Routine memory care is the bread and butter of every dementia care plan. For many memory care residents, even the slightest alteration of their standard daily regimen can disrupt their perception of reality, bringing on an onslaught of anxiety. While memory care plans vary according to the individual and their needs, every care plan should contain certain fundamental elements that are essential to implementing routine and driving daily activity.
Establishing a structured meal schedule with a balanced nutritional diet according to the resident’s individual needs is one of the most vital aspects of any memory care plan. Eating healthily and regularly can be difficult and stressful for those experiencing memory care issues. Certain foods may not taste as they once did, and preparation may become increasingly difficult to do alone. In severe cases, eating in and of itself can become strenuous. For this reason, those experiencing memory care issues are at a higher risk of rapid weight loss. A wholesome breakfast, lunch and dinner provide a solid framework for nutritional needs and often are accompanied by opportunities for social interaction.
Maintaining the personal health and hygiene of a resident with a memory care plan isn’t solely about ensuring they're bathed and their teeth are regularly brushed. It’s about providing a more intimate level of personal care and helping the resident feel clean, well-groomed and attractive. This can include anything from basic tasks like getting dressed in the morning to assisting with beauty routines, like putting on makeup and styling hair.
Playing music, writing, crafting, drawing, painting, knitting — activities such as these are highly effective in helping memory care residents express themselves freely and artistically. It’s been proven that creative activities help reduce the agitation and boost the overall mood of those suffering with dementia. It breaks up the monotony of the day and often provides a sense of accomplishment and purpose.
Getting out in nature, especially during morning or evening hours, improves overall health on several levels, both physical and mental. Yoga, gardening or even something as simple as going on a walk is a great way to stay in shape and yields several health benefits. Even quiet, serene activities such as outdoor meditation have proven to have very positive results.
Although mental and physical stimulation is of great importance, it’s equally important to not be too insistent on filling every minute with an activity. Everyone needs time to kick their feet up and wind down at some point throughout the day, and memory care residents are no different. Tranquil activities like taking a nap or listening to music or an audiobook are some fantastic activities for decompressing and re-centering.
Albeit some memory care residents struggle with short-term memory loss, in some cases their long-term memory may still remain fairly intact. As a caretaker or loved one, you can help strengthen certain cognitive functions in a resident by setting time aside to reminisce with them about their past, whether in the form of digging up old photographs and videos or simply talking to them about their life and listening to old stories. These memories are often comforting and reassuring to the resident and produce a sense of biography that can help re-coordinate cognitive processes pertaining to memory recall.
Intellectual pursuits and puzzles are another aspect of memory care plans that helps keep a resident’s cognitive ability sharp. They also introduce fun social interaction aspects into the equation. Crosswords, jigsaw puzzles, Sudoku, and card and board games can stir up liveliness and animation and revitalize the mind and spirit of a resident with memory-related difficulties.
These are just a handful of activities and pastimes that have proven to be effective in building a fruitful and constructive memory care plan. The most important aspect of scheduling and executing an individualized care plan is to implement activities that continually provide the resident with a sense of biography, support and independence. This is crucial in cementing their sense of identity and by extension, the memories that come with it.
If you’re a close friend, relative or caretaker of someone suffering from memory care issues, there are several things you can consider and do to support your loved one and facilitate their cognitive health.
Dementia and other related memory care issues can be a difficult and scary territory to navigate for both the individual experiencing it and their loved ones witnessing it, but with the right amount of open communication, research and personalized routine care, these obstacles can be overcome.
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