Staying active both physically and mentally is important for people of all ages, but especially important for people with Alzheimer’s or other dementias. Being active keeps you fit, healthy and mentally sharp. Activities are an essential part of care in Alzheimer’s assisted living facilities and are not only required, but also highly sought after by families. For people with Alzheimer’s, structured activities are important to help separate day from night, avoid boredom, and slow memory loss. For this reason, certified Alzheimer’s facilities are required to meet a higher standard with their activity programs than general assisted livings. Specifically, they must provide activity programs that incorporate cognitive activities, recreational activities, and self-care activities. During each weekday certified Alzheimer’s facilities must offer at least one cognitive activity, two recreational activities, and three self-care activities. Each activity must last at least 30 minutes. On weekends certified Alzheimer’s facilities must provide at least 30 minutes of structured activities, including at least one cognitive activity and one physical activity. In contrast, non-Alzheimer’s certified facilities are required to provide an activity or social program at least weekly.
There are a variety of activities that Alzheimer’s seniors participate in each day at assisted livings. Cognitive activities are those that help stimulate a person’s mind. These are important for Alzheimer’s seniors to help enhance thinking and memory skills. Types of cognitive activities include, story telling, reminiscing, reading, word games and puzzles. The second form of activities is recreational activities. This helps to promote exercise and social relationships among seniors and include group board games, group exercise classes and general entertainment. General entertainment varies between assisted living facilities, but most often includes dancing, singing, movie nights, and outside entertainment such as children singing Christmas carols. The last form of activities is self-care activities (also known as activities of daily living). These activities help promote independence among Alzheimer’s seniors as well as give them a sense of purpose and individuality. Self-care activities range from dressing, bathing and eating to gardening and making the bed. Daily tasks tend to be hard for seniors with Alzheimer’s because as the disease progresses, they lose basic motor skills.
All activities have purpose in an Alzheimer’s assisted living. Whether they are used for therapy, entertainment or for the well being of the senior, they are a vital aspect to Alzheimer’s care. When searching for an Alzheimer’s assisted living facility for your loved one, make sure you ask about their activities because as small as they may seem, they make a huge difference in your loved one’s life.