The Cognitive Changes in Older Loved Ones You Should Watch For

cognitive changes in older adults

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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According to the National Library of Medicine, about 40% of people aged 65 or older have age-related memory impairment.

A loved one who occasionally forgets a name, or misplaces their key or cell phone, is usually nothing to worry about.

However, a loved one who is unable to carry out everyday tasks such as shopping, cooking, or driving should be a cause for concern. In some instances, forgetfulness may also be a sign of mild cognitive impairment.

Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is an early stage of memory loss that may or may not develop into dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Older adults with MCI can carry out activities of daily living, but they are severe enough to be noticed by the affected person and family members.

According to AARP, people showing signs of mild cognitive impairment don’t have dementia but are at risk of developing dementia in the future.

But how do you know when to be concerned?

Here are some signs of cognitive changes in older adults that you should watch out for.

Changes in Hygiene or Organization

Not bathing, grooming, an increasingly messy home, or forgetting to pay bills can be symptoms of something more serious.

Download this informative Family Decision Toolkit for additional guidance and information.

Repetitive Questioning

The inability to comprehend and follow a conversation. Continuously asking the same questions over and over again.

Changes in Diet or Eating Habits

Reduced appetite, eating poorly, or not eating at all.

Personality Changes

Increased aggression, getting upset, getting angry more easily, odd or inappropriate behaviors.

Getting Lost

Your loved one is frequently getting lost in well-known places, forgetting directions, showing up late to appointments and events, and wandering.

An Inability to Follow Directions

Your loved one struggles to follow a recipe or instructions to take medication.

Forgetting Conversations

Perhaps a loved one is calling you to discuss an earlier conversation or continuously asking you to do completed things.

Wrap-up and Next Steps

Recognizing cognitive decline in a loved one can be scary and overwhelming. It’s essential to identify and take cognitive changes seriously and get them checked out by a physician.

Taking the time to converse with a loved one about how they’re feeling and what they’re experiencing is crucial to early detection and treatment.

You should know that there are resources and professionals that can help you identify and treat signs of cognitive changes in adults.

In addition, Memory Care communities like Vitality Living support families, keep memory care residents safe, and design customized plans for memory care residents.

Download this informative Family Decision Toolkit for additional guidance and information.

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