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Life Enrichment Activities for Seniors with Cognitive Diseases

Comprehensive care for adults with Alzheimer’s or dementia

At ComfortCare Homes, we know that each of our residents has individual needs and preferences. We work hard to provide activities customized for our residents that will make them feel engaged, at peace, and at home throughout our memory care programming.

In a nursing home or other live-in facility, seniors with cognitive diseases are often unable to participate in group activities or socializing opportunities like bridge or cribbage. Following the rules of a card game might be out of reach for some of our residents, so we’ve built in programming in our ComfortCare Homes that can be adapted to individual needs. We provide our residents with new opportunities to engage, learn, and thrive no matter their health concerns or abilities.

Sensory activities

Mental and physical stimulation is important for any individual with Alzheimer’s or dementia, and we don’t just mean watching television. We look for opportunities to create meaningful sensory experiences that elicit memories, positive thoughts, and improved moods. Often, it’s easier for someone with a cognitive disease to connect with items and sounds from their earlier years because their memories are regressing. We want to help our residents access those positive memories without becoming overstimulated.

Our caregivers work with each resident’s family and friends to learn their background, interests, former occupation, and more. Then we create a personalized music therapy program, as well as task and sensory boxes. Some of our residents crave a sense of purpose and enjoy helping with tasks around the home or in the kitchen. We encourage our residents to engage with caregivers and other residents in ways that make them feel comfortable, with adapted activities that help them feel involved.

Task and sensory boxes

Connecting with past skills and knowledge is a powerful memory care tool. For example, if one of our residents was a plumber or a tailor, giving them a box with pipes or fabrics can help them recall memories, feel something familiar, and manipulate objects to use all of their senses.

In our ComfortCare Homes, we keep boxes for each of our residents that can help them connect to past memories and skills. We also keep a variety of sensory boxes full of items that create different sensations, from soft baby booties to an old oil can. We adopt these sensory boxes to meet the needs of each resident in the house, ensuring that they can interact safely with items that help them feel grounded and engaged.

Redirecting stations

Some residents with cognitive diseases experience high anxiety or mental stress. Redirecting stations are designed to help them take that energy and focus on pleasant memories or accessible skills as a way to help them regain control. For these residents, what others might view as a negative behavior is often just a way of trying to communicate or remember. Our caregivers help residents to engage with redirecting tools and stations as a way to keep them engaged but refocus their minds on positive and affirming memories.

Redirecting stations and tools might include trinkets from a resident’s earlier years, items provided by family members, sensory items like plush toys or leather gloves, or small tools and gadgets. Residents are able to manipulate and “tinker” with these items, moving their focus from frustration to engagement. These small steps can offer our residents a sense of control and purpose.

Music and memory

Music is a primary way of engaging residents even in later stages of cognitive diseases and a valued part of a good memory care program. We have seen residents who are unresponsive listen to music and feel able to reconnect with caregivers. Music is also a great redirecting tool, helping our residents to feel calm or happier. Music can also help residents connect with memories, and sometimes also socialize or share those memories with caregivers.

We use an iPod or other mp3 players with personalized playlists of songs that were popular during a resident’s teens or 20s. ComfortCare Homes of Wichita proudly collaborated with our local Alzheimer’s Association chapter to create the local music and memory program called The Roth Project: Music Memories. In fact, the program is named after two former ComfortCare Homes residents.

Enrichment doesn’t stop just because cognitive abilities change. We focus on ways to use sensory activities and adapted life activities to keep our residents happy, involved, and active.

To learn more about our specialized memory care programming for seniors with Alzheimer’s, dementia, and other cognitive diseases, contact ComfortCare Homes today.

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