Holiday Tips for Loved Ones with Dementia

When it comes to healthy aging, quite honestly, there’s a lot to do. You’re supposed to make sure to keep your body active and your brain engaged all while maintaining your social connections as well. Sure, the benefits to your overall well-being are worth the effort, but retirement is supposed to be a time with less responsibility on your plate, right? Well, it turns out that in senior living you can have your cake and eat it too, so to speak. Here’s how programs like our Vivid Life make keeping active, engaged, and connected easy and fun! 

Benefits of Healthy Aging 

Good things happen when you focus on healthy aging. In addition to feeling better overall, which in and of itself is a win, other benefits of keeping active, engaged, and connected include:  

  • Improved ability to do everyday things ​ 
  • Reduced impact of illness and chronic disease​ 
  • Enhanced mobility, flexibility, and balance
  • Improved sleep
  • Increased energy level
  • Reduced feelings of depression and stress
  • Increased feelings of happiness and self-confidence
  • Reduced risk of cognitive decline 
  • Increased mental adaptability and cognitive reserve 
  • Improved memory recall and problem-solving skills 
  • Improved concentration and attention to detail  

How Senior Living Can Help 

At home, particularly when living alone, it can be hard to stay as active, engaged, and connected as you’d like. From lack of opportunity to lack of motivation to lack of transportation to mobility challenges, and more, it’s tough, we get it! That’s why we created the Vivid Life program in our senior living communities. It’s composed of three parts: Vibrant Body, Vibrant Brain, and Vibrant Connections. Here’s what each entails:  

Vibrant Body We offer amenities such as a state-of-the-art fitness center, a pool, walking trails, gardening opportunities, and even a dog park to help you stay active. A sample of activities includes:  

  • Walking club – Daily walks at different outdoor locations using pedometers to measure steps. 
  • Yoga – At least once per week for gentle yoga, and once per week for mindful breathing. 
  • Fitness classes – At least two times per week using a variety of hand weights, resistance bands, and circuit-type exercises. 
  • Tai Chi – At least once per week with a live instructor. 
  • Non-traditional exercise – Dancing, gardening, etc. at least two times per week. 
  • Physical games and sports – Golf, putting, bowling, croquet, bocce, and ping pong available daily with organized events one to two times per week. 

Vibrant Brain We offer monthly calendars filled with classes, events, creative arts, and enrichment opportunities to help keep you engaged. A sample of activities includes: 

  • Visiting lecture series – Twice per month with topics such as cultural, historical, local interest, career-oriented, etc. 
  • Creative art series – At least one per week with a theme that runs 3-6 weeks, such as poetry writing, storytelling, painting, digital photography, etc. 
  • Learning series – At least three times per month with an emphasis on learning something new such as foreign language, sign language, technology, hobbies, etc. 
  • Games – At least one time per week and may include poker, bridge, Scrabble, etc. 
  • Mindfulness – A meditation class once per week and gratitude discussion group twice monthly. 
  • Church service – At least once a week through visits by local churches. 
  • Stress reduction – At least once per month class that offers deep breathing exercises, nature walks, music appreciation, spa-type treatments, etc. 

 Vibrant Connections We offer resident-led clubs, social events, outings and volunteer opportunities for any interest to help you stay connected. A sample of activities includes: 

  • Outings – At least twice per month and may include going to concerts, art shows, museum visits, theatre productions, etc. 
  • Intergenerational programming – At least once per month and focuses on building relationships between young adults/children and residents. 
  • New resident welcome party – At least once per month to formally introduce all new residents, and includes ice breakers, social games, etc. to encourage connection. 
  • Philanthropic program – At least once per month provide residents the opportunity to give back to the community, such as volunteering for a local food bank or pet shelter. 
  • Resident-led clubs – May include game clubs, professional clubs, common interests, etc. that meet at least monthly.  

What’s more, it’s all right outside your door (or transportation is provided offsite) and all in a supportive environment with home maintenance, housekeeping, and restaurant-style dining freeing your time to make it even easier to stay active, engaged, and connected. 

Learn more about Vitality Living’s Vivid Life programs. Or find a Vitality Living community near you today to schedule a tour. 

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Seeing a friend or family member’s face light up when opening a gift they love is one of life’s greatest pleasures. While some are harder to buy for than others, the loving effort is well worth it. Particularly when you’re seeking just the right gift for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. Here are some gift ideas sure to bring about smiles and opportunities for connection, as well as holiday tips for celebrating at a distance this year.

Are you caring for a loved one yourself? At Vitality, we know it isn’t easy. That’s why we created a resource to help make caregiving days go a little more smoothly. The Caregiver’s Checklist: Supporting an Aging Parent covers a wide variety of topics ranging from creating a safe home environment to how to recognize the signs a senior needs more assistance. Download it with our compliments today!

caregiver's checklist

Dementia and the Power of Reminiscence

Reminiscence therapy is frequently used in memory care communities because it’s so beneficial in helping to create a sense of connection, value and belonging as well as a sense of joy and calm for residents with dementia. As verbal communication may be difficult, different mediums are typically used to assist in recollecting past experiences such as:

  • Visual – Looking at photographs or objects with meaning and/or painting pictures.
  • Aural – Listening to familiar and/or favorite tunes or making music with instruments.
  • Smell or taste – Activities using different smells and/or different foods.
  • Tactile – Touching objects, feeling textures, painting and/or pottery.

Holiday Gift Ideas with Reminiscence in Mind

But reminiscence isn’t just limited to a therapy setting. It’s a wonderful way to connect with your loved one in a meaningful way and create joyful moments together. That’s why we recommend considering holiday gifts that can aid in reminiscence activities, including:

  • Aqua Paint – Reusable water paintings with a variety of different scenes to spark memories.
  • Joy for All Companion Pets – Lifelike interactive cats and dogs that pair technology with comfort and help recreate fond memories for pet lovers.
  • ViewClix Smart Frame – Digital frame that displays a slideshow of photos uploaded through the app and also auto-answers video calls from family and friends.
  • Amazon Echo’s Alexa – This voice assistant can play music, audiobooks, set reminders and answer questions that can help with reminiscing.
  • URPOWER Essential Oil Diffuser – Aromatherapy can not only help trigger memories, it can also help reduce anxiety and stress which is extremely beneficial to those with dementia.

Tips for Celebrating Together When Apart

The holidays will definitely look different this year with the CDC advising that families should avoid travel and many memory care communities limiting visitors to prevent the spread of COVID-19. BUT that doesn’t mean you can’t still celebrate with your loved one at a distance.

If your loved one is in a memory care community, talk with the staff about what virtual holiday activities they may be hosting for residents in which families can take part in too. Also, check with the community about scheduling a FaceTime, Skype or Zoom call between your family and loved one during the holiday. You could even send gifts beforehand and open them together!

If your loved one is being cared for at home you might also consider scheduling a holiday parade with friends and other loved ones driving by with signs or decorations on their car. If your family is musically inclined you could even do some caroling, at a distance of course. In addition, you could get creative with your traditional holiday meal by having each family member cooking the dish they normally prepare and delivering it to your loved one so you can still enjoy it as a family. 

For more information on memory care, read our Beginner’s Guide to Recognizing Early Signs of Dementia.

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