HOBBIES ARE GOOD FOR YOUR HEALTH

Do you have a hobby? Hobbies can give meaning and purpose to your life in retirement. As Robert Putnam points out in his book, Bowling Alone, it’s easy to discount the importance of hobbies and social engagements. Putnam details the widespread decline in civic engagement, from PTA memberships to neighborhood potlucks and bowling leagues. Over a couple of generations, Americans have misplaced the concept of free time.

SPECIAL PLANS FOR YOUR SPECIAL PEOPLE

Lily is a beautiful, active and full of personality toddler who happens to have Down syndrome. Lily’s parents and I have been friends for years and I have the continuing pleasure of watching Lily and her siblings grow up. While Lily is becoming a physical therapy rock star and hitting all her milestones in a timely fashion, her parents have started planning for the future.

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WHY WE ENJOY OUR HOBBIES

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a hobby as “a pursuit outside one’s regular occupation, engaged in especially for relaxation.” Hobbies include anything from playing a musical instrument to gardening, bird watching or sewing. A hobby is a way of focusing on something you enjoy just for the sake of that enjoyment. It may also be a way to clear your mental palette. You could be stressed out by a situation at work or the challenges of raising children and need an escape.

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become quite understandable when you know their origins. The focus is on maintaining dignity and replacing boredom and isolation.


The Best Friends Day Center is a dementia-specific adult day center with activities for participants, volunteer opportunities for community members and learning experiences for students in a variety of disciplines from colleges in the area. It is now affiliated with Christian Care Communities, Kentucky’s largest faith-based, non-profit provider of senior living communities and long-term care. The Center is located near Brannon Crossing on the border of Lexington and Nicholasville, Ky. It operates in collaboration with the Alzheimer’s Association and the University of Kentucky Sanders-Brown Center on Aging.


Learn more about the Best Friends approach at www.bestfriendsapproach.com.

Find out more about the Best Friends Adult Day Center at http://bestfriendsadultday.org or call (859) 258-2226.

Nearly 5 million Americans and about 69,000 people in Kentucky are currently living with Alzheimer’s disease, the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. Nearly one in three seniors who die each year have Alzheimer’s or another dementia. Current medications cannot cure Alzheimer’s. They only help lessen symptoms, such as memory loss and confusion, for a limited time.


We are learning what is good for the heart is good for the brain. Controlling weight, blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar helps reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke and dementia. A diet high in fruits and vegetables and low in fat and sodium also helps. Regular aerobic exercise (30 minutes three times or more per week), some strength and balance training and not smoking are important for heart and brain health, too. Higher education, cognitive stimulation and social interaction seem to be related to the prevention of dementia.


Health and other services are critical for assisting individuals with dementia to retain their independence by meeting their unique needs, but the everyday things in life matter if they are to keep their self-respect and quality of life. These include continuing the hobbies and activities of a lifetime; communicating with people who understand the basics of interacting with those who have dementia; and being loved, accepted and treated with dignity.

BEST FRIENDS: PROMOTING A MORE DEMENTIA-FRIENDLY COMMUNITY

Because there is no cure for Alzheimer’s or other dementias and few effective treatments, developing ways to help people live with dementia is essential. Best Friends, an approach to caring for people with dementia, has been building dementia-friendly communities since its founding in 1984 by Virginia Bell, who was a family counselor at the Sanders-Brown Center on Aging at the time. Dementia-friendly communities have the power to change the way people think about living with dementia. They make a fundamental shift from focusing only on meeting the physical and health needs of people with dementia to supporting them so they can achieve the best quality of life reasonably possible.


The Best Friends approach is nationally and internationally promoted. Its foundation is relationships – getting to know your friends and their life stories and using this knowledge to focus on their strengths and abilities. Best Friends staff, participants, families, volunteers and students learn how to communicate with people with dementia and help others in the community become knowledgeable and sensitive as well. Staff and volunteers listen, speak clearly with simple sentences, give compliments and ask opinions to help connect with people with dementia. Best Friends understand behaviors that seem strange or unreasonable

KATHY BLOMQUIST

Kathy Blomquist is a nurse who watched Best Friends develop when it was hosted by Second Presbyterian Church in Lexington. When she retired in 2011, it seemed natural to join the Best Friends volunteers, young and old, from all walks of life. Best Friends celebrates 500,000 volunteer hours this fall.


more articles by kathy blomquist