Staying active is one of the most important factors in maintaining physical and mental health
As human beings it is in our nature to want to feel a sense of purpose in our everyday lives, keeping ourselves occupied and avoiding boredom. This carries through right into old age, with physical and mental stimulus becoming evermore important as a means to improve and preserve general health and wellbeing. Here are some ideas to get you started.
Gentle exercise is great for helping with joint mobility and keeping the heart in check, and is even better when done outside in the fresh air. Oxygen is after all the best brain food. There are so many games available now that have been especially created for elderly people and those with dementia and Alzheimer’s. Or you could get creative and make your own. Go the extra mile and host your very own Olympics.
Yoga and meditation have long been used to nourish body, mind and soul, and can be adapted to anyone and everyone’s own physical and mental capabilities. Introducing this to residents just once a month can prove very rewarding and there are instructors who specialise in working with elderly people. Make it a multisensory experience with some gentle coloured lights and relaxing music.
Creativity ticks so many boxes that it should always be encouraged. Plus the possibilities are endless! A simple activity such as painting can be made into a real sensory experience when done to music, or by using hands and feet instead of brushes. Scrapbooking is absolutely brilliant for anyone who struggles with memory, and can be made into an on-going project. Residents can document people and places with visual triggers such as photographs, postcards, tickets, pressed leaves etc. Include a timeline for their daily routine.
Music is one of the strongest forces known to trigger memory and emotion. It is also a truly great form of therapy in every sense. Even those hard of hearing can benefit from vibrations and certain frequencies.
Basic percussion instruments are ideal for giving people the opportunity to express themselves through rhythm and sound, both alone and together as a group. Combine it with singing for the ultimate feel-good factor. Or, find some pieces of music with sentimental value for people to listen to.
There are many simple ways to reinvigorate the senses that can be made into light-hearted games. Try filling cups and bowls with aromatic and tactile things, such as coffee beans, flower petals, jelly, spices and dry grains, then having people guess them whilst blindfolded.