What is your caregiving tied to? For many with aging parents and relatives in assisted living facilities, your caregiving involves transportation, helping with finances, shopping for necessities, and advocating for care with insurance and healthcare providers. The time for visiting and simply doing something fun can seem to slip through your fingers week by week.
Get motivated to make more of your time together and help your loved one stay active with these 10 creative ideas:
A novelty idea for “rainy day fun,” puzzles and games are brain-boosting fun for older adults who spend more time indoors as well. Track down an old card or board game your loved one used to enjoy and bring it on your next visit. Or download a puzzle, scrabble or sudoku app to your tablet device and show your loved one how to play simply by tapping and swiping the screen (great for older adults with dexterity issues).
Does your loved one have their own computer in their room or apartment? With a webcam and some speakers, they could be connecting with friends and family near and wide. Live video chatting services like Skype, Facetime and Google Hangout are fairly easy to operate with your assistance, and your weekly visit could involve video chatting with a grandchild who lives far away or an old friend your loved one hasn’t spoken with in some time.
Looking for fun indoor exercises to practice with your loved one? Try the deep breathing, flowing movements and meditation of gentle yoga. With loads of health benefits (from combatting memory loss and high blood pressure to helping with heart disease and osteoporosis), gentle yoga can be done standing or sitting in a chair. Find instructional videos on yoga for seniors on Youtube.
Go to a concert or show
Aging adults know that experiences are truly what make life rich. When possible, a great indoor activity you and your loved one will enjoy is attending a performance together – maybe it’s a play at the local community theatre, a concert by the city’s chamber orchestra, or even a seasonal performance at your church or temple. Keep your eyes peeled for event news on social media and in your local paper, and ask your loved one what they would enjoy seeing.
Give back to others
“Volunteering” from the comfort of assisted living? Really? If your aging parent or grandparent has a favorite hobby – you can absolutely turn it into a way to give back. Do they like to knit? Help them coordinate a knitting project for donating handmade hats to a local shelter or hospital. Do they love cooking? Help them whip up some cookies as a thank you for the assisted living staff.
If your loved one’s assisted living quarters includes a small kitchen, cooking makes for an extra fun (and healthy) activity to do together – even if it’s simply making sandwiches or heating soup up on the stove. Engaging in cooking together gets your loved one up and about and gives them a sense of purpose in getting to help with executing a task that benefits not only them, but you as well.
Look at old pictures
Especially beneficial for older adults with cognitive decline and memory loss, looking at old pictures can trigger long-term memory and help bring a smile to your loved one’s face. Old photo albums also give your aging parent a turn to tell you a story from their past or share an experience from when they were younger.
Bring the spa to them
Self-soothing techniques feel even better as you get older. Turn your visit into a spa day with a few simple items to pique the senses – a fragrant candle with a scent your loved one enjoys, lotion to rub on their hands or feet, soothing music for relaxing, and a sweet treat for them to snack on.
Indoor time could open a world of possibilities for your loved one when it comes to going digital – from connecting with friends and family on social media platforms like Facebook, to discovering new music to listen to with free streaming services like Spotify or Pandora. Your weekly visit can involve discovering something new online each week with your loved one, which may inspire them to do more outside of your time together.
Go for a walk
Walking the halls of assisted living is easier with a friend to hold on to. Not only do walks get your loved one out of their room, but it gives them a chance to interact with staff, volunteers and other residents. Fighting feelings of social isolation and loneliness are so important for older adults when getting out and about isn’t as easy as it once was. A weekly walk with you gives them a comforting activity to look forward to each week as well.
Contributed by Joe Fleming co-founder of Vive Health