Get Active with Activities
Just because you are getting older and have moved into an assisted living home, does not mean you need to have less quality of life. There are many activities people in assisted living can participate in, that those in nursing homes might not be able to do anymore. Activities for the elderly are extremely important! Here are some reasons that you should participate in activities:
- Increases cognitive function. Which basically means that it keeps our minds sharp! Those with dementia or Alzheimer’s can really benefit from this.
- It improves our physical health. Studies show that the elderly who participate in more activities, are more likely to eat better and exercise more.
- Helps keep away depression. Those who are socially and physically engaged in activities are less likely to get the blues. Physical activities also decrease the risk of stroke, cancer, type 2 diabetes and dementia.
- It helps you make friends. Becoming a part of a new social circle can feel overwhelming. Participating in activities can help you connect with people that you probably never thought you would be able to connect with before. Having a sense of community is important.
Here are some ideas of different activities that you might find fun to participate in:
- Nature walks are a great way to get exercise and enjoy the fresh air. Enjoy the beautiful trees and flowers.
- Some assisted living communities have areas for a community garden. This is a great way to get outdoors, get your hands in the dirt, and feel like you have a purpose by nurturing something. And if you need help, you can always ask an employee to help you.
- Dancing is another great way that the elderly can be active. Not only does it get you moving physically, it helps you connect with others.
- Virtual bowling is now a thing... A lot of times you can do it on a Nintendo Wii. And since you are just holding a remote instead of an actual bowling ball, it’s good exercise for those who don’t have a lot of strength. Any activity to keep you moving is good. What do you like to do?
Social and Cognitive Activities
- How about joining a book club? This is a great way to help your mind stay active while reading; And make new friends along the way.
- Get involved in a bible study group, prayer group or ministry. You still have a lot to contribute to the world. One way you will be blessed is by blessing others.
- Why not take a class? I do not believe that the saying “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” is true for one minute. As long as you have a teachable heart, you can learn new things. Some awesome classes you could participate in are art classes, language classes, a class where you learn about different cultures from around the world, jewelry making class, basic computer and cell phone operation, etc. Many of these classes help you to maintain fine motor skills and allow your brain to be active.
- Participate in life story exercises. You can make this fun in many different ways. Sharing pictures, making scrapbooks together, or even doing some type of show and tell where you share an item from your past are great ways to tell people your life story. It is also a great way to practice your memory skills and help prevent memory loss.
It doesn’t matter what type of activities you choose to participate in. As long as it’s beneficial to your emotional, mental, spiritual, and physical health it is going to be good for you.
Preparing Your Home for An Elderly Relative
Are you considering having an elderly family member move in with you? This is often a transition step that people take to save money on nursing home or other expenses or in order to assist them emotionally in a transition such as the death of a spouse. But, how difficult is this change, and is it even advisable? Hopefully you'll find some help below.
The first thing that you need to consider is whether your relationship can withstand long periods of time together while being enjoyable for both of you. Be honest when you answer this question. If you've always struggled with resentment against a parent or relative or if they've struggled with the same thing from you, make sure that you do not enter into this arrangement without a GREAT deal of forethought. Financial or other kinds of stress can sometimes make us do things that we would normally not consider to be good choices. If your choice to have someone join you in your home is due to feeling so compulsion or obligation, resentment will only grow into bitterness & worse in the years to come. Neither of you will be healthy & your relationship could go from rocky to horrible very quickly.
Next, if you both feel that your relationship can withstand this arrangement, set up some ground rules. Talk about how you will handle any conflict that comes up. Consider having a protocol in place where either individual can feel free to say, “I feel like we need to talk, will it work for us to talk tonight after dinner,” or something similar. If there is a standard in place, neither of you will feel it necessary to yell to be heard & both will feel that they can talk in a healthy way.
Another ground rule to have in place is that you'll both have responsibilities. It's important that everyone in a household feel useful, from the smallest member to the oldest. Perhaps your older relative is not physically able to do much, but they can help in other ways. If there are youngsters (grandchildren/great-grandchildren) that come to visit, it could be their responsibility to sit with them for a time after dinner & read stories or teach them a card game. They could put photographs into books or boxes that need to be sorted. They could crochet or mend, look for grocery sales/coupons, or perform some small effort that would genuinely be valuable to the household, yet not be physically demanding. If they're unable to read because of poor eyesight, or write anymore, ask them to record a verbal family history so that you & the rest of the family will have it for the future. Your responsibilities should also be clearly in place. Talk about who will cook, clear, & wash dishes. Mundane things can often make or break relationship.
Discuss finances before any moving takes place. It will be on the minds of the both of you, so you might as well “air the laundry” in advance. Discuss who is responsible for what. If you are fine with them living in a guest home that you have free of charge, are you also fine with covering utilities. If you'll be eating every meal together, who will pay for the groceries? Discuss these things in detail & don't forget things like insurance costs and other things that are uncomfortable. Might as well get all the discomfort out of the way from the first so that you can all be comfortable afterward!
