Alzheimer’s disease affects 5 million people in the United States, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. The progressive disease disrupts memory and thinking. It also impairs and eventually kills brain cells. This impairment can lead to symptoms that include forgetfulness, difficulty with time, language problems and inability to recognize loved ones. Though there is no known cure for Alzheimer’s at this time, there are ways to slow down the onset of the disease. There are many different avenues one can take to treat Alzheimer’s Disease.
Five Ways to Slow the Onset of Alzheimer’s
1. Medication: Medications called cholinesterase inhibitors are prescribed for mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease. These drugs may help reduce some symptoms and help control some behavioral symptoms.
2. Diet: A Mediterranean diet has been suggested to reduce cognitive decline.
3. Social interaction: Social interaction is healthy, like exercise for the brain, and can slow symptoms including deteriorating memory. In fact, staying socially engaged with friends and family has been shown to boost self-esteem, which for people with dementia means better eating habits, more exercise, and better sleep.
4. Mental exercise: Experts think the extra mental activity from education may protect the brain by strengthening connections between its cells. Neither education nor brain exercises are a sure way
to prevent Alzheimer’s. But they may help delay symptoms and keep the mind working better for longer.
5. Physical exercise: According to the Alzheimer’s Research & Prevention Foundation, regular physical exercise can reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease by up to 50 percent. What’s more, exercise can also slow further deterioration in those who have already started to develop cognitive problems.
Suggested Stimulating Activities for Alzheimer’s
Here are 10 stimulating activities for Alzheimer’s that you can try with your senior loved one:
1. Bake or cook simple recipes together.
2. Clean around the house. Sweep the patio, wipe the table, fold towels or try other household tasks that help the person feel a sense of accomplishment.
3. Do arts and crafts, such as knitting and painting. Keep patterns and tools simple.
4. Look at books the person used to enjoy.
5. Organize household or office items, particularly if the person used to take pleasure in organizational tasks.
6. Read the newspaper.
7. Play music or sing songs.
8. Tend the garden or visit a botanical garden.
9. Watch family videos.
10. Work on puzzles.
Mind-Stimulating Activities for Dementia Patients
Activities that provide cognitive stimulation ideally target both an individual’s mental and social functioning. Cognitive stimulation can be administered either in a group setting, such as that of a skilled care home or residential care setting, or it can be provided individually by a professional or family caregiver and tailored to the individual’s specific interests and abilities.
Consider suggesting a variety of activities in the following categories:
● Thinking – puzzles, games, reading
● Physical – walking, arm and leg exercises, dancing
● Social – visiting with family and friends, senior center activities
● Chores – folding the laundry, setting the table, feeding the pets
● Creative – arts and crafts projects, painting, playing music or singing
● Daily living – taking a shower, brushing teeth, eating, getting dressed
Reminiscence therapy is another type of cognitive stimulation that can help improve the quality of life for an individual with dementia. Reminiscence activities may include:
● Looking through photo albums
● Creating a scrapbook
● Telling “I remember when” stories
● Re-reading saved letters and greeting cards
● Listening to music
● Baking, and making and eating a special family recipe together
Maria Shriver has advice for people with Alzheimer’s disease and their caregivers: Get crayons and markers. Then fill in the butterfly wings, balloons and other uplifting images on the pages of “Color Your Mind,” a coloring book she developed in collaboration with neurologists, psychologists and nursing home residents. This interactive coloring book is filled with inspiration and information that was developed in partnership with neurologists, psychologists, caregivers, and, of course, people with Alzheimer’s. Each coloring page also features prompts to help people with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers create, connect, and reflect.
Color Your Mind combines coloring with useful brain health tips about:
• Social Connection
• …and other valuable lessons for a fulfilling, balanced life.
The activities, images, and approach in Color Your Mind were developed and refined through visits to nursing homes and memory care facilities. These visits and interactions also informed the selection of cheerful, inspiring coloring images throughout the book. While there are so many ways to interact with and treat Alzheimer’s patients, the best thing to do is keep it simple, enjoyable and consistent. Camelot Senior Living has developed a fun coloring activity that captures some of their residents. Click here to download this coloring book.