You may not think that small actions like gardening or mixing cookie dough would make much of a difference in the lives of aging adults, but activities that have real purpose can enhance their self-esteem. In fact, studies show that active community engagement is strongly associated with better health and sense of well-being in late life. It’s important to take the following steps to develop activities that match aging seniors’ interests, abilities and needs.
First of all, finding out the right activities means learning about the individual senior’s interests and abilities. At Oasis Dementia Care and The Gardens at Oasis, our innovative Care Connect program allows us to gain a greater understanding of each neighbor, their likes and dislikes, their hobbies, interest and their needs. This helps us match meaningful actives to each specific neighbor. In fact, we do a full physical and cognitive assessment of our incoming neighbors so that we can offer them the best care plan and activities possible.
To determine which activities could really be meaningful to seniors, you have to think about what they enjoy from their favorite music and hobbies to their past experiences or occupations. It’s really about discovering activities that are stimulating, but also not too difficult. Also, it’s important to choose actions that involve simple steps and easy, repetitive movement that meet their physical abilities, in addition to ones that stimulate their senses and hold their interest.
The next step is to adapt activities to fit the ability and communication level of that specific person. You have to take into account their mobility, their sensory processing and give them enough time to complete one step at a time. In order to build self esteem, be there to assist them if necessary, but don’t complete the activity for them. At Oasis, we offer a wide variety of enriching activities that creatively engage and foster social connections. These activities are always monitored and adapted to each neighbor’s ability from arts and crafts to gardening in our raised garden beds.
The final step is to truly engage the senior with a variety of adapted and meaningful activities to meet their physical, cognitive and social needs. If needed, plan shorter activities for those who can’t stay focused as long and pay attention to their reactions. It might be necessary to alter the activity if they are overstimulated or frustrated. Offering engaging activities that bring back good memories and simple joy like helping bake homemade cookies or playing the piano can promote better health, well-being and happiness.
At Oasis Dementia Care and The Gardens at Oasis, we offer purposeful engagement through a variety of activities to our neighbors with dementia, as well as our neighbors in assisted living care. These active and meaningful offerings encourage community engagement and social participation that enhance self-esteem, well-being and overall health. While industry standards are typically 40 hours per week of activities, we offer over 140 hours of different individual and group activities customized to our neighbors’ interests and cognitive levels. Above all else, we want our neighbors to be happy, fulfilled and engaged.