For older adults living with Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia, staying involved and engaged in meaningful activities is essential. Not only do activities stimulate the brain and help to reduce common dementia behaviors like wandering, but they may also boost mood and enhance one’s quality of life.
In memory care assisted living communities, purposeful activities are part of daily life for residents with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia. Dedicated life enrichment coordinators are responsible for organizing special programs and activities that help to preserve residents’ cognitive skills and promote a sense of pride, purpose, and well-being.
But what are the best activities for older adults with dementia, and how are they implemented in today’s memory care assisted living communities? Here’s a closer look:
Exercise offers a number of benefits for the body and mind, no matter our age. Regular physical activity helps to improve strength, stamina, coordination, and balance. Exercise may also increase blood flow to the brain, which research finds may help to prevent age-related memory loss and have a positive impact on the brain health of those who have Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias.
For older adults in the mild to moderate stages of dementia, some easy, low-impact exercises include walking, chair yoga, Tai Chi, and light weight lifting. In memory care assisted living communities, residents have opportunities to participate in low-impact fitness classes and activities with supervision from supportive, knowledgeable staff.
Arts and crafts
Over time, Alzheimer’s and other dementias can gradually impact a person’s communication and language abilities. But studies have found that creative activities—such as painting, drawing, coloring, knitting, scrapbooking, quilting, and sculpting—provide an outlet for self-expression among those who have trouble communicating. Researchers suggest that art allows Alzheimer’s patients to access parts of the brain that language doesn’t, helping them share their thoughts and feelings in an entirely new way.
Art is also a powerful way to stimulate the senses, improve mood, reduce stress, and promote a sense of purpose and accomplishment. With so many incredible benefits, it’s not surprising that art therapy and other creative activities are frequently offered in memory care communities.
Puzzles, games, and other types of “brain training” activities may help to boost cognitive function and potentially slow the progression of age-related cognitive decline. The social aspect of playing games and puzzles can also encourage brain stimulation and bolster one’s cognitive abilities. For this reason, memory care assisted living communities will encourage residents to participate in brain exercises in the form of fun games and puzzles.
Music is well-known for its soothing effects and ability to evoke memories. For decades, people have benefitted from music therapy, which uses musical interventions to address physical, mental, and emotional needs. In a Stanford University study on music therapy, researchers found that music stimulates areas of the brain that increase blood flow. Older adults in the study who participated in music therapy even showed improved performance on cognitive tests. Many memory care assisted living communities offer regular music therapy for residents, which may include listening to music, singing, clapping, and even playing simple instruments like drums, bells, or tambourines.
As you can see, there are plenty of stimulating activities and hobbies that can help to boost quality of life for adults with dementia. Ultimately, the best activities are those that result in enjoyment and confidence.