Home Away From Home

Assisted Living Facilities may become an alternative as we age.  It isn’t easy to find a place suitable for the needs of your family or loved one when they become unable to totally care for themselves. These facilities offer many advantages for a person who feels depressed or needs help with daily activities.  Several different types of homes exist, but you would want to check out the needs of the patient and the advantages of each facility before signing a contract for your loved ones.  Not all are alike, so let’s examine how to find the right one.  It depends on how healthy or active the person is.  Are they active and over 55?  It’s important to consider if you have dementia/Alzheimer’s or any other condition that might require special attention. Or, you may just be looking for an amazing place to live?

There are several different facilities, according to the needs of the resident, which offer activities to suit their needs.  Activities consist of daily exercises, shopping trips, music performance, cooking demos, manicures, bowling, volley ball and golf.  Activities and special events are normally planned on a week to week basis.   There are movie nights and trips to the store.  Their vehicles are equipped for wheel chair patients and supervised by attendants who assist with physically challenged residents.

If you are able to cook and do things for yourself, you may want an Active 55 or independent living facility.   Some places offer 1 and 2 bedroom suites.   These come with many amenities, and are often fully equipped with washer and dryer, granite countertops, central air, walk-in closets, and covered parking.   Residents can enjoy an amenity package that includes a barbeque area, beautiful courtyard and fountain, fire place, resident lounge. Some have a café, full service hair and nail salon, library and genealogy center, game room, fitness center and more.

There are other community resources and people who volunteer to consult  residents about elderly challenges and issues such as Medicare, Social Security, Wills and Insurance.  Some volunteer organizations ask permission for their members to visit with residents and read to them or write letters for them.  .

 

MEMORY UNITS – These units have Caregivers to be with the residents and watch over them.  These facilities offer many advantages for a person who needs help with daily activities.  Special meals are prepared and brought into the Unit.   Aids (CNAs) are with the residents at all times and assist with bathing, comforting, and checking on them often to see that their daily needs are met.  They even play games and help with small tasks for the mentally impaired.  The nurses check vital signs and administer medication, and there is usually a doctor who comes in when needed.

18 Activities for Senior Citizens Pt. 2

  If you have somehow found this article without reading Part 1, you may want to go back and read through the introduction.  You'll find helpful information there to spur your own creative thoughts on this subject and give you the “why” behind the projects that I've highlighted here.  I hope you find at least a couple of useful activities in this 2 part list as you seek to encourage those you care for and give them new goals to reach and life to live!

10. Another option is to consider clay as a very forgiving activity.  Having a sculptor come to give lessons is not out of the question, or perhaps consider a video tutorial.  Clay can be squished and re-made countless times as a person seeks the form they would like.  If they are so inclined, they could practice on malleable clay & then purchase another type of clay for baking into a final project that they might find useful.  There are even colorful clay-like materials that can be baked and made into erasers! 

11.  Food sculpture is a great way of increasing fruit and vegetable intake as well as engaging the whole person. Learning how to carve radishes and cucumbers and eating their mistakes will be enjoyable and funny.  Their final product could be presented at a group meal for all to enjoy.

12.  Lighting or clockwork might be of interest to some senior citizens who are even mildly mechanically inclined.  This could also serve a practical purpose if they need a bit of extra light in a corner of their room to make a cozy reading or listening area.  Materials to make lamps are incredibly variable, but all lamps have very basic “guts” inside.  Clockworks, likewise have very basic parts and their faces can be as varied as the people making them!

13.  A very practical class on making your own hygiene products might be interesting to certain individuals.  Making toothpaste pellets or tooth powder, lotions that are effective for aging skin, nourishing, non-drying deodorants with beneficial essential oils, salves, & etc. encourages the use of all of the senses, except perhaps taste! 

14.  Learning slight of hand or card tricks to share with young visitors might encourage someone to reach out in a new way to forge a friendship.  It also engages the mind as you try to master some of these things while watching yourself in the mirror!

15.  Balloon twisting, likewise has great potential for helping them connect with a young generation and perhaps even teach them how to twist balloons.  It is incredibly easy on arthritic hands and great fun for all involved.

16.  Leather work of heavier or thinner leather employs many faculties, as well as being a useful and creative outlet.  Consider belts, wallets, camera/phone pouches or even smaller projects like photo frames and bracelets.

