Freedom Home Care is one of the leading organizations providing home care in Chicago, the North Shore, and throughout northern Illinois. I wrote many articles for the company's blog, which appears to no longer be active. I have included examples of my work for the client below. 

Tips To Summer Fun With Alzheimer’s

Rita Altman, Senior Vice President of Memory Care services for Sunrise Senior Living in Pennsylvania, recently wrote for Huffington Post a list of recommendations on how to keep summertime activities safe and enjoyable for those living with memory loss.

Citing research suggesting that singing and playing music contributes to memory retention,Altman recommends playing "music from summers past" at family gatherings. And when it comes to physical activities, Rita says that those living with dementia can — and should — participate, but most activities will need a little tweaking. Inclusion in these activities is important for people living with memory loss.

"The key is to make [them] feel engaged and successful," she writes. This may mean that, instead of playing a full game of golf, consider switching to a putting green. Mental and physical challenges and stimulation are vital for those living with memory loss, since they help with oxygen flow and cognition. Rita also recommends gardening — an activity that isn't too physically demanding and that anyone can enjoy. 

No summer in the United States feels complete without Fourth of July fireworks, but Altman warns that loud noises and big crowds can cause confusion and anxiety for those living with memory loss — so consider watching the fireworks from a distance or on television as an alternative. As long as you do it together, the tradition becomes a sustained and happy one. 

Family reunions tend to happen in the summer, but reunions — where remembering names and faces is a constant demand — can be very stressful for people suffering from dementia. Everyone should be prepared in advance to work together, and people living with Alzheimers should be open and honest when they can't remember someone's name. Also, find a good place to sit apart from the activity and rest — a break from the bustle can be necessary. 

As a final precaution, Altman writes that the higher summer temperatures can cause dehydration — a warm-weather problem for everyone, especially seniors. Altman recommends educating yourself on the signs of dehydration and sipping water constantly throughout the day. 

While summertime activities may need a little altering — and some activities may need to be stopped altogether — it is vital to include everyone, including loved ones with dementia, because the positive effects of spending time together are boundless. 

Talking To College Students Is Good For You

It is perhaps a well-known fact that storytelling and sharing from one generation to another is good for everyone, young and old. But a new study has put it to the test, and has found that it is especially good for older adults on multiple levels — mentally, emotionally, and physically.

The study focused on writing workshops for older adults living at home and in retirement communities. These workshops were conducted in group settings where adults were prompted to write"life reviews," a form of memoir and personal writing.

Thirty-nine seniors were randomly assigned to two distinct groups: one group that went through the writing workshop and stopped there, and another group that, after the workshop, spent four weeks meeting with a group of college students studying health sciences. This second part of the survey was called “intergenerational exchange.”

During the initial writing workshop, both groups met for regular sessions for eight weeks. During the sessions, study author Tracy Chippendale, assistant professor of occupational therapy at New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, gave the participants writing prompts, tips, and feedback.

After the writing workshop was concluded, the group selected for the "intergenerational exchange"met with a group of college students once a week

for 90-minute sessions. At the meetings, the seniors read pieces of their writing to the students and participated in group discussions about their work and their lives. 

Using questionnaires and written responses, the researchers gathered information about the seniors before the writing workshop, after the workshop, and after the discussion meetings with the students. 

Here's what they learned: the adults that interacted with students reported an increased sense of purpose, increased happiness, lower symptoms of depression, and greater cognitive function. The group that didn't meet with college students was essentially unchanged, although some individuals did report lower symptoms of depression and increased happiness from the writing workshop alone. 

Those who met with the college students reported an increased desire to learn and share their experiences, and despite generational and cultural differences, nearly all their views of the students they interacted with were positive. 

Whether it be through writing"life reviews" or meeting regularly with college students, we believe that connecting with others is vital at every age. Freedom Home Care is always looking for new methods and strategies for our clients to achieve wellness, and we take pride in our investment in personalized and alternative therapy. Visit us today to find out how we can best meet your needs. 

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