As we age, it’s not uncommon to struggle with finding activities and routines that benefit us the most. If it’s difficult to get out of the house, you may not want to participate in activities outside of the home or away from your senior home care aide. Thankfully, though, science has come a long way in understanding how our activities improve–or negatively affect–our lives.
Exercise can be a fantastic mood booster! As we work out, we release endorphins. These happy chemicals can reduce pain, chase away stress and improve both mood and mental health. Exercising also has the added effect of naturally strengthening our cardiovascular system and reducing blood pressure.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, seniors should be getting around 150 minutes of moderate physical activity each week. The best part of needing to exercise that much is there are so many workout options to choose from. Low impact exercises like biking, walking and tai chi are great ways to get moving without putting too much pressure on the body. Other options include yoga, swimming, dancing and even housework. For example, vacuuming is a great whole-body workout! It even targets your core.
Working out is easier to stick to when friends are involved. Taking a class with friends can help get those receiving senior home care out in the community. Community centers or places like the YMCA often have senior-focused sessions as well as workouts tailored to maintaining a healthy body at any age.
From a little competition to bringing people together, games are powerful. What many people don’t know, though, is that they have a number of health benefits, especially for seniors.
Board games help to activate two key parts of your brain–the hippocampus and the prefrontal cortex. This helps boost memory and stave off the effects of dementia and Alzheimer’s. They can also boost our immune systems, reduce stress and improve our coordination and dexterity. Mental health and mood often get a boost from games as well, especially when playing with others.
Games that are more mentally challenging include Sudoku puzzles, spelling games like Scrabble and crossword puzzles.
Sitting down and opening up a good book is a great way to get lost in another world. Books can be a great distraction, motivate us to accomplish our goals and even help us sleep more soundly. They’re also wonderful stress relievers!
All it takes is six minutes of reading to slow our heart rates and reduce our stress levels. Reading also engages our brains in a way no other activity can do. That alone has been shown to improve memory and slow Alzheimer’s progression. Challenging texts may yield more benefits.
There’s a reason you feel comfortable and at ease after spending time with friends. Even talking with friends over the phone or internet can help reduce stress in our lives. People who spend time with friends are more likely to have more confidence, less anxiety and a reduced likelihood of depression. It can also help us live both longer and fuller lives.
One concern many people receiving senior home care have is socialization. The myth is that people may not be around their peers as much at home. Thankfully, there are still many ways to be social, especially with the aid of an assisted home health caregiver. Activities like going to religious services, taking courses and meeting friends to exercise or play games are all easily achievable.
Learn a new language or how to play a new instrument
Speaking another language brings us more opportunities to socialize, engage our minds and really challenge ourselves. Through learning languages, you may be less likely to get caught up in the everyday versus setting your eyes on a long-term goal. It can also help improve your decision-making skills and make it easier for you to understand new information.
Learning to play an instrument is pretty similar to learning another language. Music is, after all, the one universal language, so it’s no surprise that it brings many of the same benefits. After learning a new instrument, people are able to process information more quickly and, depending on the instrument you pick up, can help improve dexterity in your hands and fingers.
A major benefit to receiving senior home care is the ability to keep your furry loved ones. The best part about that, though, is how much healthier pets can make us. Studies have shown that interacting with pets can lower anxiety, improve mental health and satisfy a large part of the social interaction we need. Petting a dog, for instance, can release endorphins that lower stress, heart rate and blood pressure.
Pets can help us stick to a routine. From feeding them at the right times to taking them outside for walks, pets also bring owners a feeling of belonging and purpose. Giving love to and taking care of an animal can vastly improve someone’s quality of life.
Arts and crafts
Art brings with it a way to express ourselves without words. Like music, the emotions art can elicit can be felt regardless of where you live and what language you speak. It can be a lot easier for someone struggling with memory issues, too, to pick up a brush and express themselves in images rather than words.
The most wonderful thing about art is how it can open our minds. Interpreting or creating art means using multiple parts of your brain while physically creating. It’s really a great activity for mind, body and soul. The small movements we need to do with arts and crafts can improve our coordination, too. Art therapy can be vital for anyone, but especially as we age to keep our bodies and minds going strong.
Even if you receive home health assistance, you can always take a course through a local parks and recreation system. Knitting, sewing, painting and coloring are all great ways to engage with art, express your feelings and grow.
Most importantly, have fun
Playing and having fun are two of the most important and healthy things in life. They can help us to improve our mood and relieve stress. The reality is that the more activities we engage in during our senior years, the more benefits we’re going to receive. From lowering stress to strengthening our minds, the sky’s the limit!