Even though it can be difficult to watch your senior loved one experience vision loss, the brain has a remarkable ability to adapt. Regions of your loved one’s brain that are devoted to visual processing can rewire themselves to interpret other sensory signals. This capacity to adjust is called neuroplasticity and it results in a heightened perception of sound, aroma, taste, and texture.
If your loved one has limited vision, he or she may require assistance to accomplish daily tasks. Some seniors need occasional assistance at home, and oftentimes the family members who take care of them need time away to run errands, take a nap, go to work, or take a vacation. Nashville, TN, respite home care experts from Home Care Assistance are available on an as-needed basis, giving your family peace of mind that your loved one will remain safe and comfortable while you relax or focus on other important responsibilities.
Even while living with impaired vision, your loved one can continue to savor life with the other senses. Here are 5 activities that can bring joy to your loved one.
1. Caring for Plants
Growing indoor plants can be gratifying for your loved one. Even with reduced vision, he or she can enjoy the fresh scents of earth and leaves. Your loved one may still perceive colors and enjoy watching new growth emerging. By touching the soil to assess dryness, he or she will know when to water.
Tending plants can enhance quality of life by reducing anxiety, boosting mood, calming the mind, and lowering blood pressure. By absorbing pollutants, plants clean the air. By releasing moisture, they raise humidity, reducing the incidence of colds.
Generally, blooming plants need bright light from a sunny window or grow lights. Non-flowering plants tend to need less light. Easy to care for houseplants include African violet, aloe vera, English ivy, peace lily, philodendron, pothos, and spider plant.
If your loved one can provide herbs with the bright light they need, they are especially gratifying to grow. Your loved one will delight in their vibrant aromas and tastes. Low-maintenance herbs include basil, chives, lemongrass, mint, oregano, parsley, rosemary, and thyme.
If your loved one has space for a garden, raised beds are ideal because they provide close access to plants. Living alone at home in the golden years can present a few unique challenges. Trust in Nashville senior care professionals to help your senior loved one maintain a higher quality of life while he or she manages an illness and performs the daily tasks of living.
Singing provides a workout for the brain and lungs. It can make breathing easier and enhance posture. Your loved one may also benefit from better immunity and a happier mood.
Group singing is exhilarating because it affects several hormones. The oxytocin relieves anxiety and stress and the endorphins produce energy, fulfillment, and calm. Studies show singing regularly can lower the stress hormone cortisol.
Play your loved one’s favorite recordings, and encourage him or her to sing along. If your loved one is religious, take him or her to services to sing hymns. Joining a choir can help bring the security of belonging to a group. Sheet music can be enlarged on a photocopier if needed. Also, invite family and friends over for periodic sing-alongs.
Moderate physical activity slows cognitive decline by revving circulation to the brain. It can prevent many age-related diseases, such as stroke, diabetes, colon cancer, osteoporosis, and heart disease. Regular exercise can also expedite wound healing by 25 percent and increase your loved one’s balance so he or she is less likely to fall.
Aerobic exercise benefits the heart. Examples of aerobic exercise include walking, swimming, and riding a stationary bike. Tandem biking is an outdoor aerobic exercise you can share with your loved one.
To maintain muscle strength, your loved one can use hand weights and resistance bands. The gentle stretches of yoga and tai chi increase muscle tone, flexibility, and balance. Dancing is especially fun. All forms of exercise reduce stress, boost immunity, elevate mood, and enhance digestion.
Before your loved one starts an exercise routine, discuss your plans with his or her primary physician and eye doctor. Some medical and eye conditions can be impacted by lifting, bending, and rapid movement.
4. Assembling Jigsaw Puzzles
Even if your loved one has cataracts, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, or macular degeneration, he or she can still complete jigsaw puzzles designed for people with low vision. Such puzzles are cut into large pieces and are easy to handle and place. If your loved one has arthritis, manipulating the pieces can help keep his or her joints limber. It also increases coordination.
Doing jigsaw puzzles engages both brain hemispheres. The analytical left side perceives the separate pieces and logically sorts through them. The creative right side works on the big picture. Exercising both sides of the brain simultaneously helps develop connections between them.
The resulting circuitry enhances learning, problem-solving, and memory. Fitting pieces together triggers the release of dopamine, a hormone that spurs joyful emotion. Completing a puzzle is fulfilling and can give your loved one a sense of accomplishment.
If a puzzle isn’t too challenging, it’s relaxing. The meditative concentration calms the mind. It also helps reduce blood pressure, heart rate, and respiration.
5. Playing Adapted Board Games
Adaptive dominoes have raised black dots on white playing pieces. The ends of each domino are divided by a raised black line. To further contrast the pieces, cover a table with a dark cloth. Felt material in navy, green, and black won’t cause glare, and the material keeps the pieces in place.
Braille and low-vision Monopoly games have cards with braille and large print. The board comes with an overlay, aiding the identification of spaces and properties. The perimeter of each space is labeled in braille and print and the instructions are also in braille.
With Deluxe Chinese Checkers, the playing pieces have different shapes and colors, fitting into holes on a wooden board. Other games adapted for low vision are Bingo, chess, cribbage, Scrabble, Rummikub, and Tic-Tac-Toe. Card decks with enlarged numbers, letters, and suits for card games are another option.
Adapt the activities for limited vision and encourage your loved one to participate in them. Consider hiring a professional caregiver who can assist your loved one with tasks around the house. Trained caregivers can also work with seniors who have age-related conditions such as Parkinson’s or dementia. Many families have no experience in specialized home care for seniors, which can make life a bit more challenging when an elderly loved one is diagnosed with dementia. The Nashville, TN, dementia care experts at Home Care Assistance are here to help. We designed a program called the Cognitive Therapeutics Method, which uses mentally engaging activities to slow the progression of dementia, and all of our live-in and respite caregivers are expertly trained in dementia care. Call one of our qualified Care Managers at (615) 326-9849 to learn more about our services and how they can benefit your loved one.