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Senior Health

Here you will find informative articles on the topic of senior nutrition. Topics covered range from senior nutrition and weight loss to the relationship between BMI and quality of life for the elderly.

Mind-Stimulating Exercises for Seniors Living with Dementia

Cognitive activities for seniors with dementia may include completing meaningful memory exercises, sustaining social connections, partaking in activities of daily living (ADLs), and making modifications as needed.

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No matter the stage of Alzheimer's disease and dementia, dealing with and controlling the condition can be tough on close friends and family. Not to mention, those affected are also often struck with anxiety and frustration as they come to terms with cognitive decline.

Although experiences vary between individuals, there are shared cognitive activities for seniors with dementia to stimulate and embolden brain health while easing worry and fear.

While activities may be vary from person-to-person, the main idea is to keep the brain challenged. Doing so activates and stimulates processes proven to augment cognitive function and deter against mental impairments.

Cognitive Activities for Seniors with Dementia

Cognitive activities for seniors with dementia may include completing meaningful memory exercises, sustaining social connections, partaking in activities of daily living (ADLs), and making modifications as needed.

Meaningful Memory Exercises

Memory exercises are often associated to computer brain training, which may be an effective tool for preventing dementia. There are numerous brain-training games that are readily available with a simple click, including Luminosity and Brain Trainer.

However, unplugging from technology and connecting to reality is also beneficial, as making information meaningful through associations and prior knowledge shows to augment memory. Continuing hobbies is also a great way to continue meaning in life.

Examples of meaningful memory exercises may include:

• Reading a favorite book
• Storytelling, including role playing to help stimulate emotions and memories
• Recalling phone numbers
• Learning something of interest, including a new instrument or second language
• Retrieving and cooking a favorite recipe
• Learning the words of a song
• Being creative, including through painting and jewelry making
• Visiting museums
• Creating a scrapbook

Socialization and Cognition

Social connections, interactions, and communications with others help to keep the brain healthy. There are several activities for long-functioning seniors with dementia sustain a social life, including by:

• Playing a familiar card or boxed game with friends
• Taking a group dance class
• Signing up for local education classes
• Watching family videos
• Participating in activities at a senior center
• Reading aloud to grandchildren
• Taking a nature walk with family
• Reminiscing on old pictures with siblings

Activities of Daily Living (ADLs)

Completing of activities of daily living (ADLs) and other household chores not only can they benefit the brain through stimulation, but provide them with a sense of accomplishment, productivity, and purpose.

Though the ability to complete ADLs and other household activities varies from person-to-person, common examples include:

• Getting ready, involving showering, brushing teeth, and dressing
• Cleaning, including light sweeping, folding towels, and wiping the table following mealtimes
• Organizing, which can be as simple or difficult as preferred, and include sorting and organizing office supplies and other common household items
• Cooking, especially with others and fixing dishes to bring back good memories
• Gardening, which can likewise be therapeutic

Activities for Low-Functioning Seniors

No matter the stage of dementia, it is still important to try and keep the mind stimulating. And while the indicated exercises above can and may still be beneficial, they may benefit best with some modifications.

So rather than giving up activities that become difficult and overwhelming, try to modify the activity and/or break it down into manageable parts.

For instance, your loved one may have previously loved to bake, but gathering a heavy mixer and heating an oven may be of concern. Empower their self-efficacy but offering help, including by assisting in the mixing process and transferring the baked good to and from the oven.

Additional Tips

Though offering and participating in activities for adults with dementia is important to preserve brain function, it is important to explore other supportive methods. Additional ways to keep the mind sharp include:

• Offering both the brain and body rest, specifically ensuring at 7 to 9 hours of quality sleep nightly
• Consuming a well-balanced diet, particularly one rich in fruits and veggies, whole grains, lean and plant-based proteins, and healthy fat sources
• Exercising the body, which may involve aerobics and light resistance training
• Relieving stress, including through meditation

Ultimately, be patient during these brain exercises and dementia activity ideas. If one activity does not go as planned, move on to another or try again at a different time.

Do not let frustrations hither how stimulating and beneficial these activities can be. In bouts of weakness, stay strong and supportive for your loved one.

For further information and resources, check out the official Alzheimer's Association page.

Reference:
Wegerer J. 10 Stimulating Activities for Alzheimer's Patients. Alzheimer's.net.

Written By Sarah Asay, RDN. Published on June 27, 2016. Updated on February 19, 2019.

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