The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has been an extraordinary time of isolation and stress for people of all ages, with mental health being discussed in greater respects. Regardless of their physical ailments, it is important for senior citizens to remain mentally stimulated as they age to prevent or limit the impacts of conditions like dementia and Alzheimers.
However, keeping mentally active is something that is easier said than done, especially for those living alone during these unprecedented times. Currently, even those living in care homes face heavy restrictions when it comes to family visits.
Regardless of living arrangements, it is important to find innovative ways to keep the minds of our older loved ones appropriately stimulated, even when we can’t physically be with them. Actively looking for ways to improve mental health will play a key role in helping them cope with stress and disappointment during these difficult circumstances. Here are some activities we can encourage the elderly to do in order to stay mentally stimulated during these hard times:
If your loved one still has their mental faculties about them, then this could be a perfect opportunity for them to pursue an academic interest they’ve always been intrigued by.
There are a number of great schools online that provide opportunities for people to enroll in distance learning courses where they can earn a degree or diploma in a range of subjects. The nice thing about pursuing a course later in life is that you don’t have the pressure of having to study something that will help you achieve your career goals, and study can be for the pure love of a subject.
If academic studies are too much, why not provide the senior with some escapism in the form of a good old fashioned storybook? Get to know their reading preferences and favorite authors in order to provide them with an excellent supply of reading material. A good idea is to try to get them to tell you about what they’ve read. A good discussion about the story is a nice way to engage with your loved one. If they are a technology, get them a Kindle, as it will give them access to a range of books. Audiobooks are a great option for the elderly, especially if their eyesight is dwindling.
While some seniors may be apprehensive about using technology at first, once they get started, many of them actually end up loving the opportunities it affords. Take some time to get them set up on a laptop, tablet or smartphone. Show them how to use Facebook – this is a great way to stay connected with friends and family.
Not only that, but it will allow them to share ideas and read articles. Then there are communication platforms such as Facetime and Zoom, which will allow them to keep in touch with their loved ones on a regular basis. Allowing them to see their children and grandchildren is reassuring and will help keep the loneliness at bay.
Finding games to keep the elderly entertained is another great way of keeping them mentally stimulated while incorporating an element of fun into their daily routine. Furthermore, not all games will require people to maintain a long attention span, so try and find something that works for each individual.
Whether you opt to utilize brain train apps found online or stick to traditional board games that they are already familiar with will depend on the elderly person’s preferences and nature but there are plenty of options available.
Although it may seem a little strange, studies have shown that staying active as you age can help preserve memory and cognitive skills. Naturally, you’ll have to consult a doctor to establish the extent of exercise a person can do, especially if they have mobility issues or joint pain. With that being said, a gentle yoga class or tai chi session can work wonders both physically and mentally.
We are living through incredibly difficult times at the moment. None of us has lived through such circumstances and having limited contact with our elderly relatives when they need our company the most complicates things no end.
As caregivers, however, we need to start thinking creatively in order to find ways to keep seniors mentally stimulated. Promoting mental health as a way of keeping conditions such as depression and anxiety at bay needs to be prioritsed now more than ever before. While it won’t always be easy to find activities for seniors, it is imperative that we remain patient and persevere. You’ll get there in the end, and the benefits for your loved one will be worth the effort.
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