Can Working Longer Keep You Healthier?

benefits of workingRetirement planning is something many people start at an early age, as they look forward to having all the time in the world to relax, enjoy themselves, and do all the things they may not have previously had time to do, like travel or write a novel.

However, more and more these days, older Americans are choosing to stay at work well past the retirement age of 65. Some continue working purely for financial reasons; studies have shown that more than half of U.S. workers have less than $25,000 in their savings accounts when it comes time to retire, excluding any pensions and property. This makes continuing to work a necessity, so they can continue saving for when they can no longer work at all.

Financial need is not the only reason seniors keep working, though! The benefits of working into your later years include social, emotional, mental and physical improvements to your health.

The Health Benefits of Working

A few years ago, research conducted by the University of Maryland found that men and women who continued to work past the standard retirement age had fewer disabilities, diseases and other health issues than those who had retired earlier. Another study shows that those who continued to work past age 70 were two and a half times more likely to still be alive at age 82 than those who had retired before then.

It’s clear that there are some definite health benefits of working longer. Some of the main benefits include:

  • Helps you stay active. Doctors have long stressed the importance of seniors staying physically active. Heading out to work every day keeps you moving, from simply walking from the parking lot into the office or going up a flight of stairs.
  • Keeps you socially connected. After retirement, some seniors can become isolated socially. They no longer have the opportunity to speak with others on a daily basis, and the situation can become worse if they live far away from friends and family. Social isolation has been known to lead to depression in seniors, too, but by going into work every day, you’re pretty much guaranteed to be communicating and interacting with others.
  • Can prevent dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. You’ve heard the phrase “use it or lose it” before, and this applies not only to the muscles of the body, but also to your brain. Working can keep you mentally challenged, which is a key component in keeping the brain healthy and active and slowing the onset of dementia.
  • Gives meaning to your life. Many seniors continue to work to feel that sense of pride and accomplishment that comes with completing a task or project and giving their emotional health a little boost. It allows them to achieve their goals and feel purposeful and meaningful in everyday life.
  • Improves mental health. This is especially true for seniors who either continue to work or find work after retirement that is related to their previous career. These seniors are able to use the knowledge and experience they’ve gained over their lifetimes, while continuing to develop new skills and meet their employer’s needs.

Working into your retirement years doesn’t have to be a negative experience. You’ll reap both health benefits and financial benefits, making you more able to retire comfortably when the time does come.

For more information about American Senior Communities, please visit www.ASCSeniorCare.com.

What to do if Loved Ones are Unaware They Have Dementia

Dementia Care TipsBeing the family caregiver for someone with dementia can be a difficult role. What can make it even more challenging is when the loved one being cared for is in denial of his or her condition. According to the National Alliance for Mental Illness, many Alzheimer’s disease and dementia sufferers have what is called anosognosia, which is defined as a lack of awareness or insight that one is impaired.

Anosognosia is a common diagnosis in those with mental illnesses, like schizophrenia, and is also found often in stroke victims. It’s difficult to know exactly what causes this condition, but researchers have discovered that when there is damage or deterioration to the frontal lobe of the brain, which controls our perception and how we organize information, anosognosia can occur frequently.

Dementia Care Tips for Anosognosia

When loved ones are unaware of their dementia, proper treatment can become increasingly difficult. The person may not realize the need for medical care, or outright refuse it. Some of the common dementia symptoms include anger or defensiveness when you try to confront them about their condition, or spontaneous, out of character behavior. You may begin to notice a decline in your loved one’s personal hygiene, or notice problems with daily tasks, like doing the dishes or laundry. Also, many dementia sufferers may begin to make up stories they believe are true, or rewrite history to fill in the missing details they can’t remember.

Sometimes, it can be difficult to distinguish whether your loved one is simply in denial over their situation or if they sincerely aren’t acknowledging the dementia.  Regardless, your role as a caregiver is to provide them with the help they need, even when they don’t believe they need any help at all. It’s important to realize your efforts to make your loved one understand their condition may be futile, but you still need to keep them safe.

Here are just a few dementia care tips to keep in mind when a loved one has anosognosia:

  • Stick to a schedule. Set up a daily routine and stick to it. This provides structure for the dementia sufferer, and can also allow the caregiver to have some down time to recover from caregiving tasks.
  • Use positive communication. When speaking to your loved one about his or her condition, use gentle and empathetic words. Be as encouraging as possible when helping with daily tasks and seeing them through to completion.
  • Work together. Allow your loved one to feel a level of control by working with him or her on necessary tasks like cleaning or personal hygiene.
  • Minimize responsibilities. Take over some of the responsibilities for your loved one, like balancing the checkbook and paying bills on time, helping with meal preparation, and running errands.
  • Seek outside help. If taking on so many of your loved one’s responsibilities is becoming increasingly difficult to manage, hire a home health aide or look into memory care communities that specialize in dementia treatment.

