Aging comes with a lot of consequences to the physical and mental health states of the body. As you grow older, your body ages as well, causing many of its physiologic functions to deteriorate. It also becomes more prone to several debilitating diseases that can affect the quality of life.
One such disorder is the notorious Alzheimer’s disease, which destroys the brain’s memory and thinking skills. It is an irreversible and progressive disorder that affects people in their mid-60s.
However, getting diagnosed with Alzheimer’s is not the end of the world. It is still wholly possible to always lead an active and happy life despite the disease.
One proven way to do that is to keep the brain active by stimulating it with activities such as exercise, reading, gardening, and knitting.
Moreover, studies have shown that images and visual representations help exercise seniors’ memory skills, strengthening their ability to remember.
With this, the idea of introducing photography to seniors with Alzheimer’s had been born. So, how does photography help battle Alzheimer’s?
Health Benefits of Photography
Photography is many things—an art, hobby, passion, creative outlet, and professional work. But who would have thought that it would also help capture the general well-being of seniors with Alzheimer’s?
Here are the different reasons why the creative use of photography can help seniors rise against brain disorder.
Mindfulness is more than just meditation; it is a body-mind intervention effective in preventing the progression of any cognitive impairment.
Mindfulness refers to the state of being present in the “now.” It is a training exercise for the mind to help it improve its psychological and mental health condition. It is used for people diagnosed with different mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, and dementia.
There are many forms of mindfulness activities, and photography is one of them. The act of taking photos and focusing on a particular moment is already a mindfulness exercise on its own.
Engaging in photography helps Alzheimer’s patients strengthen their ability to focus, drive their creativity, and prompt their appreciation for life. Not to mention the enjoyment that comes with capturing one-of-a-kind memories and keeping them forever.
Improves Social Interaction
Constant communication and social interaction are essential factors in preserving human life, especially for seniors in Alzheimer’s housing and assisted living.
Photography helps seniors stay social and improve their community interaction by:
- Having a new hobby that they can share with others
- Attending classes and programs about photography and meeting new friends
- Sharing captured photos in social media
- Bonding with loved ones over this new interest
According to studies, socialization is a vital ingredient in battling the effects of dementia. Carrying conversations, sharing your passion, and discussing photography with others is like a form of exercise for the brain. It also boosts self-esteem as well as one’s feeling of belongingness.
Increases Brain Activity
According to studies, Alzheimer’s injures and destroys the neurons in the brain, causing networks to break down and malfunction, thus causing significant loss of normal brain function and activity.
However, getting the brain all worked up and active helps other neurons maintain their health and normal function.
Engaging in photography keeps the brain active and enhances several cognitive functions such as memory. Photos and pictures also help stimulate memories through image association. You can help seniors make an album of the pictures they took so that they can get back to it whenever they want.
Looking at pictures helps them remember a specific memory or feelings attached to it. This gets their brain working and thinking, while also reminiscing the good moments.
Maintains Strong Mental Health
Alzheimer’s disease not only affects the physical anatomy of the brain, but it also targets a person’s mental health.
Social interaction has become a challenging endeavor for many seniors with Alzheimer’s. More often than not, they give up social contact and withdraw to their own head instead. This causes them to become isolated and have feelings of loneliness that may even develop into a depressive disorder.
Having photography as a hobby helps seniors focus on their social skills and creativity. More importantly, it has a bunch of therapeutic benefits, such as prompting you to express yourself more.
Photography is an excellent form of therapy for those having a hard time doing traditional therapeutic techniques.
A Change in Scenery
Photography is a diverse art form that can be done anywhere. As you long as you have your trusty camera, you can start taking shots wherever you are.
While taking photos inside the house or an assisted living facility is already enjoyable, you might find it extra exciting to see subjects that are outside your usual zone.
The outdoors also provide physical, social, and psychological benefits that will help Alzheimer’s patients in the long run.
Going outside and having a change in scenery is already a form of de-stressing. It lifts up your mood and elicits feelings of happiness and confidence.
In addition, it serves as a form of low-demand exercise that will get your body moving. Seniors can walk around the park or in the neighborhood and capture some real-life photos. They can soak up nature and embed its beauty into their minds by taking pictures.
Going outdoors is also a great way of meeting new people or catching up with old buddies.
Photography is just one of the many activities that can stimulate the mind of seniors with Alzheimer’s disease. Whether a senior is living with you or in a care facility, it is crucial to keep them going and active in all aspects of life.
The key is proper planning, understanding, and a whole lot of patience. As a loved one or a caregiver, it is your duty to help seniors cope with life and make it as healthy and enjoyable for them as possible.
Give them a purpose by introducing a new hobby, learning a new skill, or just plain socialization and quality time. These small acts—when done consistently and with love—will ultimately lead to a quality life that is worth living.