8 Activities to Boost Mental Health in Seniors - with a Halloween Twist

Sep 26th, 2018

Staying active, challenging your brain and preserving cherished holiday traditions are a few important ways to boost mental health later in life. But for some seniors, adjusting to a new season of life can be difficult, especially if they are also managing mental health issues. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, more than two million Americans age 65 and older suffer from some form of depression.

Addressing depression and other behavioral health issues in seniors is important because many are also managing chronic conditions. If left untreated, seniors battling depression have an increased risk of neglecting medication regimens, failing to keep doctor’s appointments and reducing physical activity.

The key to easing the aging process for seniors is continued engagement, both physically and mentally. During the fall, this could mean engaging in good, old-fashioned Halloween fun. These eight spooky activities to boost senior mental health are easy to do at home or in a residential facility:

  1. Play Spooky Songs: Queue up “Monster Mash!” Listening to music has been proven to be a successful tool in managing anxiety and depression and increasing cognitive function in seniors with Alzheimer’s disease.
  2. Crafty Creations: Painting improves hand-eye coordination and creates a sense of accomplishment for the artist. Choose a fall landscape or a whimsical pumpkin for residents to copy. Be sure to complete this activity early in the month so the art can be used as delightfully creepy decorations throughout October.
  3. Howl at Werewolves: Alright, not actual werewolves. If possible, coordinate a service dog visit to ease stress and invoke memories of past pets. Studies show that pet therapy has been associated with decreased behavioral issues and reduced loneliness.
  4. Story Time: Encourage seniors to exercise their memory by writing about their favorite past costume or evening spent trick-or-treating with their family. For those who have difficulty physically writing, assign a partner who can be their scribe.
  5. UnBOOlievable Costumes: Costumes aren’t just for kids this Halloween. Actively using different areas of the brain is important in retaining cognitive function as seniors age. Have residents exert their creativity by making their own masks, headpieces or wands. Then, arrange a costume contest for guests to debut their creations.
  6. Decorate Jovial Jack-o-Lanterns: Engaging in a new hobby can challenge the mind in exciting ways. Avoid the mess and potential dangers of carving by offering paints and markers for residents to use to design their ghoulish gourds.
  7. Host Tricks and Treats: Exercise promotes physical and mental health, improves mood and increases mental alertness. Get residents’ blood pumping by embarking on a Halloween promenade around the rec room or living facility.
  8. Cook Tasty Sweets: Familiar smells, sights and tastes can invoke feelings of comfort in seniors. Break out the cookie cutters to create spiders, witches, pumpkins and all things that go bump in the night. As an added benefit, choose cookie recipes that contain mental health-boosting foods, such as dark chocolate.

If you or anyone you know is exhibiting signs of depression, anxiety or behavioral side effects of Alzheimer’s or dementia, Oceans can help.

 

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