Summer Activities for Adults with Dementia to Enjoy

Summer Activities for Adults with Dementia to Enjoy

Michigan caregivers might find themselves struggling to come up with meaningful activities for an older adult who has dementia or Alzheimer’s. While some families take advantage of adult day programs to help their loved one stay active, many seniors don’t attend every day. That means families have a few days a week when they need to come up with engaging activities.

Summers can be an especially great time for all the generations of a family to enjoy spending time together.

The dementia care team from Heritage Senior Communities put together a list of life enrichment activities to help Alzheimer’s caregivers create meaningful days.

Meaningful Summer Activities for Adults with Dementia

  • Exercise: The health benefits of regular exercise are especially important for people with Alzheimer’s. It can help soothe agitation, while also acting as a stress buster for both the family caregiver and the person with the disease. Commit to enjoying a daily a stroll together this summer. Maybe take your camera along to snap nature photos as you go. If a walk isn’t possible, invest in a few senior-friendly exercise DVDs. Chair Yoga and gentle stretching can help improve strength, flexibility and balance.
  • Music Therapy: The healing harmonies of music have well documented benefits for seniors with Alzheimer’s. In addition to boosting mood and lifting the spirits, it can even help people with memory loss access memories. It can be as simple as creating a playlist of your senior loved one’s favorite “oldies” and enjoying them together.
  • Back to Nature: Gardening is another form of life enrichment that has many benefits for those with Alzheimer’s disease. Container gardens and raised beds can make gardening easier and safer. Because people with Alzheimer’s often put things in their mouth, remember to use only plants that aren’t toxic if ingested. Check this list of toxic plants to review which ones you should avoid. Having a garden to plant and maintain will provide productive and meaningful activity almost every day.
  • Bird Watching: If your loved one is able, consider taking up bird watching as a hobby your family can enjoy together. Take pictures of birds you see around you and look them up online to learn more. You might even consider starting your own bird book with photos and information you learn about each one.
  • Creative Projects: Arts and crafts projects give everyone in the family a chance to participate. You can tailor projects to the age and ability level of family members. It might be a creating a simple watercolor painting or assembling a photo album or scrapbooks. Most craft stores also have kits you can purchase with everything you need for a project included.

Whatever activity you choose, keep in mind that familiar, simple ones that don’t require abstract though are usually best for adults with Alzheimer’s. They are easier for your loved one to complete and require less planning and work on your end.

Dementia Care at Heritage Senior Communities in Michigan

The Terrace at Heritage Senior Communities provides specialized care for people with Alzheimer’s. From a thoughtfully designed environment to dedicated life enrichment activities, we invite you to stop by for a tour to learn how we create successful days for people with dementia!


Is it Time for a Senior Loved One to Break Up with a Doctor?

Is it Time for a Senior Loved One to Break Up with a Doctor?

It used to be great. They listened when something was wrong, and respected the opinions your senior loved one shared with them. They used to take time to talk about your concerns, and sometimes even share a laugh. But something’s changed. Lately, they seem hurried, no longer interested in the details. Or worse, they just aren’t available when your loved one needs them.

You know the signs. You’ve seen them before in other failing relationships, and now you’re noticing it all over again. But this time it’s in the life of a senior loved one, and in the place where you least expected it to happen – the doctor’s office.


Not Every Physician Relationship was Made to Last a Lifetime

What has always been a great doctor-patient relationship can change for the worse over time. Interactions might become rushed, perfunctory and impersonal. You are starting to wonder if it may be time to move on.

Talk to any relationship therapist and they’ll tell you there are classic signs to watch for. Signs that it’s time to call it quits. A relationship with a doctor is no different, though the red flags aren’t exactly the same.


So what signs might indicate it’s time for a new physician?

  • Long wait times
  • Bad communication
  • Poor listening skills
  • Disregard for the patient’s concerns or opinions
  • Limited or delayed access to care

Ending Certain Physician Relationships May be Lifesaving

People often fall into the trap of thinking that because they need their doctor, they aren’t free to leave. This simply isn’t true.

