One of the biggest mistakes that family and professional caregivers can make when caring for a person who has dementia is to assume that their personality and experiences have been wiped clean, essentially giving their life a clean slate; it has not. A senior who has dementia is still the same person at their core, even if they drift in and out of memories at times.
Senior mental health has its own unique challenges that many of us cannot yet recognize. It’s common for family members to confuse a senior loved one’s symptoms of apathy, depression and anxiety as symptoms of dementia rather than a mental health issue.
While there have been advances in mental health treatment over the last few decades, a stigma still exists around addressing it. Seniors may feel especially reluctant to bring up these issues as they may be dismissed or grouped with other physiological conditions and ignored. What’s worse is that mental health has an impact on physical health and vice versa. Left untreated, depression can cause further damage to a senior’s already declining health.
Creating art offers these health benefits for people of all ages, but it offers a special opportunity for aging seniors to find control and purpose in their life again.
As some seniors age, they can develop chronic illnesses that can negatively affect every aspect of their life. In this post we’ll explain more about how using art as a form of therapy helps improve aging seniors’ mental health, cognitive abilities, and sensory-motor functions.
According to The Alzheimer’s Association, 6/10 people with Dementia will wander. Wandering is one of the least manageable and most emotionally draining behaviours that caregivers must address. You have a million tasks on your plate, and caring for an aging loved one is stressful enough without the worry that they will get lost when you look away. Even if a senior with dementia promises to you that they will not wander away, the sad reality is that they have no control over it. As the disease progresses, their memory and reasoning skills can be so affected that they become lost in familiar places and don’t think to ask for help.
Research has not been able to provide a definitive reason why people with dementia wander, and the main reasons could be related to the changes in their memory, but the tendency to wander is also linked to unmet needs and overstimulation.
Gardening is a great form of therapy and exercise that provides benefits like stress relief, improved mood, positive self-esteem, increased strength and mobility, better heart health, improved dexterity, and it even reduces the risk of developing dementia. With some modifications to tools, and an altered garden layout, seniors gardening into their golden years is possible.
You may have a loved one or know someone suffering from Alzheimer’s as there are 5.7 million Americans currently living with the disease. Alzheimer’s and other dementias have many unique challenges that can affect seniors in different ways such as sundowning. Sundowning is a symptom for people with Alzheimer’s or other dementias that has multiple causes and displays differently for each individual. Sundowning can be alarming for the seniors who experience it, and for their families and caregivers who witness it happening.
This post will introduce you to a series of potential strategies you can use to decrease the magnitude of these challenges, offering suggestions to manage the symptoms of sundown syndrome to lessen the sense of apprehension that each day's sunset might be bringing you.