The number of Alzheimer's and dementia cases is increasing in the United States, which means that more challenging decisions are having to be made by the children of those who have been affected.
According to studies, more than 6 million Americans have Alzheimer's disease. This number is projected to rise to 13 million by the year 2050. Additionally, 12.7 million people ages 65 and older are predicted to have the disease by that same year.
- One in nine people who are age 65 or older has Alzheimer's dementia.
- Nearly two-thirds of Americans with Alzheimer's are women.
While some will choose to care for their loved one at home, others are helping their loved one choose a senior living community. In either situation, it's key to keep a person with dementia engaged and challenged. It's beneficial for both their bodies and minds to stay active, which can also help reduce sleep issues.
Below is a list of eight activities that staff in senior communities such as Maine Veterans' Homes engage in with their residents and that individuals who are caring for loved ones at home can try.
Exercise and Activities
- Chair exercises can be a good choice for people with limited mobility. Besides engaging in traditional exercise, try tossing small, light props, such as a plush basketball or beach ball. You can even put on some music and dance!
- Move with our loved ones. Take a walk with them: enjoy where you are and take your time. Slow marching is another good exercise for those with dementia. Marching encourages joint health and, because of its simplicity, is confidence-boosting for your loved one.
- Listening to music is soothing to many nursing home residents, and it helps them remember their youth and the good memories that are evoked by music.
- If your loved one has always liked to work on house projects, he or she may find it engaging in sorting through and matching nuts and bolts or tightening screws into pieces of wood. Sorting of items, in general, is also suggested: coins, jelly packets, etc.
Social and Emotional Activities
- Pets can serve as a lifeline to a person with Alzheimer's disease. For instance, maybe they're relating to the people in their life, but as soon as a cat, dog, bird, or other animal is introduced, they light up and become engaged in loving and caring for the animal.
- As we've noted, music can be soothing for those with dementia. Singing, too, is a benefit. It encourages happiness, triggers memories, and helps them feel connected to others.
- Gardening is not only a form of exercise in disguise, but seniors who grow and tend to a garden are more likely to want to eat the fruits and vegetables that they grow. Maine Veteran's Homes offers raised garden beds for those in wheelchairs and those who find bending down a challenge.
- Bird watching is another activity that those with dementia enjoy immensely. For some, it's soothing and therapeutic, while for others, it's exciting to spot new species of birds as the seasons change. All MVH locations have several bird feeders on campus, often right outside a resident's window.
Maine Veterans' Homes has trained and certified activities and recreation therapy staff who develop programs such as these to keep your loved one engaged. Staff work with families to help them identify activities they once enjoyed and to find new passions.
About Maine Veterans' Homes
With six Homes throughout the state, Maine Veterans' Homes offers care for Veterans, their spouses, and Gold Star parents. To help you choose a residence for your loved one, download our free guide, Steps to Choosing a Senior Community >>>