Schedules. Talk about this too! Schedules are nearly as important as finances when it comes to daily tasks. If you work full or part-time & they tend to have many appointments for medical needs, discuss an arrangement that might work for driving to & from, or find a local shuttle service that might be able to transport.
Consider their comfort. Our bodies change dramatically as we age, so if they'll be sharing the same quarters as the rest of the family, consider things that might help them to feel more at home in a foreign place. Room darkening curtains so that they can get the rest they need when they need it (this might include a nap...even if it makes you jealous!) Finding a way to make their area of the home the right temperature for them can be a big help to both of you. If you like it very warm or very cool in your home, make accommodations for them if they are opposite. Ask BEFORE they move in what they usually keep their thermostat at in the house so that you can prepare. Also, be sure that you have a heating pad & blankets close to their favorite chair. Find out what type of chair & bed they use for comfort. If their current ones are too difficult for them to maneuver on their own, consider getting a different one that will work better to keep them as self-sufficient as possible. Install a shower chair, shower head with a hose, gripping bars, etc. in the bathroom for ease of use. Consider the entrance to your home, stairways & other potentially hazardous spots. How will you make those things safe for the newest member of your family to stay with you?
Finally, talk with them about their will & if they have any living will, as well. If they'll be spending their waning years with you, you will need to know what types of life support they are okay with, should their medical needs come to that. After their death, you'll need to know whether they have funeral arrangements made somewhere & which parts are already taken care of. None of us likes to think about these things in advance, but having it squared away in advance gives us the time we need to go through the grieving process without additional anxiety about arrangements. It's also very comforting to know what your loved one wants when they are unable to speak for themselves.
This is obviously not a comprehensive list, as every situation will be different. Communication is key when it comes to every area of life, and this is no different. Make these years spent together be a gift for both parties to hold in their memories.
Adaptations For More Independent Living
I've often wondered how some older people go for so long while continuing to live on their own. Sometimes it is because they happen to have exceptionally amazing genes. These people seem not to age, have no problems with flexibility, aches & pains & seem to continue on in the same manner from age 50 to age 90 or more. More often, though, as people age & want to maintain their independence, it is because they've learned how to incorporate adaptations into their home, vehicles & lives. What are some of these adaptations?
Bathrooms: Bathrooms are the most common place for elderly falls to occur. In order to maintain independence in this area of the home, many people have special showers installed. These often involve bathtubs with doors on the side for easy access. If they have a stand-up shower, they often install a seat to sit on & a hose shower head to make the shower easier to use. Bars in and next to the shower & commode can also make a world of difference so that a person has a handhold for balance. If the bathroom cabinets are difficult to access, rolling shelves can also make it easier for the elderly so that they are not forced to try to get on hands & knees to find items in the bottom cupboards.
Kitchens: Toaster ovens become very popular in homes where there are only one or two people. It's far easier for someone to reach on a counter top than to bend into the oven. It's also, generally more practical since they're cooking for very few instead of for a large family. Upright freezers are easier to access than deep freezers. Pots & pans should be chosen with weight in mind. If they are heavy, they will not get used often because it hurts wrists & hands if they are too heavy. Lower cabinets should have sliding shelves, & possibly under the cabinet trash cans, as well.
Living Rooms: Recliners are commonly upgraded to chairs that will lift in order to help the occupant to stand a little easier. Area rugs should be firmly attached to the floor or removed altogether as you do not want them to be a tripping hazard. Magnifying glasses for reading with ease should be placed in area where reading may take place. Lamps with easy on/off switches are easy to find.
Bedrooms: Hospital style beds that are adjustable are important as people age & have a harder time sleeping lying down. Being able to lift the back or knee area of a bed can give options for more comfortable sleep. It can also help to prevent pneumonia. Lamps with easy switches are also a must, as well as easy to read alarm clocks. Dressers should have drawers that slide easily. Closets should have easy access to everything that they contain. If sight is an issue, consider color coordinating clothing into outfits & putting them on hangers, or coming up with a system so that they are easier to choose & so that they coordinate.
Entryways/Porches: If stairs are an issue, a ramp should be provided. Handrails are a must. If you live in a snowy/icy climate, sand or salt is also a must for entrances. Yak tracks should be provided to cover boots to help with grip on slippery surfaces.
Trips to Town: Using a cane or walker is an easy way to improve balance without a huge expense. Walkers should be equipped with canvas bags on the sides to hold necessary items without the need for a person to carry bulky bags. Walkers should also be equipped with seats to make it easier to rest when necessary. If the stores that you'll be visiting are quite large, consider getting a scooter, if available. Do not be embarrassed to use any benches that are provided while you're out and about. Many things become dangerous if we are tired from pushing ourselves too hard without cause.
There are several things that can be done to make life easier as we age. These things may seem unnecessary at first, but if you think of it in terms of maintaining independence, they become more appealing. Why not try to maintain freedom for as long as possible? Go out and live life to it's fullest no matter your age or abilities! Make memories with those you love!