Keeping Seniors with Alzheimer’s Active and Engaged in Life

Author: Teresa Nelson

Just the thought of a senior loved one developing Alzheimer’s or dementia can be frightening. We have pretty much been told nowadays that Alzheimer’s reduces people down to nothing more than a shell of what they used to be. Family and caretakers often feel they have to just stand by and watch their loved one slip away.

Memory loss is often the first sign of Alzheimer’s and dementia, followed by inability to reason through things, express thoughts and feelings, and feelings of immense sadness or frustration. The good news is that there ARE things you can do to help your senior loved one have a better quality of life by staying engaged and active!

Being isolated and withdrawing from social activities is quite common, so keeping them active and surrounded by friends and family can make a huge difference, even if it seems you aren’t getting anywhere. In this article, we want to offer great tips to improve the quality of life during dementia and Alzheimer’s. Following these ideas can help your senior loved one feel valued and secure. Shared activities and staying stimulated mentally will help more than you might realize!

6 Tips for Keeping Seniors Stimulated

Play Music and Sing Songs
Music is often retained far better than most other things, so you can sing favorite songs or play familiar music. Use music to stimulate memories and reminiscing as you listen together. Music often sparks wonderful memories and that will keep your loved one thinking and articulating.

Do Arts and Crafts
Engaging in art or other creative activities encourages self-expression, good conversation, and mental stimulation. Adult coloring books, painting, or creating a collage of favorite things are just a few of the ways you can be crafty. Art is also a serene activity and brings peace and quiet.

Remember that some arts or hobbies might become difficult as the disease advances, so you may need to modify them so they stay enjoyable. For instance, if your older adult loved to knit or crochet before the onset of dementia, help them continue to enjoy it by providing them with short projects that are super easy.

Work on Household Chores
Though it may seem strange to you, seniors with dementia and Alzheimer’s crave structure and feelings of accomplishment. Allowing them to help with cleaning or other chores around the house can boost self-esteem and help them feel valuable. It represents normalcy, and that is priceless for someone struggling with a condition that robs them of that.

Work Puzzles and Games Together
This is a wonderful way to keep the mind engaged while using reasoning and critical thinking skills. They may not be able to play games with a tough strategy any longer, but simple card games and puzzles keep your loved one’s mind busy. Remember also, that larger print is available for things like crossword puzzles, so it’s easier to see and enjoy.

Reminiscence Together
With dementia, it’s most often short-term memory that is lost, while distant memories from years gone by remain clear as day. They may not know what they ate for breakfast that day but can tell you all about family history and stories.

A great way to stay connected is to ask lots of questions as you look through photo albums and scrapbooks together! This can be very enjoyable and special for everyone involved! Grab a paper and pen and start writing things down as they recount stories and memories. It’s time you can’t get back and also time you will hold very dear in the years to come.

Exercise Regularly
Getting some form of exercise helps with everything from staying healthy and fit, to helping to slow the progression of memory loss or cognitive function. Being active can also help with staying connected to friends and family if done together. Taking walks with loved ones, going to a dance class or doing yoga with a loved one are all ways that you can enjoy time well spent while also taking care of the physical body. If the person has limited mobility, consider doing chair aerobics or other modified exercises.

For more information about how to keep seniors with dementia and Alzheimer’s engaged in life, contact us today!

Home Helpers of Eastern Idaho is a locally-owned, trusted home health care agency and offers quality, compassionate senior in-home care services including home care assistance, personal care, companion care, respite care, 24-hour live-in care, Alzheimer's & dementia care, Parkinson's care as well as homemaker services in Pocatello, Chubbuck, Blackfoot, American Falls, Soda Springs, Aberdeen, McCammon, and Lava Hot Springs, Idaho.

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