Whether you are a caregiver in a long term care facility, or care for your elderly loved ones in their home, daily activities are a must. They not only help build and maintain physical strength, but aid in developing mental strength as well. Because each elderly person is different and suffers from various conditions, activities need to be planned accordingly.
Assess His Condition
The easiest way to plan activities for an elderly patient is to assess his condition beforehand. This doesn't require you to act as a doctor, but rather observe him for a bit and make a mental note of any physical or mental challenges he may have.
For instance if he has had a stroke and is paralyzed on one side of his body, he may become frustrated if you ask him to participate in arts and crafts. Instead, he may enjoy playing a game of bingo; this requires the use of only one hand and is something he can do without assistance.
Consider Her Interests
Always take into consideration her interests before planning any activities for the day. If your loved one or patient enjoys knitting, gather the supplies she needs and let her knit for as long as she wishes. This may not be the most challenging activity there is for her, but keep in mind that it's about what makes her happy and keeps her mind occupied. This is also a great activity for those who may suffer from arthritis, because it keeps the fingers moving and joints nimble.
Think of His Needs
Many times, patients need to walk a certain number of feet each day. With this in mind, make one of your activities a walk around the garden. While walking may be a bit difficult for him, chances are he will be a more willing participant if he is able to get fresh air and feel the sun on his face.
Another great form of exercise for all elderly patients is to play the video games offered by the Nintendo Wii. Aside from the original games, such as bowling, the Nintendo Wii Fit may help improve balance and prevent falls among the elderly. A study is currently being conducted by the University of Aberdeen in Scotland and the United Kingdom's National Health Service to determine if any positive changes are noted after four months of Wii use.
Consider Her Mental Needs
Exercise goes beyond the physical, and the elderly can benefit from mental activities as much as they can from physical ones. Again, take into account her capabilities--make it too easy and you may insult her. Make it too difficult and you run the risk of causing her frustration.
Crossword puzzles are a favorite activity among the elderly population, as is reading or being read to. Looking at photo albums of her family may help spark the memory in someone with dementia or Alzheimer's disease, while talking to any elder about her life will generally bring a smile to her face as she relives a happier time and place.
Though a variety of activities have been mentioned, there are some notables that need to be addressed.
Regardless of an elder's mental or physical condition, music always seems to be a spark of magic for him. Choose the songs carefully, taking time to find out what band or performer he enjoys the most.
Coffee time is another favorite, as this allows many elders a chance to relax and enjoy a cup of java with good friends. In long term care there is typically more than one floor. The residents get to know one another through various activities, and getting together for coffee hour is a wonderful opportunity for socialization.
Finally, when holidays come around, involve them in the decorating fun. One activity can be making some decorations for their room or home, while another can be hanging them. The holidays, especially Christmas, can be a depressing time for many elderly patients; involving them in decorating can lift their spirits tremendously.
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