17.  Book binding is incredibly fun for all ages.  Learning the basics of book stitching will then enable people to bind together several things that are meaningful to them, whether they be postcards from their travels, notes taken over a course of years but placed into different notebooks that they want to bind together as one, or even to make their own bound book of scratch paper or recipes.

18.  Finally, soft metal work or punching.  Many people enjoy this old time skill.  Punching a bit of tin or other thin sheet metal to let light through a lantern or let air into a cabinet may still have useful applications, though it will mostly be for decorative use these days.  Create a candle sconce that has punched tin, or perhaps even a framed piece. Perhaps create several panels for a box or cabinet or as the backing on a bookshelf.  The cabinetwork itself may be beyond the scope of ability for the person in your care, but the tin punching may not be.

  Be sure as you mull over all of these ideas to keep the person/persons you are working with in mind.  If they aren't able to do the full project, can they do parts of it?  Do they have certain aversions or disabilities that will make it impossible to accomplish the task with joy?  The intent is not to frustrate, but to give them new things to think about, new ideas to try & a feeling of pride in their newfound skill and craftsmanship.  After all, how many times when we are young do we say, “I'd love to do that when I have more time...”?  It is a difficulty in life that when we have all kinds of strength and ability we have very little time.  When we have more time, our strengths and abilities decrease.  I'm sure that this behooves us to develop patience with ourselves, but it can be frustrating.  If someone you are working with is getting frustrated by their lack of strength or dexterity, gently encourage them that the project need not be finished quickly, but well & that they can do it in increments that are fitting for their current ability.  In all things, enjoy yourselves!

18 Activity Ideas For Senior Citizens Pt.1

  All of us need activity.  From the smallest child to the oldest adult, our bodies urge us to move after a time.  As we age our joints become stiff and painful if we are stationary for too long, in front of a television, for instance.  It is good to change positions and do something else for a time.  Planning activities into our day can help alleviate some of our muscle and joint pain and rigidity.  But it has far more benefits than this.  It can also give our minds something to look forward to. Anticipating what we'll spend our time on during this particular day that has been given to us is just as important as the activity itself because it engages our mental faculties in new ways of problem solving, as well as future planning.  It also gives us the chance to create and possibly express to others our love through the gifts that we make. The idea that it's important for our bodies to have something to do, our minds to have something to think about and our hearts to have something or someone to love in order to nourish the entire person throughout the day was proposed by an educator in the 1800's named Charlotte Mason.  She was correct, of course. If we set up our days in this way with: 1. Something to do 2. Something to think about 3. Something or Someone to love, we'll find that we're never bored and always moving forward. 

  Activities, especially in a long term care facility can be challenging to come up with.  Many of the suggestions online are for crafty projects that are not terribly useful or beautiful to look at.  Yet, most people of older generations lived their lives with a great appreciation for the useful.  Any kind of activity that we propose, then, should have some thought for its usefulness in mind.  It will be regarded with more interest and valued more if it is proposed in this way.  This is not to say that sometimes silliness is necessary to lighten the mood, but oftentimes silliness is something that happens spontaneously and cannot be planned, which is a large part of the fun!  Also note that the people in our care are much older than we are and can easily recognize when they are being given, “busy work”.  No one wants their time to just be idled away without value.  If we're going to make a craft, then, let it be beautiful, useful or helpful to someone.  If we are going to do a game, let it be well planned.  If we are going on an outing, let it be interesting.  Employ the mental faculties at the same time as the physical ones in order to have a much more rewarding activity.  Also strive to employ different senses as you plan activities.  The sense of smell, touch, taste, hearing & seeing are all at our disposal to engage those we care for in a more meaningful way.

  With these things in mind, here are a few unique activities that you may not have thought of to do with patients, clients or your elderly loved one. 