For more information about memory care through Auguste’s Cottage at American Senior Communities, please visit www.ASCSeniorCare.com/ac.

The Best Leg Exercises for the Elderly

leg exercises for the elderlyIt’s vital that seniors stay active as they age. Exercise can improve mobility, improve your mood and brain health, and most importantly, help decrease your risk of becoming injured from a fall. There are many safe exercises seniors can and should take part in daily, and leg strengthening exercises are particularly beneficial.

Leg exercises for the elderly can help preserve independence and mobility. You use your legs for most daily activities, from getting out of bed in the morning to walking up and down your driveway to get the mail. Leg strengthening exercises help keep your legs flexible and strong, and can also help increase the strength in your lower back to reduce pain. You’ll also find you have more lean muscle mass, less fat and can reduce your risk for osteoporosis by engaging in weekly strengthening exercises.

Types of Leg Strengthening Exercises for Seniors

Before you start with your leg strengthening exercises, talk to your doctor to make sure you are healthy enough to move forward with a program. Many leg exercises don’t require any equipment at all, so they can be done right in your own home. As you progress and get stronger, however, utilizing equipment can add more resistance and help strengthen your muscles even further.

Here are just a few of the best leg exercises for the elderly:

  • Ankle circles: While sitting or standing, lift one leg off the floor and rotate the ankle in a circular motion five times, then repeat rotating in the opposite direction. Do a few sets of this exercise with both ankles to improve ankle flexibility. It’s also a great way to get your lower legs warmed up for more exercises.
  • Step up: Use a 6-inch-high step or box and step up slowly with your right leg. Count to three as you hold and balance, then lower yourself down carefully. Repeat with the left leg, holding on to something for support if necessary. This exercise will help train your balance and coordination.
  • Calf raises: Place a phone book or something of similar thickness on the floor to stand on. Rise onto your toes, holding your heels off the ground for five seconds. Repeat this five times, using the back of a chair for support, and then reposition your feet so your heels are hanging off the phone book. Allow your heels to drop to the floor to feel a good stretch in your calf muscles. This exercise will build up your muscles to give you more stepping power and help carry you up hills or uneven terrain.
  • Leg curl: Stand behind a chair, holding onto the back for support. Place your weight on one leg, then lift the opposite knee, bending it as far as you can, and hold for three seconds. Slowly lower and switch sides. This exercise helps strengthen the hamstring muscles and improve your balance and posture.
  • Squats: You can start off by sitting in a chair and pushing yourself to a standing position, then lowering yourself down slowly. As you get stronger, stand in front of the chair, lowering yourself until you are almost seated, and then stand back up, repeating the movement five to ten times. Squats work your thighs and buttocks and help improve your range of motion.

Choose at least two of the above exercises to add to your physical fitness routine throughout the week, performing them at least twice a week for best results. Don’t get discouraged if it seems to be taking a long time for your leg muscles to strengthen; it usually takes around 4-6 weeks for your body to get used to these new exercises and to see results.

American Senior Communities’ New Energy Wellness program is designed to improve your current fitness level and give you more energy. For more information, please visit www.ASCSeniorCare.com/NEW.

5 Steps to a Healthier Heart

Healthy Heart TipsOur heart is the hardest-working muscle in our body. Because heart disease is a leading cause of death, it’s important to adopt a healthy lifestyle sooner rather than later. Some risk factors can’t be changed, like family history, age and sex, but there are still some key things you can do to improve your overall heart health.

Easy Heart Health Tips

If you’re worried you’re at risk for heart disease, first make an appointment to visit your doctor. Knowing what your “good” cholesterol (HDL) and “bad” cholesterol (LDL) levels, as well as your blood pressure, weight, and body mass index (BMI) is the first step to plan for improving your heart function. Make a follow up appointment for a year later so you can see how much you’ve changed- hopefully for the better!

