Can Engaging in Art Projects Prevent Alzheimer’s?

Can Engaging in Art Projects Prevent Alzheimer’s?

Alzheimer’s disease affects a person’s memory. As the disease progresses, many people lose their ability to communicate verbally. Art therapy has increasingly been used to help adults with Alzheimer’s cope with their symptoms. Not only can art help them express their thoughts and feelings when they can no longer do so verbally, but it can also improve other areas—including cognitive health.

The positive effects that art therapy has on adults with Alzheimer’s begs the question: Can engaging in art help protect you from getting the disease in the first place?

Research says it’s possible.

Understanding the Relationship Between Art and Alzheimer’s

A study observed seniors between 85 and 89 years old without memory problems to see if they could find a relationship between engaging in art projects and risk of developing cognitive impairment. At the end of the study, they found those who engaged in art-related activities were less likely to develop mild cognitive impairment than those who did not.

4 Reasons Why Engaging in Art Might Help Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease

  1. Strengthens the brain. Making art may prevent Alzheimer’s because creativity has been shown to help build connections in the brain. New connections strengthen the mind, which can stop memory loss and preserve cognitive functioning.
  2. Improves focus. Making art requires concentration. Like meditation, art requires you to focus on the present moment. Over time, this can reduce anxiety, minimize depression, and result in overall better brain heath.
  3. Reduces stress. Stress can be harmful to the brain. Chronic stress can kill brain cells, reduce sociability, and even shrink the area of the brain responsible for memory and learning. Art can be an effective way to reduce stress. This may slow the progression of age-related cognitive decline.
  4. Regulates blood pressure. Research suggests that high blood pressure may increase the risk of dementia. By reducing stress and calming the mind, engaging in art can help seniors regulate their blood pressure.

Art Projects That May Help Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease

Seniors don’t need to be “good at art” to reap the benefits. Activities like coloring require little artistic ability while providing big mental benefits.

Other forms of art that can benefit seniors include:

  • Painting and drawing
  • Craft projects
  • Photography
  • Dancing
  • Creative writing
  • Playing a musical instrument

The Cause of Alzheimer’s Is Unknown

One of the most difficult things about Alzheimer’s is that researchers don’t understand what causes it. This makes it difficult to know with certainty which factors can prevent the disease. But engaging in art is indeed worth considering.

Heritage Senior Communities Provides Memory Care

Heritage Senior Living provides memory care programs across Michigan. We help seniors with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia live their best quality of life.

We help seniors maintain as much independence as safely possible. We invite you to schedule a visit to see how seniors with dementia thrive in our care.

How to Keep Aging Parents Safe on Senior Dating Sites

How to Keep Aging Parents Safe on Senior Dating Sites

Dear Donna,

My mom is dating for the first time since my father’s death. I am happy for her, but also concerned about her safety. I have heard there are scammers who specifically target seniors.

How do I keep my mom safe while dating?

Grace from Holland, MI

When Aging Parents Start Dating

Dear Grace,

It’s normal for adult children to worry when their senior parents start dating. This is especially true if their parents are widowed or haven’t dated in years. A lot has changed since they were in the dating pool, largely due to the internet.

Using the internet to find love is a new concept for many seniors. Various websites are available to help singles connect.

Senior Dating Sites

  • SeniorMatch: SeniorMatch caters to singles over 50 years old. In addition to romantic relationships, this site also helps seniors looking for other connections like companions and travel buddies.
  • eHarmony: eHarmony uses a series of questions to match statistically compatible singles who share the same values. They claim to help people of all ages find love.
  • Niche sites: Various niche sites cater to specific groups of people. EliteSingles, for example, targets educated, mature singles. Other platforms, like FarmersOnly, attract farmers and singles who love the outdoors.

Like anyone seeking a partner online, seniors should be cautious. Many seniors have nest eggs, and scammers may try to take advantage of them. By learning the warning signs, caregivers can help keep their loved ones safe from online dating scams.

4 Ways Seniors Can Stay Safe While Online Dating

  1. Avoid anyone who professes love quickly. Saying “I love you” early in an online relationship isn’t normal. Scam artists commonly use this tactic to make their victim emotionally attached. Seniors should be wary of anyone who professes their love too quickly.
  2. Deny requests for money. Asking for money is red flag that seniors shouldn’t ignore. It’s best to avoid sending money regardless of what they tell you.
  3. Make sure their dating platform is reputable. If your loved one starts online dating, find out what platform they are using. Do a little research to make sure it has a good reputation. If it doesn’t, direct them to a site that does.
  4. Be aware of their plans. When your loved one goes on a date, learn as much about their plans as possible.
    • Who are they going with?
    • Where are they going?
    • When will they be home?

