SPONSORED – With age comes vulnerability, older adults cope with a body that is less strong than it was at thirty, a mind that may be slower than it was at twenty. They need support and care to age with dignity.
Seniors with good cognitive ability are looking for different activities to keep their brain sharp, active and stimulated regularly. Family members of people living with dementia are looking for non-medical intervention to work alongside medications to support them. Aged care facilities are looking for effective and alternative therapy that will benefit the residents and improve efficiency and productivity of the lifestyle team. Cognitive stimulation therapy (CST) becomes an effective and fun brain fitness program to meet these needs.
Taking part in regular mental stimulation activities may contribute to building cognitive reserve to buffer against disease, support the brain to process information around the damaged parts of the brain, and recover from brain trauma. People with high cognitive reserve had a 46% reduced risk of developing dementia. It is never too young or too old to start building cognitive reserve. Don’t wait until it is too late.
While dementia changes relationships, it doesn’t end them. The person is still the same person before and after a dementia diagnosis. The person still appreciates human interaction, in fact more than ever to help them navigate the journey. They often have to deal with the overwhelming emotions to “grief” the diagnosis without recommendations of support options.
Fit Minds Australia is a leader in the field of CST and specialise in providing group and individual CST programs to enhance the quality of life, encourage human interactions, and enable meaningful relationships for older adults. By providing opportunities for meaningful social connections, it helps reduce the isolation and loneliness that can often accompany a dementia diagnosis and life in general.
Research shows that CST is effective in slowing the rate of cognitive decline associated with dementia. It also improves outcomes when used in conjunction with medications. Additional benefits observed include reducing apathy, increasing quality of life, reducing triggers for challenging behaviours and stress for caregivers.
Despite the proven benefits of CST, the reality is that aged care facilities and older adults are lacking the understanding of what CST is all about and therefore lack appreciation of the intangible (but extremely needed) benefits of the therapy.
The approach taken by Fit Minds Australia prioritises the person’s needs and interests, using personalised cognitive exercises that match their preferences and abilities to offer a pleasurable experience. This also provides a warm and nurturing environment that fosters meaningful social connections, a sense of purpose and accomplishment. Regular feedback is given on the progress and engagement, focusing on the person’s well-bring.
Fit Minds Australia has garnered favourable feedback from Australian aged care facilities, with residents and family expressing admiration for the program. The program has proven to be a time-saver for lifestyle coordinators, enabling them to complete more care plans in a single day which boosts productivity and efficiency.
Here are the stories of Mary and John on how CST has helped improve the quality of their lives.
Mary’s daughters sought out Fit Minds Australia when they noticed their mother was showing signs of dementia. The therapy boosted Mary’s confidence and self-esteem when she was able to solve the different stimulation worksheets customised to her abilities, with support and encouragement from the Fit Minds cognitive coach. Despite her lack of interest in mathematics, Mary surprised everyone by accomplishing simple additions and multiplications. Mary was able to remain in her own home for an extended duration before the need arises to transition her to a care facility.
Similarly, John lived with Frontotemporal Dementia, severe macular degeneration and hearing impairment. Fit Minds Australia catered the therapy worksheets to his strengths, making it fun and enjoyable for him. Despite his condition, John was able to remain in his own home until the day he passed at 97-years-old. The therapy sessions were the highlight of his week, and made a significant difference in his life.
Leaders of aged care facilities and retirement villages should promote and encourage more clients to participate in CST, given its proven effectiveness in improving quality of life for older adults accessing aged care.
With organisations such as Fit Minds Australia leading the way in providing CST sessions, more seniors can benefit from this unique and valuable approach to maintaining cognitive function, staying socially engaged and enjoying meaningful relationships.
Life can continue to be full of joy, meaning and purpose regardless of age and health condition.