Use it or lose it. That’s the basic philosophy behind maintaining cognitive abilities later in life. For busy adults, this can be easy enough. Days are filled juggling work, appointments and household chores, providing plenty of stimulation to keep cognitive thinking skills sharp. I, however, often see seniors adjusting to a slower daily pace and it can take more effort to create opportunities to exercise these skills regularly. According to a major study completed by the Institute for Aging Research (IFAR) at Hebrew SeniorLife, it is worth that extra effort.
I’m always impressed by seniors in our community and their commitment to healthy living. As Orchard Cove’s Vitalize360 coach, I regularly have the opportunity to help residents set and work on personal goals. It’s exciting to witness an 86-year-old woman recover from a hip fracture and commit to improve her physical fitness by taking on new activities such as swimming and Zumba. Sometimes, the goals are not related to fitness. I’ve watched watch a man revitalize his work as an artist at the age of 79 and discover new passions, such as singing in our choral group.
It’s always a pleasure to watch younger and older generations interact, especially when witnessing the special bonds between grandparents and their grandchildren. These relationships are mutually beneficial and can be strengthened by frequent, quality interactions and even long distance communications.
Picture this – a husband and wife who can no longer communicate due to dementia begin individually swaying to music, unaware of each other’s presence. Within minutes, the gentleman is leading his wife in a dance and they joyfully move together in a sweet reunion of sorts. It’s a beautiful and true moment – one that captures the ability of expressive therapies to connect with our patients on levels not always possible.