A doctor-patient relationship is a two way street. There needs to be mutual respect and a willingness to listen. When these needs aren’t met, it’s okay to end the relationship.

In an article written by Eugene Spiritus for, Spiritus explains that there’s no such thing as the “best doctor.” But there is such a thing as the wrong doctor for you. Spiritus, a pulmonary critical care specialist, says that while competence is important, it’s even more important that a doctor be a good listener.

It sounds a bit melodramatic, we know, but it’s true. In the same way that a relationship with an abusive partner can have tragic results, so can a bad relationship with your doctor. According to AARP, multiple sclerosis, lupus and Lyme disease are only a few of the medical conditions that are regularly misdiagnosed by doctors.

Clearly, a doctor who listens to their patient’s concerns can make all the difference. So if a senior loved one in your life is feeling ignored or dismissed by their doctor, it might be time to discuss moving on.

Here are a few factors to consider.

Mutual respect and collaboration are key.

A paper published by the American Journal of Managed Care shows that communication and decision-making are what secure the relationship between a doctor and their patient. In other words, how included a patient feels in decisions about their health, and how the doctor communicates with them are foundational to their relationship.

Making the right choice for your loved ones.

Helping an aging loved one to make the critical decision to part ways with their doctor and move on can be hard. Ending any lasting relationship is difficult. But when you think about what’s best for their overall health and wellbeing, a disinterested and unavailable doctor shouldn’t be anywhere in that picture.

An Environment to Support Older Adults

The support of an interested physician is one important aspect of thriving in retirement years. Another one is where a senior lives. And where you live matters greatly as you grow older.

From independent living to assisted living and memory care, Heritage Senior Communities, we have a housing solution for seniors across the state of Michigan. Call the community nearest you to schedule a private tour today!

Can a Positive Attitude Affect How You Age?

Can a Positive Attitude Affect How You Age?

Keep your face to the sun, and you will never see the shadows!” This widely known Helen Keller quote perfectly sums up the conscious choice to stay focused on the positive things in your life. But is there more to having a sunny disposition than just “being a happy person?”


Maintaining a positive attitude affects every area of your life, from your health to your relationships. But surprisingly, it also has a huge impact on how well you age.

A positive attitude can mean a longer, happier life.

According to the Mayo Clinic, your attitude has a direct effect on your health. One of the primary areas affected is your stress level. Optimistic people manage their stress more effectively. This means that all of the negative effects of stress – like increased blood pressure – are greatly reduced in positive people.

So what does this mean for seniors?

Believe it or not, your outlook on life may have a direct effect on a number of health factors. Happier people tend to have:

  • lower levels of inflammation
  • lower cholesterol levels
  • reduced chance of developing cardiovascular disease

These benefits alone should make a positive disposition more appealing for everyone, regardless of their age. But for seniors, there is one side effect of being a positive person that can make all the difference – improved mental health.

TIME magazine shared research from the Yale School of Public Health. Scientists at Yale have discovered a direct link between how one feels about aging, and how well our brains ward off Alzheimer’s disease. The study, which took 25 years to complete, showed that people with a negative perspective of aging tended to have a higher chance of developing Alzheimer’s. People who viewed aging as a normal and natural part of life seemed to have much lower occurrences of the disease.

Choose joy. Because yes, it is a choice!

So what does a positive attitude look like? Well, contrary to what some people believe, it’s not about ignoring problems or refusing to deal with life’s troubles. People with a positive outlook still face struggles and challenges. The difference lies in how they choose to think about those issues.

People with a positive attitude:

  • Practice gratitude: They’re grateful for what they have, and don’t spend time lamenting what they don’t have.
  • Positive self-talk: They don’t call themselves names when they make mistakes, or label themselves with negative titles like “idiot” or “moron.”
  • Spend time with other happy people: They spend time with others who feed their positivity, and avoid those who try to bring them down.
  • Forgive: Whether it’s forgiving themselves, or forgiving others, letting go of grudges and resentments makes a big difference to how happy one can be.
  • Focus on the positive: They make a conscious choice to look for the best in a situation, or expect the best possible outcome. They also focus on the good in people instead of focusing on their shortcomings.