Knowing this information can help you determine when to worry and what to report if something occurs.

Online Dating Isn’t for Everyone

Intimacy and strong relationships later in life are essential for senior loved ones’ longevity and overall well-being. But meeting people after retirement can be challenging.

Senior dating sites aren’t for everyone. It’s common for seniors to feel more comfortable meeting face-to-face than through a computer. Assisted living can be advantageous in these cases. In assisted living, there are plenty of opportunities for seniors to meet and interact with potential partners.

I hope this helps your mom stay safe on senior dating sites. Wishing her lots of luck in finding love!

Regards,

Donna

Heritage Encourages Friendship

Heritage Senior Communities, including our Appledorn location, understand the importance of friendships in later life. We provide an environment that fosters connectedness and provides plenty of opportunities for social interaction. Contact us for more information.

4 Ways Gardening Can Help Prevent Depression in Older Adults

4 Ways Gardening Can Help Prevent Depression in Older Adults

Gardening is a common pastime for all ages. For some, gardening is more than a hobby. Tending and cultivating a garden has several physical and mental health benefits. Current research suggests it may even help alleviate symptoms of depression in older adults.

4 Ways Gardening Can Prevent Depression

  1. Gives seniors a sense of purpose.

After retirement, many seniors struggle to find a sense of purpose. With their kids fully grown, they might not feel needed. Feeling useless can lead to sadness and depressive thoughts.

Horticulture can help seniors regain their sense of purpose by giving them something to nurture. Maintaining a garden takes consistent work, and plants need to be tended daily to survive. Not only can gardening give seniors responsibility, but it can also be a reason to get up in the morning.

  1. Keeps the mind active.

It can be challenging to maintain an active mind after retirement. Studies show that the saying “use it or lose it” applies to the brain. Regularly performing mentally stimulating activities sustains cognitive health longer and increases the ability to fight mental health issues like depression.

Starting a garden can keep the mind active because it requires constant learning. For plants to thrive, gardeners need to know their optimal growing conditions and how to care for them. Horticulture can also activate the mind by stimulating the senses. Gardens are full of colors, smells, and textures.

  1. Promotes exercise.

Exercise is known to reduce anxiety and depression, but it can be particularly beneficial for older adults. Studies suggest exercise can help seniors maintain their physical functioning and delay (if not prevent) the onset of some chronic conditions—most of which can contribute to depression.

Gardening can be an effective form of exercise for older adults. It requires physical movements for weeding, harvesting, pruning, watering, and rearranging.

  1. Helps seniors feel connected.

Social connections are essential for mental health. Unfortunately, many seniors struggle to make friends after retirement. Without coworkers and frequent social outings, seniors can become lonely and isolated. This disconnect can worsen depression.

Not only can gardening help seniors feel connected to other living things, but it can also help seniors make friends. The horticulture community is vast. Gardening stores, trade shows, and online forums are great ways for seniors to connect with fellow horticulturists.

Staying Safe While Gardening

Like any age group, seniors should take proper precautions when starting an activity. Here are a few ways senior gardeners can stay healthy:

  • Accommodate mobility limitations. It’s common for people to experience mobility challenges as they age. Seniors can make modifications to accommodate their restrictions. Using raised flower beds, for example, can reduce how far they need to bend down. There are also tools specially designed to minimize discomfort in those with disabilities.
  • Warm up. Gardening is a form of exercise; therefore, seniors should warm up. Taking the time to stretch before starting can significantly reduce the risk of injury.
  • Take proper sun precautions. When gardening outside, it’s important to protect your skin from the sun. This always involves wearing sunscreen, but may also include protective clothing, sunglasses, or a hat. Also drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration.

Gardening Is a Healthy Hobby

If you are looking for a hobby to improve your overall health, you may want to consider gardening. Tending to plants and watching your hard work come to fruition can bring a tremendous sense of accomplishment and improve your self-esteem.

Heritage Senior Communities Promotes Healthy Activities

Heritage Senior Communities encourages residents to participate in activities that improve their sense of well-being. The best way to learn how we help our residents thrive is to visit. Contact us today to schedule a private tour.

3 Ways Assisted Living Is Different Than a Nursing Home

3 Ways Assisted Living Is Different Than a Nursing Home

Dear Donna,

My mom fell recently, and she no longer feels safe on her own. She wants to find an independent living arrangement where she can have access to assistance if needed. We have narrowed down her options to an assisted living community or a nursing home, but are having trouble understanding how they differ.

How is assisted living different than a nursing home?

Lauren from Saline, MI

Understanding the Difference Between Assisted Living and Nursing Homes

Dear Lauren,

It’s common for family caregivers to have difficulty understanding the difference between assisted living and nursing homes. Many families lack experience with senior living and feel unprepared to make decisions about their loved one’s care.