Improve your heart health with these 5 steps:

  1. Live healthier. Eating a heart healthy diet and getting regular exercise are key to a stronger heart. Studies have shown that women who eat lots of fruits and veggies, whole grains and lean proteins, as well as maintain a healthy weight have a 92% decreased risk of a heart attack compared to less healthy women. Getting your heart rate up for 30 minutes every day by walking, biking, swimming, etc. along with eating right will improve your heart, even if you start in small steps.
  2. Quit those bad habits. If you smoke, it’s time to quit! Smoking tobacco puts you far more at risk of developing heart disease. Talk to your doctor about how best to go about kicking this bad habit once and for all.
  3. Unwind a little. Learn how to relax and unwind for a while every day. If this means turning off the TV or electronic devices, so be it. When we get stressed out, our bodies increase adrenaline and this can overwork our hearts. De-stress by talking to a good friend, exercising, doing yoga, or just sitting quietly looking out the window.
  4. Get some Z’s. Getting plenty of sleep is good for your heart. Sleep allows our bodies to shut down and recover, which is good for all aspects of our health. AS we sleep, our blood pressure and heart rate go down, giving your heart a break. Research shows that people who don’t get enough sleep are more than twice as likely as those getting a good night’s sleep to die of heart disease.
  5. Stay social. For better heart health, exercise with a friend! Having a good social support system not only helps you stay motivated to continue with your workout regimen, but also can lower your risk of heart disease. Studies have shown that people who stay socially active have significantly lower blood pressure and other factors for heart disease than those who are isolated from others.

Adopt a healthier lifestyle today to avoid heart problems in the future!

For more information about American Senior Communities, please visit www.ASCSeniorCare.com.

Eating Out with Diabetes

eating out with diabetesMost people enjoy eating a nice dinner out at a restaurant from time to time. Allowing someone else to do the cooking for you once in a while is one of life’s simplest pleasures. However, if you have diabetes, having another person prepare your meals can easily throw you off the diabetes meal plan set by your doctor.

However, it’s still entirely possible to enjoy eating out with diabetes and stick to your meal plan. It simply takes a little advance planning and knowledge to keep you maintaining a healthy diet.

Sticking to Your Diabetes Meal Plan When Dining Out

Before you head out to dinner, do a little research before even making your plans. Many restaurants these days have nutrition information available on their website, so before you even leave the house check their site and figure out some healthier options to choose from. The type of restaurant you choose is important, too. Try to avoid “all you can eat” buffet types of places, as you may end up tempted to overeat.

Here are a few other quick guidelines to eating out with diabetes:

  • Read the menu carefully. If you can’t view the menu online in advance, make sure you read it through thoroughly once at the restaurant. Some menus note what items are a healthier option.
  • Ask the server questions. If the menu doesn’t spell things out, don’t be shy about asking your services questions about the food. Ask the server how foods are prepared; for example, do they contain added butter or salt?
  • Make special requests. Don’t be afraid to ask to substitute steamed vegetables, a side salad or fresh fruit for French fries or mashed potatoes. You can also request that the portions are measured out to your specific needs and that sauces or salad dressings be served on the side.
  • Watch the carbs. It can be tempting to fill up on bread while waiting for your meal to get served, and while carbs are a necessary part of your diet, you need to make sure you’re choosing high-quality carbs like whole grains to keep your blood sugar level in the target range.
  • Avoid those “extras”. Save on calories by watching the extras like croutons, cheeses and savory sauces and gravy. Make smart substitutions, like mustard for mayo or vinegar and oil for salad dressing.
  • Maintain portion control. A good idea is to ask for a take-home box to be served with your meal, that way you can automatically portion out the right amount and save the rest for later. Portion sizes at many restaurants these days are huge, and are usually plenty for two meals!
  • Drink wisely. Sodas and juices can be full of sugar and add hundreds of calories to your meal. Stick with water with lemon or unsweetened iced tea, or even diet soda. If you’d like to enjoy an alcoholic beverage, have just one and choose a drink that has less carbs, like light beer or dry wines.
  • Make smart choices. Yes, fried food is delicious, but it’s also very high in fat and calories! Choose grilled, broiled, roasted, steamed or baked options instead.
  • Timing is everything. Eating at the same time every day is an important part of your diabetes meal plan. Try to make reservations so you can be sure you’ll be eating at the correct time of day; or avoid busier hours so you won’t have to wait long to be seated.

Enjoy eating out with diabetes all you want! As long as you’re following your meal plan guidelines, there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy a nice dinner in a restaurant as often as you’d like.

For more information about American Senior Communities, please visit www.ASCSeniorCare.com.

