active lifestyle

Ways to Stay Mentally Active as a Senior

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Staying mentally active as we grow older is just as important as staying physically active. Mental activity increases the amount of blood, nutrients and oxygen in the brain and slows cognitive decline, which is associated with dementia. Whether your senior loved one is still living at home or has moved into an assisted living or nursing facility, there are several ways to keep their minds active.

Social Interaction

Don’t underestimate the power of conversation. Talking with someone keeps your brain as active as working a crossword puzzle. Interacting with people not only helps to stimulate the mind, it can also improve your mood. If your loved one lives at home, it’s important that they stay busy socially. Visiting with a neighbor, going to church, or joining a senior group can provide interaction with other people and keep your loved one from feeling lonely or getting depressed.

If you live nearby, your loved one will enjoy frequent visits from you as well. Instead of sitting with them in silence or in front of the TV, engage them in meaningful conversation. If they have photo albums, look through them together and encourage them to talk about what was happening in the pictures. If neither of you know much about your family tree, research your ancestry together online and discuss what you find. Or if cooking has always been a big part of your family’s history, look through old recipes and compile a family cookbook, discussing what dishes were served on which occasions and remembering holiday get-togethers and family celebrations.

Activities and Hobbies

Creating something can also be mentally stimulating. These activities will keep both the mind and hands active:

Grow something: Tending to a garden may be too difficult for your loved one, but there are many things they can grow in a container that can be kept on a table or counter. If they like to cook, encourage them to grow an herb garden. Or have them create a fairy garden with small plants and accessories in a glass container.

Quilting or sewing: Creating something with fabric and thread requires reading instructions and following a pattern. And when it’s done, your loved one will have something to display or give to a friend or family member.

Paper crafts: Scrapbooking is a fun hobby that involves creating pages with photos, journaling, and embellishments. If the senior doesn’t want to create something from scratch, they may enjoy coloring with colored pencils or markers in one of the hundreds of adult coloring books available.

Keep a pet: Animal lovers may enjoy keeping a small pet. Encourage them to read about the different pets that can be kept in a container and decide if one would be a good fit for them. A small tank of fish or a low-maintenance lizard or turtle can give your loved one something to care for on a daily basis. If they live in an assisted living facility or apartment, make sure small pets are allowed.

Community Service

Helping others is always rewarding, regardless of your age, and there are always organizations looking for help. Your loved one can crochet hats for preemies, knit mittens or scarves for the homeless, or create gift baskets with baby essentials for new mothers. If they live in a retirement home or assisted living facility, they may enjoy making centerpieces for the tables in the dining room or crafting ornaments for the community Christmas tree.

Encourage your senior to stay mentally active by suggesting some of the above options and taking the time to enjoy a hobby, service project, or conversation with them. It will help to keep your mind stimulated too!

 

 

Keeping Your Senior Loved One Active

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As people grow older, their lives tend to slow down. They no longer have children to raise or full-time jobs to go to every day, and they may even have downsized from the family home to an apartment or condo. But that doesn’t mean they should become completely inactive. Here are some reasons why it’s important to keep your senior loved ones active and some ideas of things to do and places to go.  Always keep in mind that in order to keep your senior safe,  be sure they check in with their doctor before starting any new type of exercise or increasing the intensity level of a current routine."

The Benefits of Staying Active Later in Life

Being active later in life provides many of the same benefits as being active earlier in life. It can improve a person’s mood and lower their risk for diabetes, heart disease, obesity, certain cancers. It can increase strength, mobility, and bone density, and promote healing, all of which become even more important later in life. Those who become sedentary as they age may be unsteady on their feet and have difficulty breathing and poor blood flow.

Safe Exercise for Seniors

Seniors may not be able to exercise the way they used to, but there are many safe ways for them to get some exercise in on a regular basis. Many senior centers, assisted living facilities, libraries, and parks and recreation departments offer gentle yoga. Yoga can be altered to fit any fitness level – including doing the entire session while seated in a chair – and it helps keep joints and muscles flexible and strong without much physical exertion. Although not as readily available, water aerobics is a great way to get a little more of an aerobic workout without putting undue stress on joints and bones.

Take a Walk Somewhere New

Walking is the easiest, most cost-effective type of exercise for someone of any age. It can be done virtually anywhere and at any pace. To make walking more interesting, go somewhere different instead of treading the same path every time. Places to walk that provide mental stimulation and a relatively flat surface include:

·         Public gardens and conservatories

·         Art or natural history museums (many of which are free)

·         Indoor or outdoor shopping malls

·         Local craft fairs or art festivals

·         Guided factory tours

·         Public libraries (many have special exhibits to view as well as books and magazines)

Fun Things to Do That Require Less Walking

If your loved one cannot walk long distances, there are many activities that require minimal walking, but still give them an opportunity to move a little bit and maybe experience something new.

Train or boat ride – These types of excursions can be great for seniors because they can walk to the boat or train, then rest while they enjoy the ride. Many of these trips are just for a couple hours or half a day and may include lunch or dinner.

New restaurant – You can exercise your senior’s taste buds too by taking them to a new restaurant. It can serve food they’re familiar with, but with a twist, or you can introduce them to a completely new type of cuisine. For a little more exercise, take a stroll through the neighborhood after dinner or walk to a local ice cream shop.

Movie theater – Walking from the car to the theater and back can provide some easy exercise with a nice long, entertaining break in between.

Don’t let your senior loved one’s life come to a standstill, encourage them to seek out exercise and incorporate some movement in the time you spend together.