May is Mental Health Month, an issue particularly important for older adults and their caregivers. Common concerns for older adults’ mental health include depression and anxiety, both of which can exacerbate physical ailments. Here are three key things you and your loved one can do to improve mental health and overall wellbeing.
Social distancing shouldn’t mean social isolation.
Feelings of isolation are particularly worrisome in older adults, as isolation has been linked to an increased risk of both physical and mental illnesses like depression.
So at a time when we are unable to be together in person, it’s even more important to watch out for and combat signs of isolation. That’s why the team at McKnight Place is making a concerted effort to find new and creative ways to keep residents connected to each other and their families.
In an effort to keep residents engaged while adhering to social distancing policies, McKnight Place is now offering FaceTime and Skype appointments for residents to visit with loved ones and traveling carts with activities like cards, music, literature and puzzles.
The activities staff is currently piloting modified activities such as hallway bingo, hallway exercise and hallway trivia! These modified activities will allow residents to remain in their apartment doorway, see their neighbors, and stay active. And, for the film fanatics who are missing the regular movie screenings, McKnight Place is now offering around the clock movies on their internal tv channels.
Focus on Healthy Food Options
A diet rich in plant-based proteins and fresh fruits and vegetables can be good for heart health and overall physical wellbeing, but did you know healthy foods have also been shown to improve brain health and cognitive function?
At McKnight Place, Executive Chef Anthony Lyons, CEC works with a registered dietitian to ensure the meals he cooks up for residents are both delicious and nutritious.
“I love using fresh herbs and spices for flavoring rather than using unhealthy fats and salts,” Anthony says. “My passion is creating something that both surprises and delights residents. I especially enjoy it when residents share their favorite recipes. My repertoire is constantly expanding because of them, and now many of their favorites are mine, too.”
McKnight Place residents choose from a variety of flavorful, freshly-prepared and well-balanced meals. A sampling of mouth-watering menu options includes pan-roasted duck, shrimp scampi, sautéed scallops and filet mignon.
Artistic self-expression, according to the American Art Therapy Association, helps people reduce stress and manage life adjustments, among other benefits.
McKnight Place art instructor Katherine McAtee explains that creative activity is “an outlet for residents to express themselves nonverbally while developing self-esteem and sensorimotor and cognitive functions.”
Not all of us are the next Michelangelo (although he was creating well into his 80s), but that shouldn’t stop you from trying your hand at it. Knitting, pottery, drawing, and music are all great options for creative activities that can prevent cognitive decline, reduce anxiety and depression, reduce boredom, and improve communication.
“Music is such an avenue for so many people,” says music therapist Samantha Hinson. “It is an emotional experience, and everyone has a connection to music in some way.”
McKnight Place offers residents a variety art and music activities and therapy programs with trained art educators and art therapists. While non-essential therapy sessions are currently suspended, McKnight Place residents can continue to enjoy the benefits of art making during social distancing through individual activities.
We’re here for you.
As a trusted expert in senior living, we’re here for you and your loved one now more than ever. If you’re concerned about the mental health of your loved one, let’s talk. While we are not currently scheduling tours or allowing visitors to enter the community, we are happy to send you more information or speak with you over the phone.
Call us to help you answer questions or just to listen at 314-993-3333 (Assisted Living & Memory Care) or 314-993-2221 (Extended Care).