  1. Make potting soil mixes.  Many people pot pretty plants with senior citizens.  Buying all of that potting mix can get expensive.  It is much more economical to make your own potting soil mixture. Especially in a long term care facility, the ability to make potting soil is valuable.  It employs several senses and engages gross motor, as well as fine motor skills.  It also employs a good deal of mental acuity without being too fussy as ratios are used between different ingredients, but it is a forgiving media!
  2. Grow herbs for tea or for cooking.  Even in an indoor space with less than stellar lighting, herbs can be grown.  Planting seeds, checking for lighting conditions and setting up a lighting system where necessary, and caring for the seedlings takes a good bit of time & mental activity. Solving problems and watching newness each day gives hope.
  3. Make herb mixes or tea sachets.  Whether using the herbs that they've grown or store-bought ones, making herb mixes or tea bags to give as gifts can be a great activity.  It will engage the sense of smell, taste and use fine motor skills.  Figuring out loved ones that might appreciate these things as gifts is another great way to open their heart to the outside world.
  4. Working with wood.  I do not mean that you should get out the table saw for your activity time in the senior center, but think about crafts that can be made using wood as a texture. Wood is a quality material to work with, and also has the benefit of smelling amazing!  Final sanding can be done by most elderly.  Painting can also be done.  If you find a project that has selling potential, consider whether they might like to be involved in producing it for a fundraiser for something in the community.  Let them know that their impact on the world is not diminished just because their bodies are aging. 
  5. If you must use paper for crafts, consider an older craft like Paper Sloyd to make useful items out of paper.  Choose heavier paper that can still be folded and cut easily.  Making key tags or labels, small baskets to hold their items or even a frame for a favorite print might be an enjoyable pastime for some.
  6. Glass beads for garlands or sun catchers are always a good idea.  Light is so important & being able to watch it pass through colored glass and dance around the room is cheering to most people.  Making a garland or sun catcher using several materials can make it more visually attractive.  Consider including driftwood to add a natural element. 
  7. Pebble art has become popular in recent years.  Taking pebbles or small smooth stones to make figures of people or animals can be very entertaining.  Making them into scenes engages the imagination and sometimes the memory.  Treat the final projects with respect by being sure they are matted and framed.  Consider having a favorite quote or verse added to the masterpiece to make it a keepsake.
  8. If writing has become laborious, and they are no longer able to write out recipes, have them consider making customized watercolor paper recipe cards.  Their loved ones can then print or write favorite family recipes onto the cards and still have a reminder of them whenever they use it.
  9. If crocheting and knitting is too painful on arthritic hands, but a person really enjoys working with yarn and similar textiles, consider whether weaving may be an option.  Woven tops for throw pillows & even woven rugs are trending and in high demand.  They would be appreciated as gifts.  

There are plenty of amazing projects out there and the variations are only limited by our own creativity!   Find more ideas for useful projects next week on the blog!

Local Events to Get You Out & About

The long, dog days of summer are upon us.  The intense heat can make it difficult to get outside and be involved in things going on, even though the options are generally more plentiful at this time of year.  But, please remember, no matter what your age, it is important to be involved in the things going on in your community.  Seeing aging citizens active and involved gives a sense of stability to the younger population.  Being involved with them gives them hope for the future, and you just may find that it gives a bit of joy back to you as well!

Activities are varied throughout the country, but most communities have certain events that are annually put on within their community that you can attend, or even help to put on!  I’ll start with some that are available throughout the country & then give you some ideas to find more near you.

  1. Farmer’s markets. Almost every small town in America has markets where local farmers and gardeners go to sell their produce.  These vendors love to talk with people.  Becoming friends with them is easy and it if you’re eating their produce, you’ll become healthier at the same time! Plan a morning to go and walk or wheel around your local market, even if you’ve never been there before.  Pick up some food or a bouquet of cut flowers to put on your table!

  1. Community gardens. Many of the larger towns in the United States also have community gardens with plots available.  Rent a plot that you can cultivate.  It is better if you can rent it with someone else that can help you in the garden in order to spend some quality time with them in nature.  Chances are good that you’ll run into people while you’re working in your plot and make new acquaintances while you’re growing your meal!
  2. Reading programs. Public libraries all across the country offer reading programs that are not just for children.  Our library offers a summer reading program for children and a winter reading program for adults.  The program includes specific types of books to read, but also specific activities to attend.  Oftentimes these programs are linked with a class that they’re offering or a local author coming to speak.  Being involved in these programs will help you to interact in your community, but they may also turn you on to a new genre of book that you’ve never read before, or a new hobby that you’ve never tried.  We recently had a wire-working class offered in our library and the end products look amazing!
  3. County fairs. Throughout the country, county fairs take place.  They are great ways to get out and find many new people and interests.  Plan to walk around, but to take breaks at benches and picnic tables to rest.  Eat some of the amazing food in the food trucks.  Visit the various buildings.  If they offer a list for open entries, take the list and look over it closely.  Perhaps there are things listed that you could enter next year to win ribbons and money.
  4. Community education classes. Oftentimes communities will put out little booklets of classes that are offered throughout the year in their area.  Some classes require payment for materials and some are free.  All of them offer you a chance for interaction and to learn something new!
  5. Swimming or other exercise classes may be available in some areas at the local pool or fitness center. They often have fitness classes that are geared specifically for senior citizens.
  6. Art guilds will sometimes offer classes to beginners to get them interested in that particular type of handicraft.
  7. Church functions. These are an ongoing thing in most churches and there are almost always groups of older people within the congregation that will organize some of their own activities or even outings.
  8. Community theater. If you’re too shy to go onstage and audition, attending their performances will be a big boon to you and to the actor and actresses!
  9. Parades, block parties & special days. Many areas have different things that they celebrate within their community.  If yours has these things, find ways that you can get involved. Tell your son that you want to take you antique car through at the next parade.  Offer to sit at a table for promoting a certain business or cause that has one set up. You’ll meet many people in this way.

