It is no secret that physical activity on a regular basis is important for our mental and physical health. Routine exercise has been proven to improve the health of those already suffering from disease or disabilities, especially as we age. As the brain is a muscle, the mind works no differently. We tend to isolate our minds as we age causing memory loss, stress and anxiety, moodiness and sleep deprivation, loneliness, and impairment of overall health. In order to run a happy and healthy facility, it is important to keep your seniors active. Here are 3 fun activities/exercises that you could introduce to your senior clients.
1. Designated Game Night
You may have board games and puzzles available for free play, but as the saying goes, “out of sight, out of mind.” Make it a point to have a designated day of the week or month to facilitate game night. Here are a few helpful tips to creating your own party and how they are impactful to mental health.
a. Having it open to friends and family allows for seniors to stay emotionally engaged, but family is encouraged to maintain a stable support system for their loved one as well.
b. Provide activities such as board games, bingo or playing cards. Puzzles and word searches are especially great options for they improve brain development. Crossword and jigsaw puzzles increase memory functioning, stimulates logical thought process, and instructs problem solving.
c. Playing music is most impactful on the neurological functionings of the brain by manifesting a response from almost all parts of the brain. For example, the limbic system of the brain is triggered through emotions.
d. A light snack bar with finger foods consisting of healthy options
2. Paint and Play
Painting can be very therapeutic for physical and mental health. For someone who has difficulty communicating, whether brought on by a disability or simply being shy, painting is a creative outlet to express oneself through art. Here are some health benefits promoted by painting.
a. It strengthens the fine motor skills by encouraging synchronized hand to eye coordination.
b. Promotion of alpha brain waves, which are known to boost creativity and imagination while decreasing depression and anxiety. This is especially good for those with Alzheimer’s disease, with a loss of memory, imagination can go a long way.
3. Face Painting
Thought to be a kid friendly activity, you would be surprised how many of your clients get excited over face painting. For some, it may just be for fun, but for anyone suffering from disorders such as dementia or Alzheimer’s will have the same appreciation as that of a child. It is not that Alzheimer patients “revert to childhood” but rather relate to more “childish behavior.” As the disease progresses, the brain begins to degrade, forgetting those lessons that took a lifetime to learn. For some in the deep stages of the disease, the mind is comparable to that of a child. Allowing for activities such as face painting bring as much happiness to an elderly person with Alzheimer’s as it does to children.
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