The Best Places to Retire

best places to retireAs more and more Baby Boomers start thinking about where to retire, it’s common to think of that typical “snowbird” stereotype. Sure, many seniors do pack up and move South to escape the harsh Midwest winters. But there are some definite perks to staying in place, right here in Indiana.

As a matter of fact, several studies have reported Indiana as one of the best places to retire! Many factors contribute to this nomination, too. First of all, the cost of living in Indiana is 10.7% lower than the national average. The median home price is right around $111,000, and the income tax rate is 3.4%, making it a very affordable state. Plus, Indiana is centrally located- actually nicknamed “The Crossroads of America,” and attracts retirees from all corners of the country.

Not only that, but healthcare in Indiana is excellent, too! We have a number of nationally renowned hospitals, and we are one of five states that place a cap on medical malpractice awards. This keeps healthcare costs down and attracts amazing physicians to the area.

Wondering Where to Retire?

While of course, here at ASC we would recommend retiring to Indiana first and foremost, there are several other states in our beautiful country that consistently rank as top places to retire. Studies from Forbes and Market Watch reveal some overlapping states and cities where many seniors choose to go and live out their golden years for various reasons. Here are just a few of the regions recommended, whether for affordability, climate, population density or economic growth:

  • Texas: Specifically, the cities of Abilene and Austin are highly rated places to retire. Abilene has a lower cost of living and low crime rate, while Austin attracts intellectuals with its bustling art and music scene.
  • North Carolina: The city of Asheville attracts more and more retirees due to its strong economy and good weather. It’s also home to the North Carolina Center for Creative Retirement, which offers more than 250 classes every year just for seniors on everything from Buddhist philosophy to knitting.
  • Idaho: Boise, in particular, is appealing to seniors even though the cost of living is 7% higher than the national average. The economy is strong and serious crime is low. Plus, the state capital boasts a philharmonic orchestra, ballet and opera companies, and the renowned Boise Museum of Art.
  • Wyoming: Wyoming is the least populated state in the nation, but it’s certainly not a barren wasteland. Seniors flock to towns like Casper where they can enjoy hiking, fishing and skiing right outside their front doors. Both the cost of living and unemployment levels are low and the city draws in people from a 100 mile radius for shopping and events.
  • Florida: Florida is usually the first state that comes to mind when people think about where the majority of retirees end up. The warm weather, beautiful beaches and no state income tax draws seniors in. One of the top cities for retirees is Cape Coral, with a lower than average cost of living and 400 miles of canals for those who desire living right on the waterfront.

Where will you choose to retire? Do you enjoy the seasons? Are you looking for somewhere more affordable, where you can downsize and simplify your life? Do you want to remain close to family and friends? Consider the factors that are most important to you before making such a big life decision.

For more information about American Senior Communities, please visit www.ASCSeniorCare.com.

When Should You be Tested for Alzheimer’s?

testing for Alzheimer'sMany people associate memory loss as a normal part of the aging process. It’s true that we can become more forgetful as we age, experiencing what can be called “senior moments.” However, when issues with memory start to disrupt daily life, this may be a sign of something more serious, like Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.

Every person’s symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease will not be the same. However, there are some warning signs to be aware of to know if you should consider going through testing for Alzheimer’s disease.

Early Signs of Alzheimer’s

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, there are 10 main early signs of Alzheimer’s disease that should not be ignored. Again, individuals may experience one or more of these symptoms in varying degrees, but if you notice any of them, it’s time to make an appointment with your doctor.

  • Memory Loss. The most common symptom of Alzheimer’s is memory loss. Do you find yourself asking the same questions repeatedly or forgetting important dates and events? Do you have to leave yourself reminder notes all over the house?
  • Trouble problem solving or planning. Are detailed tasks becoming increasingly difficult, like balancing your checkbook? Do you have problems developing and following through on plans?
  • Completing daily tasks is becoming challenging. Have you been having problems driving to familiar locations? When you gather with friends for a game of cards, are the rules becoming difficult to remember?
  • Confusion in regards to time and place. Are you losing track of dates or not sure what season it is? Have you forgotten where you are or gotten lost easily?
  • Issues with vision. Are you having trouble judging distance or having difficulty reading your favorite newspaper? Are colors becoming hard to tell apart?
  • Difficulty with vocabulary and speaking. Do you often forget words, or make up a new word in its place? Do you have trouble following or joining in on conversations?
  • Losing items or misplacing things. Have you lost the ability to retrace your steps after forgetting where you placed an item? Do you put items in unusual places, like putting your car keys in the freezer?
  • Poor judgment. Are you making poor decisions lately, especially involving money? Have you been taking care of your own personal hygiene as well as you normally would?
  • Social withdrawal. Have you been avoiding social events or your favorite hobbies? Are you lacking motivation to be around others?
  • Personality or mood changes. Are you feeling confused, anxious or getting easily upset? Are you depressed or suspicious of others, even your loved ones?

