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Having magazines available in a waiting room are nice. But how often have you been in a waiting room and the reading material is several years old, or the subject matter is about cars and trucks (and you hate cars and trucks)? There are ways to keep your clients occupied and offer them some mental stimulation. Instead of just magazines, try giving them the option of games. Studies have shown that playing word games and other brain-stimulating activities just once a week reduces the onset of dementia by more than 60 percent.
What Can You Offer?
All it takes to stimulate the mind is about 15 minutes worth of challenge per day. It engages the mind in something new and offers an opportunity to learn, to solve or to create. This helps to prevent neuronal pathways from deteriorating as well as build new ones.
Going to your local bookstore, or simply downloading puzzles and games from free websites are easy ways to obtain these simple activities. Some of the best ones include:
- Crossword puzzles
- Sudoku or Kenken
- Foreign language flash cards
- Trivia questions
- Labyrinths or mazes
Get ones that are at an easy level, something that most people can complete in 15 minutes or less. Puzzles that are too hard only cause frustration and make people feel less smart than they really are. You may also want to consider creating a one or two-page handout for clients containing facts about maintaining good mental health and perhaps a list of websites that offer free games you can print out or play online.
In addition to games and puzzles, if you have a large enough facility, you may be able to offer some sort of weekly gathering for both clients and others within your community. Social activity and interaction with others is another great way to improve cognition, as well as delay the onset of dementia in some individuals. This is not only good for your clients, but for you as well!
Some activities to consider are:
- Book Club – This encourages reading, comprehension and discussion of new or classic books. The group as a whole can select a book that is of interest to everyone.
- Writing Group – Writing is scary for some people, but providing time and space for journal writing or simply writing about one’s past or future dreams can be stimulating. Reading them aloud to one another can be inspiring and encourage conversation.
- Game Night – Once a week, or even just once a month, get together for fun and games that encourage activity, both mental and physical. Bingo is one that most people are familiar with. Charades, simple board games or even putting together gift baskets to donate to community events are all ways of getting people together and motivating them to think and move.
- Exercise Night – Tai Chi, qigong, yoga – even belly dancing or square dancing can stimulate the mind as well as the body. Learning new moves, new steps and keeping the body active have been shown to improve overall cognition.
- Classes – As a massage therapist you have a lot of knowledge to offer about health and well-being. Consider offering a class on the benefits of massage. You may also be trained in other subjects or know of others who are willing to share knowledge. Think beyond massage as well. Perhaps a talk on saving energy, greening the home or local wildlife might be of interest. You may even know of an artist or crafts person who can teach or facilitate a class on a regular basis.
If you don’t have the space in your own office, consider teaming up with another bodyworker or local business that does. This can help promote both businesses by not only providing a service for long-time clients, but also bringing in new clients.
Human beings consist of more than just a physical body. Keeping fit is more than just maintenance of flesh and bones. It is also about the mind and the soul. By offering your clients an opportunity to continue learning and provide them with activities, you are helping them to remain attentive to their surroundings and stay open to new ideas.
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