If your parent or loved one has a memory impairment, it can be emotionally challenging at times. It is hard to see someone you care deeply about forget cherished memories, or even more difficult, forget who you are.
Brickmont Assisted Living, with memory care services offered throughout Georgia, wants to be a resource to you and your family as you navigate dementia care.
Alzheimer’s, dementia, or any other form of memory impairment shouldn’t impede or prevent your parent or loved one from continuing a fulfilling and happy life. Creating a lifestyle full of activities and socialization is essential to maintaining and promoting mental health.
Socialization and Mental Stimulation
Social stimulation is beneficial at any age, but research has shown that social interaction can decrease a person’s risk of depression, health issues such as Alzheimer’s disease, and even mortality.
Studies have suggested that high levels of socialization can help prevent cognitive decline. According to research conducted at Rush University Medical Center, “it turns out that visiting friends, attending parties, and even going to church might be just as good for you as crossword puzzles.”
During their study, they discovered that socialization stimulates the brain and may help delay cognitive decline. For those dealing with a memory impairment, it’s important to not overwhelm or place him or her in an unfamiliar setting. Instead, set up a weekly dinner at your parent or loved one’s home with a few close family members or neighbors. However, even one-to-one interactions can be beneficial and promote mental stimulation.
Researchers from the Cochrane Library found that mental stimulation helped improve memory and thinking test scores for those with dementia. Here are a few activities that can provide mental stimulation, as well as an opportunity for you to bond with your parent or loved one:
Baking and Cooking - Let your loved one take the lead on following a recipe. Thinking through measurements or completing basic cooking tasks can strengthen cognitive function, and yield delicious, homemade treats or food!
Arts and Crafts - Arts and crafts are perfect for those with memory impairment because these activities focus on the use of motor skills, hand-eye coordination, and the mental stimulation from getting the creative juices flowing.
Watch Family Videos or Review Old Photos - Watching family videos or going through old photos allows your parent or loved one to focus on recalling past events or recognizing family members.
Brain Teasers or Puzzles - Puzzles and brain teasers are designed to be mentally stimulating activities, as crosswords, word searches, and other similar games promote critical thinking skills.
Many activities can stimulate the mind while providing additional health benefits. If your parent or loved one engaged in a specific activity prior to their diagnosis, we suggest incorporating it into their daily or weekly routine.
At Brickmont Assisted Living, we understand the value that socialization and mental stimulation have on older adults. Our memory care services focus on providing our residents with the care they deserve in an intimate environment that offers ample opportunity to socialize and engage in meaningful experiences.
Exercise and Physical Activity
Exercise is important during every stage of life, even after developing a memory impairment. Physical activity and exercise can help:
Physical activities are perfect for doing with your parent or loved one because you both can reap the benefits. One such activity would be gardening, which places you and your loved one outdoors. Being outside helps improve our airways, gives us more energy, and can make us feel happier.
For those 65 years and older, the recommended amount of physical activity, as suggested by the World Health Organization (WHO), is 150 minutes of moderate-intensity every week.
Make a Life Story Box Together
A beneficial and emotionally rewarding activity you and your parent can do together is to create a Life Story Box. It allows you to collaborate and compile things that have significant meaning to your loved one throughout their life.
At Brickmont Assisted Living, we keep these boxes outside of each resident’s apartment to help them recognize their space. Useful items to include in your Life Story Box are photos of friends and family, small trinkets, keepsakes, memorabilia, notes, and even lists. You can also use these items to build a scrapbook together.
Any activity that allows your loved one to reminisce on their life yields healthy mental stimulation. Reminiscence therapy is growing within our industry. “Reminiscence therapy is a nonpharmacological intervention that improves self-esteem and provides older patients with a sense of fulfillment and comfort as they look back at their lives (Nursing2020).”
Sensory stimulation is a strong key to this form of therapy. Things such as food, scents, music, and even movement and dance can stimulate strong reactions and trigger stronger memories.
No matter what activity you participate in together, it can be beneficial. If you can stir up their memories and bridge the connection from the past to the present, it will help their overall cognitive function and lessen their anxiety and irritability. Other tips for helping to calm an irritable loved one are to go on a car ride, sing songs, go on a walk, watch television, listen to the radio, or interact with animals or pets. Just remind yourself to be supportive and stay flexible with various techniques. The same activities do not work for everyone.
Brickmont knows it takes dedication and supervision to ensure the safety and happiness of your parent or loved one with memory impairments. Our memory care staff is dedicated to enhancing our residents’ lives. We know that each resident is affected by memory loss in their unique way, and our highly trained staff adapts to each individual's needs.
Our Silver Linings Memory Care program promotes physical and mental stimulation. Our calendars are full of activities that help improve the overall quality of life for each resident, and our innovative approach to memory care provides residents with a safe, secure environment. Our usage of It’s Never 2 Late (IN2L) technology offers residents tools that help them to engage and connect.
Brickmont Assisted Living’s memory care neighborhoods also utilize a Snoezelen Room or a specially crafted room that is used to soothe and relax residents. We use scents, music, light, and sound to create a therapeutic environment. This room can be used to help a resident calm down or as a relaxing and soothing spot to visit your parent or loved one.
To learn more about our communities or approach to memory care, we encourage you to contact Brickmont Assisted Living.
This blog was updated on May 15th, 2020