Testing for Alzheimer’s

If you’re experiencing any of the above symptoms of Alzheimer’s on a regular basis, it’s important to see your doctor and get tested. Early detection will allow a better opportunity for treatment that could help improve your quality of life.

Testing for Alzheimer’s will involve your doctor asking questions about your medical history, diet, and medications as well as procedures like checking your blood pressure  and listening to your heart and lungs. Information from this exam will help rule out other conditions that are similar to the symptoms of Alzheimer’s, like anemia, depression, diabetes, certain vitamin deficiencies, thyroid abnormalities, etc.

Doctors may also perform imaging tests of the brain like MRIs or PETs. An MRI can show if someone has had strokes, tumors or blood clots that may be causing the issue, while a PET scan can show the plaques that build up in brains affected by Alzheimer’s.

There is no single test that can prove you have Alzheimer’s. The diagnosis will be made through an assessment that will consider all the possible causes.

For more information about memory care through Auguste’s Cottage at American Senior Communities, please visit www.ASCSeniorCare.com/ac.

Senior Living Options for Couples

Senior Living Options for CouplesAs couples age, they may begin to find that their individual healthcare needs have started to change. Sometimes one spouse is healthy and independent, while the other has some chronic conditions and requires more assistance with daily activities. In these cases, it’s often that the healthier spouse takes on the care giving duties for the other.

According to the CDC, more than 67 percent of adults age 65 and older are married. These couples have made the pledge to grow old together, in sickness and in health, and often aren’t prepared for the decline in health that can come with aging. When one spouse becomes the primary caregiver, he or she will face mental, physical and emotional demands and may be uncertain how to handle the challenges that come along with this new role in their relationship. Home caregiving duties can take an average of 20 hours a week when it’s provided by an unpaid family caregiver.

The Benefits of Senior Living Communities for Couples

Today, more and more couples are planning for their future healthcare needs by moving into senior living communities. After raising children together and supporting each other through their respective careers, they’re ready to live a more “simple” life and enjoy their retirement to the fullest extent.

Many senior living communities offer a variety of housing options and levels of care. Couples who are active and healthy can move into an independent living community, choosing from options like free-standing garden homes, townhouses, or one- or two-bedroom apartments. Making the decision to move together can make the entire process easier on not only the couple, but also on family members who might be concerned about the future of their loved ones.

For couples who are still able to live mostly independently, senior living communities offer a wide variety of services and amenities. Everything from planned meals in restaurant-style dining rooms, scheduled transportation to social events and activities, help with housekeeping duties, and 24-hour emergency services, these communities make life easy for seniors!

Most communities also allow couples who need different levels of care to live on the same campus. One spouse may continue to live independently, receiving only a minimum amount of care or assistance, while the other may be placed in assisted living or a memory care unit. This means the independent spouse is relieved of any potential caregiving duties, but can still visit and see the other on a regular basis.

Stay Together as You Age

Aging couples should have a discussion about their future living needs as soon as possible, preferably while they are still active and independent. Moving while you’re still healthy can actually help keep you that way! Start by researching some senior living communities near you, and decide what the best option would be for you now, and in the days still ahead.

American Senior Communities welcomes couples in our communities! For more information about American Senior Communities, please visit www.ASCSeniorCare.com.

Swimming for Seniors

Benefits of Swimming for SeniorsYou already know that exercise offers numerous benefits to seniors, including improving your heart health, better flexibility and stronger muscles. Plus, exercise can help lower the risk of injury and enhance our mood and mental acuity.

An exercise that is especially beneficial to seniors is swimming. Water exercises allow the elderly a way to get in better shape without putting added stress or strain on the body.