Aging with a Happy Heart

Psychology Today published an article written by Christopher Bergland, the world-class endurance athlete and coach, who claims that a positive attitude about aging can reduce frailty in seniors. Frailty, he says, has been directly linked to lower cognitive abilities, and can often lead to dementia.

What can you or your senior loved one do to improve the odds of aging well?

Beyond maintaining a positive outlook, older adults can stay active and engaged in a lifestyle that promotes joyful living. A senior living community helps make it easier to live and thrive during retirement years. Great community events, wellness programs, opportunities for lasting friendships, and a focus on life enrichment activities are a part of everyday life.

Do You Have Questions about Assisted Living?

We understand the decision to move to a senior living community is a big step. If you have questions about independent living, assisted living, or memory care services, we can help. Call the Heritage Senior Community nearest you for answers or support today!

Mother’s Day Gifts Ideas for Grandma

Mother’s Day Gifts Ideas for Grandma

Dear Donna:

My grandmother recently moved to one of your assisted living communities in Michigan. I am heading home from college soon and can’t wait to see her and her new apartment on Mother’s Day!

I would like to bring my grandma a housewarming/Mother’s Day present, but I’m struggling to come up with the right gift idea. Do you have any suggestions? My mom told me space is limited, so I need to come up with something meaningful but small!

Kind Regards,


Mother’s Day Gift Guide for Grandmothers

Dear Heather:

First off, I’m happy to learn your grandmother now calls one of our communities home! She’s no doubt anxious to show you around her new place.

As far as your struggle to come up with an idea for a Mother’s Day gift idea for your grandma, you aren’t alone. It is one of the most common questions we hear from family members this time of year. And it’s why we created this gift guide. We hope it will help you and other family members who have a loved one who lives in an assisted living community.

Sentimental Mother’s Day Gifts

Most grandmothers cherish anything that highlights their family. The best Mother’s Day gift for your grandma might be one that honors that sentiment. A few ideas include:

  • Scrapbook that contains photos of loved ones and memorabilia from important family milestones
  • Personalized calendar that has all of your family’s important birthdays and anniversaries printed on it
  • Book of coupons she can trade for time with you, such as lunch out in a local restaurant or computer lessons

Splurge Gifts for a Cherished Grandmother

If your grandmother is like many older adults, she rarely splurges on gifts for herself. So think about what she might enjoy, including activities you can do together while you are home for the summer. Some suggestions could be:

  • A facial, makeover, manicure, or pedicure for the two of you to indulge in together
  • Gift certificate for the in-house beauty/barber shop at her assisted living community
  • Basket of pampering items for you and your grandmother to enjoy a home spa afternoon together
  • Gift card to a clothing store you know your grandmother likes along with a promise to be the one to take her shopping there

Gifts to Encourage Wellness

Other gifts to consider for your grandmother might be those that encourage her to stay active. A few senior-friendly ideas could be:

  • A pedometer or fitness tracker
  • Walking shoes or sneakers with good support
  • Active wear such as a comfortable jogging suit
  • A book and/or DVD on meditation

Gifts to Support Life-long Learning

Staying mentally fit as we grow older means staying connected to friends, loved ones and the community. Here are a few gifts that make it easier for your grandmother to do just that:

  • A tablet she can use to connect on social media and email
  • Gift card to her favorite local craft store and a pledge to be her driver to and from the store
  • Help pay for a class she’s always wanted to pursue such as guitar lessons or a French class – there are many online opportunities to continue learning

Finally, never underestimate how important the gift of your time is to your grandmother. Set up a movie night to enjoy together or an afternoon to join her for lunch and an activity at her assisted living community. She will love being able to show off her college granddaughter!

I hope these ideas help you enjoy Mother’s Day with your grandmother, Heather!