer housekeeping or companion services in exchange for reduced rent and board.

Senior co-housing and cooperatives are other options. These communities combine private living spaces with communal facilities where seniors can connect with their fellow community members. Unlike assisted living, co-housing and cooperative communities are owned by the residents and cater to independent seniors, although residents may hire their own caregivers.

Connect with a Village

Villages are membership-based volunteer organizations designed to meet the needs of local seniors through volunteer services, service coordination, and social opportunities. While only a few communities have established villages, seniors can search for a local village organization or learn how to start a village at the Village to Village Network.

Stay Physically Active

Exercise helps seniors maintain their physical health so it’s easier to get out and enjoy life. Getting active is also a smart way to meet new people. Whether it’s a neighborhood walking group, a Zumba class (which only cost around $5 to $20 per session), or pick-up games at the local senior center, exercise allows seniors to mingle in a low-pressure environment.

Staying active also enables seniors to continue living independently. Physical exercise is the most important thing people can do to prevent Sarcopenia, the gradual muscle loss associated with senior frailty, among other age-related disabilities.

Aging in place presents many challenges, from remodeling the house for senior living to coordinating in-home care. While the challenge of senior isolation is often overlooked, it has a big impact on a senior’s ability to age in good health. By taking a community-minded approach, seniors can stay engaged, active, and independent throughout the senior years.

Post contributed by Hazel Bridges, the creator of Aging Wellness, a website that aims to provide health and wellness resources for aging seniors. She’s a breast cancer survivor. She challenges herself to live life to the fullest and inspire others to do so as well.

10 Fun Activities for Moms with Alzheimer’s

Elder Depot's List of Activities for Mother's Day for those with AlzheimersMother’s Day is about honoring and celebrating mothers.  When you have an elderly mother or grandmother with Dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease, Mother’s Day shouldn’t just be about purchasing and dropping off a gift; but rather creating lasting memories that you can remember and cherish with your mother.  Elder Depot wanted to share our list of simple, easy things that you can do to bring some happiness to your mother’s life on this special day and create a wonderful memory.  The good news is that most of these suggestions are free and only require sharing a little of your time!

Activities can vary depending on the stage of Alzheimer’s, so we tried to create a variety of common and simple things that you can both enjoy.  The most important thing to remember is that you will one day cherish and be thankful for all of the moments that you spent with your mother – taking the time to show you cared.

10 Things To Do on Mother’s Day

  1. Have lunch or dinner together.
    If mom is in a nursing or assisted living home and unable to leave, cook up a quick meal or pick up a pre-made meal and sit with her while eating so you can enjoy the moment together
  2. Celebrate as if it were her birthday.
    Put a single candle in a cupcake or piece of cake and sing her “Happy Mother’s Day”
  3. Take a walk or sit outside together.
    If the weather permits, bring your mom outside for a walk or just some fresh air and sunshine (Vitamin D) and bring up some old memories! If mom is in a facility and physically able, ask to borrow a wheelchair or transport chair to wheel her outside for a short time.
  4. Have an old fashioned beauty day.
    How about a nice pedicure! Paint mom’s nails or put some curls in her hair and show her how good she looks in the mirror!
  5. Look over some old photos.
    Conjure up some memories of familiar faces or times by showing an old photo album or memorable photos. Maybe even do a little Scrapbooking.
  6. Sing some old church hymns or familiar songs.
    If your singing skills are not up to the task, listen to some old familiar tunes together. Encourage mom to sing along and you might get a surprising response!
  7. Put together a simple puzzle.
    Puzzles with larger pieces are easier to see and handle and those with brighter colors may draw more interest.
  8. Bring the family dog for a visit.
    If your family dog is friendly and calm enough for mom to be comfortable around, bring the dog over for some one-on-one contact. If mom is in a facility that will not allow pets, see if you can take the dog to her in the lobby or bring your mom outside to spend some time with the dog – animals can be very therapeutic!
  9. Watch an old movie together.
    Pop in an old favorite movie, like the Sound of Music!
  10. Enjoy some gardening.
    If your mom used to enjoy gardening, let her sit outside with you and watch you do some of the gardening. If she is in a facility or this is not possible, bring in some flowers from your garden and cut the stems and organize the vase with your mom and she’ll have a beautiful home-made bouquet.

We hope this list provides you with some useful suggestions to make your Mother’s Day special. The most important thing to remember is to spend some quality time with your mother on Mother’s Day. Its not about the best gifts, but about the memories you will have for years to come.

From all of us at Elder Depot, we wish you and your family a very Happy Mother’s Day!

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