The things to do are almost endless, especially in summer.  Winter-time events are a little sparser, but might also include holiday parties, fundraising events, indoor fairs, etc.  Keep your eyes open all year long for things in which you could be involved.  Think about how you could contribute your time to help.

How to Make Your Senior Citizen Center Come Alive!

Senior centers are common entities all throughout the United States. They have been in place for decades & act as a great place for senior citizens to bridge the gap between retirement and old age. Studies have shown that people who are regular patrons of the senior centers in their area are healthier physically, mentally, emotionally & financially.  Most senior centers are funded locally, by people in the community, but some also get state and federal funding or grant monies in order to keep them viable.

The atmosphere of senior care centers is as widely diverse as the people that attend them.  Some are full of life already, and have loads of activities all throughout the day, as well as great-tasting, healthful food and informative talks.  Others are just barely holding on by a thread and only offer the bare bones necessities when it comes to food and entertainment.  Find out what the senior citizen center in your area is like, and then commit to making a difference where you are.

The ratio of men to women at senior citizen centers is widely in favor of women, but in speaking with an elderly woman that attends her senior center regularly, she indicated that men are not altogether out of the loop. “Those older gentlemen really do appreciate getting their meals cooked for them…well, we ladies like getting ours cooked for us too, for that matter!” And meals are a huge part of what senior citizen centers do.  They prepare meals daily for the elderly in their area.  The seniors sign up for the meals that they’ll buy, and the cooks make sure there is a meal waiting for them.

But while eating is a large part of what goes on at senior citizen centers across the nation, it is not the only thing that happens there.   You might say that the food gives people an excuse to get together, but it is a small part of what keeps them coming back every week.  If people were only looking to be fed, they could order appetizers from a restaurant and do just as well.  Senior citizen centers, however, offer much more than food.  They offer community.  And community is hard to find these days.  While you’re visiting your local senior community center, if you find that there are not as many activities or classes as you’d like, offer some ideas to the activity’s director.  It might be that he/she is wearing many hats and trying to get funding for the endeavor is crowding out time to organize events.  Be open, be vibrant & be a part of the change.

Activities that are common in senior citizen centers are quilting, cards & talks. Sometimes, however, finding things that are newer and exciting can be quite challenging!  Offer to ask your great niece or nephew if they’d come to share their musical talent.  See about your old neighbor and find out if their son is still doing physical therapy.  Maybe he could come and do a talk about posture & therapies that could help with common elderly complaints.  If you know someone in dance school, ask if they’d perform for your group.  Start a painting class if you’re an artist.

One place that I’ve been has weekly story-telling session.  A person can prepare a story of their own to share, or they can bring a story that they’ve recently read that they think others will enjoy.  This might require a bit of effort on the part of the storyteller to come prepared to speak in front of others, but it is not costly, nor does it require a lot of coordination.

Other creative ideas include sculpture classes, free form with clay.  Sculpting ornaments from clay or applesauce/cinnamon around Christmastime.  You could also do fruit sculptures in order to make centerpieces for another event the same day.  Think about the things you’ve done in the past using different mediums.  In the spring, you could sculpt garden sculptures to place in outdoor areas around the senior center or at people’s apartment buildings.

If it’s painting, consider classes that will award the winners with a spot on your gallery wall at the center.  Or think about things that could be painted for utilitarian purposes.  Do the walls need to be painted?  Or cabinet doors?  Are there fixtures that need a face-lift?  Let people know that a certain day will be a face-lift day for the building and create a sense of ownership and community by letting them be involved.  Even if they can’t physically help, they can serve coffee or lemonade to those who are helping.

