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Are you considering different memory care communities in Manassas, VA for a loved one? Did you know that one of the most important aspects of an exceptional memory care program are the activities offered there? People living with dementia, such as Alzheimer’s disease, are more likely to slip into isolation or an inactive, detached lifestyle. That’s why the senior living communities you consider should emphasize offering meaningful, engaging, and fun activities to their residents.

If you’re wondering how you can assess if the activities offered in a community, are right for your loved one, read on. We’ll explain what to look for in dementia-friendly activities. We’ll also share how you can weigh how valuable an activity might be for someone living with dementia, and how to know if your loved one is enjoying them.

Visit the Community

The first step for any senior living community you’re considering in Manassas, VA is to schedule a free tour. You may take your loved one with you or first go by yourself (or with other family members). This depends mostly on your situation, and most communities allow multiple visits to ensure the fit is right. When you are there, talk directly to the community’s engagement directors. Ask them if you can see an example (or actual) schedule of activities for their dementia residents. This will give you and your family a good start to evaluating the activities they offer.

Review the Amount of Activities Offered

As you get a glimpse into dementia residents’ activity schedules, pay attention to the number of activities offered in a given week. Also, take note of how many varying and repetitive activities there are. Seniors with dementia need variety in their days to keep them from sinking into monotony. However, it’s also important for dementia residents that their schedules and daily activities are recurring. This makes it easier for them to recognize activities and recall the joy they had engaging in them the last time. It's also crucial that residents are not getting overwhelmed with too many choices.
While you’re there, also ask community directors if activities are mandatory, encouraged, or offered on a very liberal basis. This will help you determine if dementia care staff is there to actively inspire and support residents, or if they only do the bare minimum. It can also help you gauge if the community’s staff is patient and compassionate and ensure the community’s environment isn’t forced or pressuring.<

Evaluate the Type of Activities Offered

One of the most important things when it comes to activities for seniors with dementia, is that they are mentally enriching and stimulating. The most exceptional dementia care communities create custom activities for their residents. They are specifically designed to help people with dementia have a rewarding and enjoyable experience.
Look for activities that are both visual and have physical elements to touch. Easy puzzles (such as children’s puzzles) are a great example of an enriching, visual activity. Puzzles can help residents literally put together the pieces of an image or place. Also, see if the community includes auditory elements, such as sharing or making music with the residents. Music has been shown to provide a number of wonderful benefits to people living with dementia (as well as their family members). Arts and crafts projects are another great way to stimulate positive feelings in dementia residents. They often bring out lots of joy in participants as they can use their own hands, and have something beautiful to look at and that they created.
Also, ensure that the community includes plenty of outside time and fresh air (ideally coupled with light physical movement) in their activities for memory care residents. One of the activities to have shown tremendous benefits to seniors, is gardening.
As you evaluate the type of activities offered, look for elements that bring joy, positive associations, and do a body well. Light exercise, touching pleasant materials, time in nature, creating something the person finds to be beautiful or appealing, and lightly stimulating tasks.

Are Activities Overwhelming?

People with dementia can get overstimulated when situations are too loud, bright, or stressful in any other way. It’s important to know a memory community is not wearing out their dementia residents, or offering too much. Study the community’s environments (rooms, decorations, etc.) in which activities take place. See if anything there could be potentially irritating to your loved one with sensitivities. For activities that are taking place outside, make sure that the right weather protections are in place for everyone.

Observe Residents in Activities

If possible, while you’re on your memory care community tour, ask to see if there are any activities that are currently taking place. Ask directors if you and your family may be allowed to take a peek to observe the events for a bit. You can learn a lot from watching residents directly engage in different projects in the Manassas community of your choosing. You can also observe how care staff interact with residents and how engaged everyone seems to be. Pay attention to see if you can spot smiles or dull expressions on both residents’ as well as staff’s faces.
Are you curious about more features in memory care communities in the Manassas area? Wondering about the best care options for your loved one, and what type of community might suit them best? Download our free checklist, the Dementia Care Checklist. This printable checklist can help you and your family evaluate different communities and features that matter to you. So you can make the best choice for your situation. Get the free checklist here!

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The Arbor Company

About the Author: The Arbor Company

Through a commitment to developing an outstanding and tenured staff, The Arbor Company maintains a progressive clinical and competitive edge that embraces both resident and family needs.

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