Health Benefits of Swimming for Seniors

Swimming is an ideal workout for the elderly, mainly because it presents little risk of injury and is low impact. Water exercises work out all the muscle groups in the body, presenting a complete workout for seniors. Here are just a few of the health benefits swimming offers to older adults:

  • Improves heart health. Swimming makes your heart stronger, larger and improves your cardiovascular health and endurance. It will also lower your blood pressure, improve your circulation and help reduce the risk of heart and lung disease.
  • Gentle on the joints. Because swimming is not weight-bearing, it’s easy on the joints for those who suffer from joint pain and discomfort. It’s a full-body workout that keeps the pressure off your hips, knees and spine.
  • Reduces the risk of osteoporosis. Swimming can improve bone mineral density (BMD), which will help fight osteoporosis. This is very important especially for women; a third of women over the age of 50 and a fifth of men experience a bone fracture due to osteoporosis.
  • Increases flexibility. While stretching before and after exercising is a sure way to regain flexibility, the act of swimming itself can also help increase your flexibility in your hips, legs, arm and neck. It can also help improve your posture and alleviate back pain.
  • Improve muscle strength and tone. Every time you move in the water, you’re putting every muscle group to work. Swimming is a great form of resistance training and can help improve your muscle strength- and you’ll also see long, lean muscle tone forming the more you do it!
  • Boosts mental health. Swimming is a great way to reduce your stress levels, boost your mood, and increase your brain function. Plus, because swimming can be a social activity, you’ll avoid the feelings of social isolation and loneliness that can lead to depression in seniors.

Types of Water Exercises

There are four basic types of water exercises those of all ages can enjoy. Water aerobics is offered at many local gyms and fitness centers and are usually tailored to seniors. These usually entail water walking, dancing and other aerobic exercises that resemble classes on land.

Basic swimming is also one of the most beneficial forms of physical activity for seniors. If you’re a little rusty on your technique, sign up for a class and in no time at all you’ll be able to work your way up to swimming for thirty minutes at a stretch.

There are also water resistance exercises, like doing arm curls, leg swings and calf raises, all while in the pool. Instead of standard strength training equipment like weights, the water will act as resistance.

Finally, water relaxation exercises can also assist with lowering heart rate, blood pressure and stress. Aqua yoga and Pilates are common water relaxation methods used in senior swimming classes.

Improve your quality of life by hitting your local pool! As with any new exercise routine, make sure you consult your doctor before you start.

For more information about American Senior Communities, please visit www.ASCSeniorCare.com.

Creative Ways to Trigger Memories in Dementia Sufferers

memory activities for dementiaAfter a loved one has been diagnosed with dementia, many people tend to feel helpless and hopeless, knowing the inevitable future that lies in wait. As their memories start to decline, dementia can cause seniors to withdraw from family and society as a whole, as well as any activities they may have previously enjoyed.

However, helping your loved one maintain their interests and hobbies can actually provide them with a boost in memory and may help reduce some of the worst effects of their cognitive impairment.

Memory Activities for Dementia Patients

Use these memory techniques to help improve quality of life for your loved one:

  • Listen to music. Music has the ability to take us back in time, evoking memories and feelings from the past. Turn on your loved one’s favorite tunes, whether it’s from the big band era or some relaxing classic country music. Music can help not only with cognitive skills, but also with speech, stress reduction, and socialization. Many memory care assisted living communities incorporate music or sing-alongs into their daily activities.
  • Look at photographs. Pull out some old photo albums next time you go to visit your loved one. Point out photos and comment on them, encouraging your loved one to take part in the conversation. Try not to ask specific questions about the photos, however, instead offering commentary that could spark a memory. Things like, “This looks like it was taken in our old backyard” or “I haven’t seen this person since our wedding” could help them recognize places and people on their own.
  • Read a book together. Bring your loved one’s favorite novel with you when you visit and read it to them. Don’t ask if they remember what happens next or how it ends, just keep them engaged as though it was the first time they’ve ever heard the story.
  • Play a game. Keep games simple, like putting together a puzzle or helping them complete a word search or “find and seek” picture puzzle. Allow your loved one to do the majority of the work, but offer your assistance if they begin to show signs of frustration. Or, simply put it away for a later time.
  • Watch old family videos. These days, most people have a large collection of old family videos from days past. Dust them off (you can even consider getting VHS tapes converted to a digital file or a DVD) and watch them with your loved one. Actually seeing these memories right in front of them, much like looking at photographs, could help bring back long-forgotten thoughts and feelings.

The memory techniques that work best will vary depending on the individual. Find the activity that creates that “spark” in your loved one’s eyes and stick to it. It’s important to create meaningful memory activities for dementia sufferers, not just find ways to fill their days and pass the time.

For more information about memory care through Auguste’s Cottage at American Senior Communities, please visit www.ASCSeniorCare.com/ac.

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