As we grow older, some memory loss is to be expected. However, for seniors and their caregivers, memory loss can be more than simply a frustrating experience. Severe memory loss can make regular daily activities more difficult to carry out, and one’s memory loss can do damage to one’s personal relationships. However, memory loss need not be an accepted part of getting older.
Some memory loss is simply due to age, while other types of memory loss are attributed to illnesses such as dementia or Alzheimer’s. No matter the source of the memory loss, there are some simple but enjoyable activities the elderly can take part in to keep one’s memory loss to a minimum.
- Listen to music
Music can be a healer. It expresses emotion, and it is tied to memory. When other facets of brain health fade due to dementia, musical aptitude and the appreciation of music continue to exist in one’s mind. Music has been found to help the elderly by bringing back long-term memories and boosting their emotional health too.
Family members or assisted living employees could make a CD or playlist with the individual’s favorite songs, or one can play the music that was popular during the affected person’s youth. For instance, for those who grew up in the 50s, music such as Fats Domino or Elvis Presley are great choices to offer their senior.
If the patient or family member reacts positively, you may be able to adapt your future music selections based on the artists initially chosen and the response those produced.
- Make a memory bag.
One may have to do a little investigating to get all the parts of the memory bag correct, but this activity is usually quite enjoyable for seniors experiencing memory loss. Find a large bag that the senior can remove items from easily. Next, speak with family members about favorite objects from their loved one’s youth or young adult life. These objects can be pictures, things that remind them of their career, or maybe a piece of sporting equipment (if they love baseball, you would place a baseball in the memory bag).
Keep in mind that scent is strongly tied to memory. If you can find out from family or friends a patient’s favorite scent, then lightly spray that scent on a few of the items in the bag.
- Make a family album.
You can work with an elderly patient or family member to create a family scrapbook. Many times, photos of loved ones can be soothing. Try to aim for a mix of pictures of new and older family members. Incorporating pictures of young grandchildren and great-grandchildren is a great way to prompt the elderly individual to talk about these family members.
As you cut and paste pictures into the scrapbook, be sure to write each family member’s name beside the picture. If the elderly patient can give you extra details about that person, such as their relationship to them, then make room for that also.
It’s a good idea to let the senior choose how to decorate the scrapbook. If one wishes to use glitter or stickers, then go for it!
- Take a walk.
Getting outside and taking a nice leisurely stroll is excellent for one’s physical and mental health. You can choose to walk in the senior’s own backyard (especially if there is a beautiful garden on the grounds) or you may want to go to the local park.
While you take the walk, begin a conversation about the things you see around you. If you can get the senior to talk about favorite plants or camping stories, all the better!
If you know the senior has (or once had) great knowledge of flowers, animals, or plants, then use this to spark conversation. Even if they do not get everything right (possibly mixing up two closely related species of flower), simply keep them talking.
- Gardening is a great idea for seniors with memory issues.
Seniors who spent years of their life gardening tend to hang on to that skill even when short-term memory loss is evident. If nothing else, see if the senior can plant a few tomato plants in a raised bed or a bed of succulents. Some assisted living facilities will allow for residents to have a small indoor herb garden.
Even if you simply provide a couple of houseplants for the senior to care for, this can provide the elderly patient with a lot of joy that comes from caring for something. It can provide focus, and watering or feeding plants helps to establish a routine.
- Learn about the senior’s skill set and encourage them to take that endeavor up again.
Some elderly were once great vocalists, talented instrumentalists, impressive artists, or skilled dancers. If you can find a skill the senior once enjoyed, encourage them to try their hand at that skill once again. Those in assisted living facilities can likely access a piano that is already on the grounds. If the senior once played the guitar or another smaller instrument, procure one and simply hand it over to the senior to see if they pick the skill back up. There have been incidences of those who played instruments years ago sitting down at a piano and picking out a piece from their youth perfectly.
- Encourage exercise.
Exercise has many health benefits, one of which is increased blood flow to the brain. Exercise has been shown to help slow cognitive decline and help to decrease restlessness in seniors with severe memory issues such as dementia.
- Introduce adult coloring books.
You have likely seen (or maybe even personally used) an adult coloring book. These coloring books encourage focus and decrease stress. In fact, these adult coloring books are known to promote a form of meditation.
Adult coloring books can assist your senior by decreasing anxiety such as those with dementia have been known to experience. Be sure to start with something simple.
- Bring a simple puzzle out.
Again, a puzzle is like an adult coloring book in that they encourage focus and decrease stress. Puzzles also help to exercise mental muscle. To learn more about senior care residences in South Florida contact us today.