Beyond Bingo: The Value of Engaging Programming for Memory Loss

We all have hobbies and activities we enjoy. For most of us, these activities give our lives vibrancy and a sense of purpose – whether it’s taking a long walk through the serenity of a forest, knitting a blanket while binge-watching a favorite TV show, or coloring a picture. However, when you think of activities for individuals with dementia, Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of memory loss, what do you imagine? Watching TV? Chair yoga? Playing Bingo, or sitting out on the porch and watching the birds? While these activities are engaging and can be rewarding for people living with memory loss, they’re just scratching the surface of what engaging programming can be. “Too often, individuals living with memory loss like Alzheimer’s disease or dementia don’t have access to meaningful activities, which results in them being disengaged, under-stimulated and bored,” says Robin Crum, Executive Director of YourLife™ of Pensacola, a Memory Care Assisted Living community in Pensacola, FL. “This can result in a further decline in their remaining abilities, increased behavioral problems such as agitation and wandering and an overall lower quality of life.” Providing meaningful activities for individuals – activities that are personalized to a person’s interests, passions and preferences – can help spark enjoyment and participation, increase their sense of purpose and even provide numerous physical benefits. “If you look at dementia solely as a disease, you end up focusing only on the symptoms and how they negatively affect a person. However, when care providers look at memory loss the same way they would a disability, that causes a shift in how care is approached. Instead of focusing on the deficits, you engage people by using the abilities they still have. At YourLife™ of Pensacola, we involve our residents in their own care and provide opportunities for them to shape the path of their lifestyle. This allows us to provide meaningful activities that inspire, engage and uplift our residents each and every day.”

An Approach Based in Research

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs states that we have five levels of needs to be met in order to live a fulfilled life. These needs are physiological (basic biological needs such as food, warmth, shelter, clothing), safety (security, stability, protection from danger), love and belonging (friendship, social interaction, trust, giving and receiving affection), esteem (dignity, achievement, independence, confidence) and self-actualization (realizing potential, self-fulfillment, personal growth). These needs, Maslow states, are what motivate all people, and the desire for them will become stronger the longer they’re denied. In the past, Memory Care focused on fulfilling the basic needs of individuals – the physiological and safety levels of the hierarchy of needs – but focused less on the higher levels. However, over the past decade, there has been quite a bit of research showing that when individuals with dementia are able to feel a sense of purpose to their lives, their quality of life improves greatly. In a recent study published in the journal, Advances in Aging Research, it was discovered that by including meaningful activities into a care plan, individuals with memory loss showed improvement in some of their activities of daily living, had a reduced use of medication and also showed improvements in their moods.

The Benefits of Meaningful Activities and Engaging Programming

Increased Cognitive Health and Mental Stimulation Activities that engage the brain can help slow the progression and improve cognitive functioning for individuals with dementia. By personalizing games and activities to a person’s remaining abilities, they’re more able to see success through their efforts, which is a positive reinforcement. Improved Physical Health Physical activities such as chair exercises, walking or aquatic therapy can improve mobility, increase flexibility, reduce the risk of falls and other related issues and help maintain functioning. Physical activities also can help reduce blood pressure, reduce stress and decrease the risk of heart issues and high blood pressure. Better Sleep Habits Having scheduled activities provides routine, which helps maintain a sense of consistency for individuals with dementia. They can also improve sleep habits by keeping seniors from falling asleep in front of the TV or reducing daytime naps, which would otherwise disrupt sleep patterns. Everyone knows that a good night’s sleep does wonders for our happiness! Higher Self-Esteem Dwelling on the abilities that have diminished can make those with dementia feel incompetent, depressed and worthless. By providing activities that they can accomplish, they have a sense of success, enjoyment and purpose, which increases self-esteem. Decreased Depression and Anxiety Many studies have shown that structured activity programs result in an improved state of mental health for individuals with dementia. A big part of this is because doing group activities promotes socialization, which is an important aspect for mental health. Fewer Behavioral Challenges A study published in the Journal of American Geriatrics Society showed that, when appropriate activities were provided to people with dementia, they showed a significant decrease in challenging behaviors such as agitation, repetitive questioning, argumentative interactions and shadowing.

Creative Expressions at YourLife™ of Pensacola

At YourLife™ Senior Living communities, we recognize that programs and activities play an important role in providing a high quality of life for our residents. We place a great deal of importance on being inspired, learning, growing, being active and being engaged, and we created designated spaces in our community to do just that. These spaces, called Creative Expressions, are well-equipped spaces that allow residents to explore a variety of fun programming and activities, such as flower arranging, painting, music lessons, book clubs, baking exercise programs and much more. “Memory loss doesn’t change who you are as a person,” says Crum. “At YourLife™ of Pensacola, we make sure our Memory Care residents stay true to who they are and live lives that are fulfilled, engaged and inspired. We celebrate your individuality, honoring the qualities that make your life your own, no matter where you are in your journey.” For more information about Creative Expressions or how we provide meaningful opportunities for our residents with memory loss, please contact our team today at 850-898-3334.

The Memory Care Your Loved One Deserves.

Offering the very best in Memory Care, YourLife™ of Pensacola was designed specifically with residents in mind. We’ve created a community where residents can define their own lifestyle, based on their preferences, needs and story, all while having the peace of mind of 24-hour support and the freedom to define their own lifestyles. Because we focus solely on Memory Care, all of our resources and attention are on catering to each resident’s needs while providing unequaled peace of mind for families. Our licensed nurses and YourLife™ Personal Care Specialists are on site 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to provide personally inspired care and support, no matter what your needs. With such dedicated care, our residents have the support they need to live as independently and engaged as possible. At YourLife™ of Pensacola, YourStory comes to life. Whether you want to enjoy our exclusive activities and YourStory programming, spend time exploring our services and amenities, relax in our easy-to-navigate Memory Care neighborhoods and living areas or try something new, the choice is entirely up to you. Contact us to learn more!

Call us at 850-898-3334 for more information or to schedule a personal visit today.