Play cards, but also have a magician come in and teach some slight of hand tricks that the patrons can use to amaze their great-grandchildren or other neighborhood children to help bridge the gap between the generations.  Or invite the neighborhood children to attend the event, as well.  The patrons and the neighborhood children will have an equally enjoyable time trying out their new skills on one another!

If you are running out of ideas, think of one thing, “crochet” for instance, then think of many ways to apply it.  A crocheting class is great, but what if it involved a different medium than yarn?  What if you found a way to use plastic bags for a better purpose than filling the landfills and instead crocheted them into something else useful?  When you start looking at things in an open-ended way, you’ll find that you come up with far more ideas than you’ll have time to implement.

Involving nature studies of some kind is another important thing that gets overlooked.  Oftentimes, because these events are held within doors and in towns or cities, seniors can become cut off from nature.  Even holding classes and bringing in specimens to discuss can help bolster discussion and discovery.

So, attend, volunteer, help come up with ideas and resources that will make your senior center an active, vibrant part of your community!

Consideration

Do you know how to remain considerate when all those around you seem to be losing their minds?   No?  Me either!  It is incredibly difficult to rise above the pettiness that I’ve been experiencing lately while going about my business in the world around me.  But, this is where the older generation has much to offer.  They have the wisdom of the years in them coupled with the wisdom of many years before that that was handed down to them through stories and lessons.  So, here is a very incomplete list of areas where I’ve learned consideration for others from those a generation (or three) ahead of my own.

 

 

Speak clearly, politely & respectfully.  When others are speaking angrily, it can be very difficult to control the rising anger in ourselves.  If we give in to that anger, however, the situation usually escalates.  Be clear about your position, do not be bullied, but be polite in the process. Generations preceding our own knew how to argue in a more respectful way than ours, even if it came to major issues.  After the Revolution, for instance, there were a series of discussions in the papers which ended up being called “The Federalist Papers” and “The Anti-Federalist Papers” which discussed the pros and cons of a central Federal government.  They argued their points concisely, thoroughly, and with passion, but they did not stoop to the level of denigrating the intelligence or character of their opponent.  There is much to be learned from this in our day of social media.  The issues we face are every bit as flammable, but if we do not walk with consideration for our fellow man, we will all go up in smoke.

Stand up.  If someone is older than me, sick, weak or tired & there is only one seat available, I’ve been taught to stand and offer my seat.  This is not about my right to sit because I arrived first, it is about what is right.  Consideration for another is basic decency.

Be timely.  Sometimes it’s not possible.  In some cultures being on time means being 10 minutes late.  Whatever the standard is for the area you live in, do your best to live by it.  If you cannot, then call to communicate, but do not expect others to wait for you.  Consider that another’s time is more important than your own and try to plan for it.

Look for areas in all parts of your life in which you can show consideration to those around you.  Open doors for someone else (this does not have to be a male only activity).  Let someone with tired children cut in front of you in the grocery line, even if they have more items than you do.  Give people a wave if they accidently cut you off instead of honking angrily.  Help someone else carry things that appear to be a struggle for them.

There are countless ways that we can all be more considerate of those around us.  The generation that suffered through WW2 has much to teach us on this subject.  Perhaps because they saw how humanity can quickly become de-humanized, they decided that they could do better, one person at a time.  Being considerate is not just being polite.  It means to consider [to think about, ponder] another person.  Take a look at those you come into contact with.  Are they struggling to make ends meet?  Share with them something from your garden.  Are their kids watching far too much television for their age, but the mom is so tired she can’t find her way out?  Purchase a game or activity that the children are able to play on their own so she can have a reprieve without the television.  Or if you cannot do that, simply not judging her is a good step in being considerate.  Is there an elderly person near you who loves children but has no grandchildren of their own?  Bring yours to visit regularly & offer to help out with anything they need.  Does someone not have a car?  Offer a ride to town occasionally.  This list could be endless.

In being considerate, it is not necessary to become a doormat.  If you are unable to do something for someone, do not feel guilty.  But, if you are able to do something, go ahead and do it.  It might be small to you, but it will mean the world to them!