Understanding their differences is the first step toward helping a loved one find an option that meets their needs.

3 Differences Between Assisted Living and Nursing Homes

  1. Amount of care provided.

The main difference between an assisted living community and a nursing home is the amount of care provided. Nursing homes offer a higher level of care. If your loved one requires ample assistance with activities of daily living, needs medical care, or is unable to move without help, they would likely benefit from a nursing home.

Seniors who require assistance with personal care and the activities of daily living will typically benefit from assisted living. Seniors may move to assisted living communities because they suffer from mobility issues or have a minor cognitive impairment.

  1. Type of living space.

Another difference between nursing homes and assisted living communities is the living space. A nursing home resident typically shares a bedroom and bathroom with one other person, although some do offer private suites. There are fewer common areas than in an assisted living community and little to no outdoor space. This is largely because nursing homes are primarily designed for seniors who need more complex medical care. Nursing homes often resemble a hospital.

Assisted living communities, on the other hand, offer more independence and privacy. Residents live in private or shared apartments. Most apartments have small kitchenettes and a living room. Assisted living apartments more closely resemble a luxury apartment with common living spaces and plenty of outdoor areas to enjoy nature.

  1. Activities offered to residents.

Because nursing homes are designed for seniors who need medical care, they offer limited life enrichment programs. Some nursing homes have staff or volunteers who work one-on-one with residents, such as reading to them or helping write letters.

Assisted living communities typically offer a full schedule of activities to keep residents socially active and engaged. Heritage Senior Communities, for example, publishes a calendar full of social events and outings every month. Seniors can participate in a variety of options including chair yoga, family night, and church services.

Finding Senior Care for a Loved One Takes Time

Navigating the maze of senior care options takes time and patience. By carefully exploring each option, you can help your senior loved one make a decision that enhances their quality of life.

I hope this gives you a better understanding of the differences between nursing homes and assisted living!

Sincerely,

Donna

Heritage Senior Communities

Heritage Senior Communities, including our Linden Square location, are fully licensed by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) as homes for the aged. This means we support and care for our residents in a comfortable, home-like setting. To learn more about our communities, we invite you to schedule a private tour.

How to Connect with an Online Caregiver Support Group

How to Connect with an Online Caregiver Support Group

Dear Donna,

I am the primary caregiver for my mother, who is in the later stages of Alzheimer’s disease. I have been feeling lonely lately, but I am having trouble connecting with people who understand the challenges I am facing. I am interested in joining an online support group, but unsure where to start.

How do I connect with an online caregiver support group?

Laura from Saline, MI

Online Support Groups for Caregivers

Dear Laura,

Caring for a family member with Alzheimer’s disease can be lonely, especially if you don’t have anyone to talk to about your challenges. An online support group can be a great resource to connect with caregivers experiencing similar difficulties.

Here are a few benefits of an online support group:

  • They are available any time of day.
  • You can swap advice with other caregivers.
  • For some, it is more comfortable to confide in an online group than in-person.
  • You have access to a pool of resources.

Connecting with an Online Caregiver Support Group

  1. Find your group

When joining a support group, be selective. Find a group that is friendly, helpful, and engaged. You can use a few methods to find a group:

  • Organizations: Organizations that support your loved one’s condition or situation can be a great way to find a group. For example, if your loved one has Alzheimer’s, consult the Alzheimer’s Association. Ask them if they lead any online support groups or if they can refer any to you.
  • Recommendations: Asking for recommendations is another great way to find a group. You can ask friends and family, or any other person you trust.
  • Social media: Social media is another resource for finding groups. Facebook and LinkedIn host groups and allow you to search for them directly on their platform. They will even let you know how many members belong to the group and how many posts were recently shared.
  1. Learn the community

Once you find a group you are interested in, take time to read the community guidelines. On Facebook, the group will often allow you to view the group rules before you request to join.

Before participating, observe the conversations happening in the group. Pay attention to how members interact with one another. Once you feel like you understand their culture and etiquette, you can introduce yourself. Many groups have a thread dedicated to new member introductions.

  1. Start engaging

Once you’ve introduced yourself and have a good understanding of the culture, you can join conversations. Remember that online relationships work the same way as in-person relationships. It’s great to ask questions, but also offer support from your own experiences when you can.

Finding Emotional Support Through Online Groups

Regardless of what group you join, participating in a caregiver support group can provide you with the emotional support you need to complete your duties and be there for your loved one.

I hope this helps you find and connect with an online caregiver support group!

Regards,

Donna

 

Heritage Senior Communities

Many of our senior communities, including our Linden Square Assisted Living community, offer specialized care for people with dementia. Contact us today to learn more about our memory care programs.