Lead lifestyle co-ordinator at Cramond Residence, Lisa Sohn, looks at why it is so beneficial for the elderly to keep active, in both mind and body.
One of the things that I love about my job at Cramond Residence is seeing people really enjoying the wide range of experiences and activities that we offer – many of our residents say that they haven’t had so much fun in years!
Some of our guests have come from situations where they were a bit isolated, with only occasional visits from friends and family. They tell me that they tended to be a bit sedentary, just watching the television or reading the odd book. Now that they’ve come to the Residence they’ve been able to pick up new hobbies and new interests and make new friends. Overall, they say that their lives are much richer and more fulfilling.
Such experiences make it clear why being active is key for the health and well-being of those who are getting on in years.
Think of the mind and the body
To deliver the most benefits, activities should involve things for the body and the mind. Physical exercise is really important, but it must be appropriate and not put the person involved under any undue stress.
Simply getting out into the garden or going for a walk in the local park can often make a great difference, and I advise people to set themselves a little challenge to get themselves started (for example, trying to increase the number of steps they do each week).
At the Residence, we also provide weekly exercise classes. Our residents get a lot out of this. So why not search out similar classes near where you live? You’ll find that many health and leisure centres run special classes for those over a certain age.
A cup of tea and a chat
When it comes to the mind, just finding a group of friends to get together with, chat and share a cup of tea, can work wonders. At the Residence, our favourite activities include our reminiscing sessions and our presentations, which are on a wide range of fascinating topics. So again, look out for versions of these near where you live. Many libraries and community centres hold such events.
When thinking about what to attend, don’t just stay in the past. Learn and experience new things. For example, at the Residence, we are now running language lessions and learning about different cultures and festivals – everyone loves finding out things they didn’t know before.
Crafts are a great way to keep both mind and body alert and active, as they combine elements of art with manual dexterity. That’s why our new lifestyle therapist is running lots of arts and craft sessions. We’ve had great success with seasonal themes, such as wreaths for Christmas and Easter egg decoration.
So, if you’re ever in need of inspiration for something to do, take a look at the Calendar – in most months there will be a festival or date that will give you a focus for your creativity.
For those living with Dementia, art, crafts and other types of sensory stimulation can work wonders. It is a total misconception that people living with Dementia can’t take part in such activities – the opposite is true!
You don’t need to be an expert
At the Residence, we get a lot of people who are a bit nervous about trying a new activity as they feel they might not manage. Even people who enjoyed a hobby in their youth – for example painting – can be reluctant to try again.
One of the key things to remember is that you don’t have to be an expert. In fact, trying something for the first time is one of the best ways to ‘feel young’ again. The important thing is to ‘give it a go’ – because, as I hope I’ve shown, being active is a real joy and tonic in itself.