Handicrafts For Generations

In bygone eras, people were known by the types of employment they had and also which types of things they were skilled at making.  If a person was a particularly accomplished spinner or weaver, for instance, people sought them out to have them make their thread or cloth.  If someone was excellent at woodworking, they’d be hired for that purpose or their expertise would be sought for the purposes of an apprenticeship.  In our current society, many people have interactions with devices & technology, but interactions with actual items that require a great deal of skill and training is beginning to fade.  Most children today can operate a device that holds playlists for listening to music, for instance, while making music on an actual instrument takes a great deal more skill, attention & training.  If you’d like to read more on this subject, the book “Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry into The Value of Work” by Matthey B. Crawford is an excellent read.

For millinea however traditional handcrafts have been a way of life.  Up until the last 40-50 years, in fact.  These skills have been a source of warmth (sewing, knitting, crocheting, quilting), a source of shelter/refuge (woodworking, log building, cabinetry), a source of beauty (tatting, rosemauling, painting), a source of function (pottery, ceramics, chair caning), etc. Many of these skills have been replaced during the Industrial Revolution by machines, but at great cost to us as a culture.  Not only are we losing the ability to be able to make things by hand, we lose the benefits that go along with these crafts.  Knowing how to knit provides a utilitarian purpose of forming something warm out of one long length of yarn, but it provides much more than that.  Recent studies show that the impact of using both hands in knitting forces the brain to cross the midline & helps children & adults to be able to think more fluidly in both hemispheres.  It is also a calming activity which can help with anxiety.  It is also something useful to do when you no longer have the energy for strenuous physical activity.  These skills were taught from an early age, young children of 4-6 were often quite adept at knitting in Scandinavian countries.  The interactions between older generations & younger generations was a normalcy rather than an anomaly.  Many handicrafts have various benefits like these that are being largely overlooked in the frenzied age in which we live.

The Cambridge dictionary defines handicrafts this way: “handicraft noun [ C usually plural] uk ​ /ˈhæn.dɪ.krɑːft/ us ​ /ˈhæn.di.kræft/ a skilled activity in which something is made in a traditional way with the hands rather than being produced by machines in a factory, or an object made by such an activity. Crafts.”

It need not be terribly complicated.  You are not required to be a master at whichever skill you hope to pass on to a younger generation. Even if you learned a skill in the “wrong” way, you can pass on your knowledge of that.  Elizabeth Cotton, a famous folk musician, learned to play guitar upside down.  Years later, Jimi Hendrix would also be known for this particular style of playing guitar, now know as “playing Cotton”.  No excuses!

If you know how to do basic woodcarving, show someone else the skill, whether they are younger or older.  Teach them how to hold the tools that you use, which types of wood work best & some useful thing they can create with the skill. If you know how to crochet, but only know 6 or 7 stitches, teach someone else the basics of crocheting & to be familiar with the fibers they’re working with.  Once people have overcome the obstacle of learning basic skills, you’d be amazed at the hunger for more.  If you cannot provide the answers to their questions, it is okay.  They will seek out others who have different skills in the same area & further their education.  If they cannot find someone with the skills they would like to cultivate, they’ll research in books & on the internet for those skills.  Do not let imperfection keep you from the benefits of passing on or learning a new skill.

These interactions between the generations provide useful skills, but they also provide mental health benefits for the elderly & young generations alike.  For the elderly, it takes away some of the loneliness in later years & gives them a sense of purpose & that the world is going to be okay even after they’re gone.  For the younger generation, it gives them a sense of calm & rootedness to know where they’ve come from and that they will survive.

Finally, if you have no skills such as I’ve mentioned above & know no one with these skills (which is highly unlikely, but possible), you can always search online to learn the skills.  If you do this, be sure to share them with others directly, however.  A large part of the benefit is in teaching one another in person, in having direct communication, immediate answers to your questions, and accountability to finish the project you’ve started on.

Handicrafts are of great benefit to all involved.  If you are looking for someone with a particular skill, a great place to search is at your local county fair. Oftentimes artists & craftspeople will display their work for others to enjoy at the fair.  Also search for groups or guilds in your area online, then call to inquire about someone who can teach a beginner.  Yarn shops often have classes on knitting & crocheting.  Fabric stores often have quilting classes.  You’ll be surprised at how much is available once you start asking around.  People want to share these things!

Happy crafting!

The Importance of Community to the Elderly

All human beings have innate needs.  Most people think immediately of air, water, food & shelter as being the most important & they would be justified in thinking this.  But, according to numerous accounts throughout history, there are other things that are needed in order for humans to survive in this world.  Human touch and interaction are just as important as the other elements that we think of immediately.

