Dementia is a disease that gradually affects areas of short-term and long term memory loss in adults that are typically 65 or over. While dementia can be inevitable in many older individuals, there are many different strategies that can be applied that both reduce the rate at which the memory loss occurs, and helps retain memories the individual has.
Memory games can be extremely helpful in the strengthening of memory for dementia and Alzheimer’s individuals. Emphasis on exercising both the mind and body can help prevent forgetfulness and improve clarity.
- Games that include matching pictures of people, objects or animals with their corresponding name gives memory care participants a visual component to connect to a word. This is especially recommended for flash cards that might include family members, everyday items or exotic animals.
- Card games are one of the most popular forms of entertainment and memory exercise at Oxnard Family Circle’s Memory Care Unit. Card games have been proven to be especially effective with memory care individuals because they require memory skill and also give the participant a chance to play in a group setting. While playing cards can provide a cognitive exercise that requires focus and information retention, playing in a group also promotes social stimulation and interaction.
- Another great memory and socialization exercise is having the memory care participant memorize short poems, sayings, or songs. After going over the song or phrase a few times together, state the first sentence in the phrase and have the participant reply with the following sentence. This can also be done with music by playing the first few notes of a piece with the individual, and having them play the next set of notes on their own instrument.
- Crossword puzzles, wordsearches and sudoku all help promote higher levels of thinking and use visual stimulation to help improve memory and cognitive functioning. Games like Scrabble can be played in a group to help encourage social interaction as well as memory strengthening. Oxnard Family Circle ADHC makes sure to provide many different forms of puzzles and memorization games to help strengthen the minds of not only memory care participants, but all individuals within the center.
- Reminiscence exercises, such as showing video footage or photos of significant events or people from a time the participant may be familiar with. This may help them relate personal experiences or feelings that they had during the time of that particular event. Playing some favorite music from the participant’s youth may also evoke nostalgia and memories that might not have otherwise been recalled.
Another important aspect of maintaining a healthy mind is maintaining a healthy body. Research has shown that regular exercise can often slow or prevent the onset of dementia because it improves the function of the cardiovascular system and keeps blood flowing to the brain. Regulating blood sugar is also pertinent to the prevention of dementia. Blood sugar levels affect the hippocampus in the brain, which is vital to memory retention.
- 30 minutes of exercise per day is recommended for people of all ages, but especially older adults and memory deficient individuals. Taking walks or doing aerobics can help improve blood circulation and alleviate stiff joints. Oxnard Family Circle ADHC provides an exercise area with various full-workout machines and other exercise equipment. For those with memory problems, exercise can help muscle control, balance, and even help improve confusion and irritability.
- Recently, Oxnard Family Circle ADHC implemented the use of the Nintendo Wii in physical activity for memory care, dementia and Alzheimer’s patients. Games such as bowling, golfing, and tennis promote both exercise and muscle memory, as well as social interaction as many of the games can be played with a group. The Wii also has the advantage of having many games that can be played sitting down to ensure that even participants who are in wheelchairs can join in. Use of the Wii can promote muscle memory, range of motion, and mental stimulation.
Here, participants at Oxnard Family Circle ADHC play a group game of bowling.