Seniors living alone are prone to outdoor isolation, especially after the loss of a spouse or friends. This sense of isolation can increase if seniors rarely leave home. Many seniors take advantage of group activities such as book clubs or volunteering to maintain social interaction, but spending time with nature, even alone has the potential to battle loneliness and foster a happier state of mind.
While some seniors are able to perform physical activities outdoors, such as riding bikes or playing tennis, others may be restricted due to physical limitations. However, there is a myriad of outdoor activities to be enjoyed adaptable to all levels of physical ability:
- Paint a picture — Take an easel with paints, canvas and chair to the back yard or park and paint a picture of the scenery.
- Garden — Container gardens are best for those with limited physical abilities. Full-scale gardens can be added to back yards for those able to be more active.
- Take pictures — Easy-to-use digital cameras do not cost much for the fun they inspire. Sunrises, sunsets, beaches, parks, people, flowers in the neighborhood…the sky is the limit when becoming a photography buff. Arranging pictures in albums later can become a fun activity, sparking interesting conversations and memories.
- Go fish — Fishing is a treasured pastime for many men and women. Local beaches, lakes and some ponds are available to the public.
- Build something – Build birdhouses or simple water features in the back yard, which can offer a fun activity with benefits to be enjoyed long after the building is complete.
- Play games — Easy-to use-outdoor games include croquet, horseshoes of the plastic variety and corn hole (bean bag toss).
All of these activities can be and should be, performed with friends, family, and/or caregivers. Participating in any activity with other people fosters closeness, a greater sense of self, and something to look forward to for all involved. The memories created when spending time together can make all the difference in the world, not just in the life of a senior, but for friends and family of all ages.
As scary as it sounds, a diagnosis of dementia is not always terrible news. Dementia can be caused by a variety of problems, sometimes something as simple as a vitamin deficiency, or a reaction to a new drug.
What It Is Dementia?
Some forms of dementia can be cured as easily as adjusting a medication prescription or adjusting diet, and may not have permanent effect – especially if the problem is caught in time.
Dementia doesn’t refer to one specific disease. Instead, it refers to a whole host of ailments that affect thought, communication and daily functioning. Diseases categorized under “dementia” often come with serious cognitive declines and the degradation of memory.
Diseases that cause dementia include: Parkinson’s Disease, Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, Huntington’s Disease, dementia with Lewy Bodies, vascular dementia, and Alzheimer’s. Most diseases that cause dementia present similarly, almost identically.
However, there are some differences if you know what to look for, especially in the early stages. Early Alzheimer’s disease, for example, is usually characterized by forgetfulness. Other symptoms can include repetition of the same stories and questions, often word for word; confusion; and changes in personality.
With dementia with Lewy Bodies, for instance, patients see a reduced attention span, repeating visual hallucinations, and temporary periods of confusion, as well as rigid muscle movements similar to Parkinson’s Disease. Early Alzheimer’s disease is typically characterized by a forgetfulness not always seen in dementia with Lewy Bodies, although this can vary.
Vascular dementia, which can occur after a heart attack or stroke, is characterized by a marked impairment in judgment in the early stages, although symptoms can vary depending on the part of the brain affected by damaged blood vessels.
Frontotemporal dementia, which is a degeneration of the cells in the brain’s frontal lobes caused by a variety of rarer diseases, is typically characterized by changes in personality in the early stages.
However, the difference between all of these and other causes of dementia can be subtle, even in the early stages, they tend to look more similar as the disease progresses. Usually, when a patient receives an initial diagnosis of dementia, they are getting diagnosed for a set of symptoms, such as when the doctor can see there’s a rash, but does not know whether the underlying cause is a disease, an allergy, or some other ailment.
Doctors can identify the impaired cognition, functioning, or communications that come along with dementia, but it takes more work to discover what is causing these symptoms.
In summary, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease can look very similar, but they are not the same. Simply put, Alzheimer’s disease is one out of many causes of dementia. Not all types of dementia are a life sentence, but Alzheimer’s is a disease that affects patients for the rest of their lives, and is one of the worse diagnoses to get. Unfortunately, it is also the most common. Even so, knowing the differences between these two terms can help you plan for the future and understand the progression of your or your loved one’s disease.