There were numerous studies done in orphanages that researched the psychological effects of touch and interaction on those who've been abandoned, & conversely, what can happen if those needs  are not met.  The same can hold true for those who are on the opposite end of the spectrum of life.  Human care, social interaction & basic community can have amazing & life giving help for those who are walking the path into old age.  Here are some of the benefits.

Social benefits.  If it is necessary for a person to engage in social conversation with others at various times during the day, it keeps one's mind engaged and sharp in order to be able to ask questions and answer them.  It helps them to stay engaged in what is going on in the world around them, as well as to pass on their wisdom & life experience to those with whom they come into contact.

Mental benefits.  Interaction with others requires focus and concentration.  It often brings up points of discussion which may be of interest to us or that might lead us to seek more information on various topics.  The ability to do that, and then find answers that we are looking for through research keeps our mental wits about us & can give us further wisdom to offer people.

Physical benefits.  While it does not seem particularly easy to see physical benefits from social interaction, just think about when people come to visit your home.  It forces one out of the status quo.  You must play host or hostess by offering something to eat or drink, show people around the yard or garden, fetch a photograph of someone about whom you're talking or various other small duties throughout their visit.  If a person were to simply be engaged in a television program during that time, the effort for even these small things might be regarded as “too much” and that person could easily pass 3 hours time without any physical effort at all.  Another physical benefit is that they have people checking in on them on a regular basis & would have help to decipher whether or not it might be time to take a trip to a doctor if a fall or an illness do occur.

Emotional benefits.  This benefit seems much more obvious to those looking.  Emotionally healthy people are generally those who interact with others, show an interest in their lives & find value in their own.  They are easily able to see that things can be difficult for others & develop sympathy for them.  They can see that there are many positive things in their own lives & that they have much to offer to others.  They can love and feel loved by others.

So how do we go about offering the gift of community to the elderly we come into contact with?  First, engage them in conversation!  Show that you are interested in their lives & eventually you'll be rewarded in finding some of the amazing adventures that they've lived through.

Second, visit them regularly.  Do not make the mistake of thinking that your visit is not important.  It may be the only one that they look forward to.

Third, keep them engaged in the world around them.  If they seem to be roused by interest in politics, gardening, food or talk of the town, keep them talking about those things & bring articles that may interest them to read or watch while you are gone so that you can discuss them further in the future.

Finally, give them a hug or shake their hand to let them know that you care & are thinking of them.  All of us need one another in this world.

 

Understanding For The Next Generation

  Am I the only one who feels like times have gotten too easy for the younger generation?  Times have changed, I know.  I'm very aware of the things that have occurred in the past years.  It seems as though new technology & new inventions have made us less inclined to be able to deal with the harsh realities of life.  These days, even if you live far away from civilization, you have the ability to have heat at the push of a button, start your car from inside our your house in order to let it warm up in the winter, communicate immediately with almost anyone that you desire to & get any kind of food in any season of the year.  The amount of progress that society has made in these ways & in the medical field during the last 70 years are astounding.  If you can get the right diagnosis & get to the right kind of help on time, they can usually help you out in dramatic ways that would have been thought nearly miraculous in earlier days.

Because of all of these new developments, I can sometimes feel as though the younger generation doesn't appreciate how easy these things are, or that they are somehow softer than previous generations.  It feels as though they might not understand all of the sacrifices we had to make in order to survive.  But, really, is it too easy for them?  When I look at the other side of the coin, I realize that they may not have to plant a huge garden in order to survive, or chop wood in order to stay warm, but they have many more things to worry about than we did.

They have to worry about all of the things going on on a global scale.  This is a fairly new phenomenon.  They have access to news from all over the world at any time of the day or night.  Maybe that's progress, but oftentimes, it is an extra heavy burden for them to bear.

They have to work on technology.  A wireless & paperless society surely seems to need much more paper & requires more wires than we were promised.  It also requires constant maintenance & updating & new learning for each new device that comes out.  I don't know about you, but that seems far more exhausting to me than hauling a load of wood.

They often don't have the option of taking a break.  Being accessible at all times goes with the territory in a number of careers these days, especially in business.

Things may be easier for the younger generation in some ways.  They are far more difficult in other ways.  We'll find that we both need one another in the coming days.  We need to learn from them in order to function in the world that is emerging.  They'll need to learn from us in order to not get swallowed up by it.  Let's all hope that we can be gracious with one another as we pass the baton from one generation to the next.

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