When it comes to caring for the elderly, there are some obvious things that come to mind, and physical health is foremost among them. Given the prevalence of medical conditions relating to the body among the elderly, concerns about broken bones, strokes, and so forth are all vital aspects of care. However, one thing that can sometimes sadly be overlooked is the mental component of elderly care.
Why We Should Care About The Mind
There are a number of reasons to give higher priority to the mental considerations of caring for the elderly. None of us would be happy with a life devoid of distractions and entertainment, of course, but even better than that is active creative work. This is vital not only for ensuring the personal wellbeing of residents in terms of happiness, but can also serve as a crucial part of recovery from an incident such as a stroke, and as a useful tool to help slow the progression of maladies such as Alzheimer's Disease.
Creative activity can best be thought of as doing for the mind what physical activity does for the body - it helps to keep the mind sharp and engaged. Whilst this can be brought about in other, more passive ways, being engaged in the act of creating is more powerful because it engages more of the brain, including parts that otherwise might not always be put to use in daily life. In psychological terms, being creative also helps provide a sense of both usefulness and satisfaction, and it has been said by philosophers since ancient times that the best life is one where people are healthily challenged by creative work.
Types Of Creative Work The Elderly Can Perform
There is a tremendous variety of creative work that a person can engage in, but sometimes the elderly are more limited due to physical or mental conditions in what they can achieve. Here are some of the creative activities the elderly are often able to perform and benefit from, as well as notes on where difficulties may arise;
- Painting can be a wonderful hobby that engages the mind, but it can also be made difficult by conditions which affect the arms or hands, such as a palsy.
- Pottery can similarly be a great way to combine mental and physical activity, but it does require a measure of physical endurance that some elderly people may lack.
- Writing is another superb way to engage the mind. In some cases, dictation could be preferred instead of writing or typing.
- Creating music is a wonderful way to express creativity, as music itself can have beneficial uses as well. In addition it may be possible to engage other residents who play, or are learning to play, instruments.
- There are also a wide array of crafting activities that can be undertaken, ranging from cross-stitching to woodwork to origami.
Whether individually or in groups, and whatever degree of physical activity the work involves, creative activities for the elderly should form a core component of their care. Providing both mental stimulation and emotional satisfaction, it cannot go overlooked.