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!

Nature and Dementia

All of us have probably experienced the benefits of nature at one time in our lives or another.  The calming sound of waves on the beach, the gentle rain on a roof or the canopy of the forest, or even the calm breeze through the pines can knock our anxiety levels down a few notches.  What few people realize, however, is that there is genuine scientific evidence that reveals that which we’ve all experienced…nature is good for us!  It’s even better for those suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s.

It is so good for us, in fact, that in Finland regular doses of nature incorporated in their governmental health policy.  They may prescribe a walk in a natural area as treatment for anxiety, alcoholism, attention problems or depression.   But Finland is not alone as a country finding ways to combat the ailments of our century.  South Korea, Canada & the US are all studying nature’s effects on the human psyche.  Many questions are being answered as scientists delve into these areas of study, but it is mostly confirming what we all seem to know intuitively.  Nature is good for us.  It calms us down & helps us become more thoughtful.

Because Dementia & Alzheimer’s can be diseases that have some social stigmas attached to them, the diseases themselves are often accompanied with extreme depression or anxiety.  Regular outings into nature are incredibly helpful for those suffering from any of these diagnoses.  When you’re in nature, none of those things matter so much.  You can find a beautiful caterpillar, for instance, and be allowed time to pay attention to the exquisite detail of something that is currently in front of you without needing to remember its relationship to everything else in your world.  You can watch it for a long period of time without needing to rush.  You can remain calm & it will not judge your actions.  You are given time to think, to wonder & to be amazed.  You are given the freedom to be you. 

Of course, it is prudent to have someone along with you on your trips into nature.  We are not advocating that patients with dementia or Alzheimer’s wander in the woods alone as treatment.  But, as often as possible help those you care about to experience nature in meaningful ways.  Perhaps they’d like to bring along drawing supplies, or a camera for the outings.  Meaningful occupations that will bring attention & mindfulness are never amiss with patients & loved ones that struggle with these diseases.  It will likely improve their (and your) quality of life for years to come!



Age & Sleeplessness

Have you noticed that as you age, genuine, deep sleep is more & more difficult to attain?  Many people blame this sleeplessness on the aging process, but is it right to do so?  There are also, certainly, many older persons who can sleep well through the night.  So what steps can we take to try to have a good night's rest?

First, ensure that you have been active enough during the day.  As we age and go into retirement or stop working a regular job, it oftentimes gets harder to sleep at night, but not because of any health concerns.  Rather it is because enough energy has not be expended during the day to make us sufficiently tired at night.  Though our minds may refute this argument, the truth is, our bodies NEED certain levels of work or activity throughout the day in order to rest properly at night.  If they do not have that level of activity, they also do not recognize the need for rest.  Try your best to raise your activity level during the day, finding work that's appropriate for you and your abilities at this stage of your life.  Work at it with joy & later enjoy a more restful night's sleep.

Another helpful step that one should take is to establish a regular routine of waking and sleeping.  Sometimes, as we age, our schedules can be thwarted out of boredom.  We find ourselves dozing at various times during the day & not being able to sleep later, or staying up later watching television and sleeping in later in the morning.  Whatever schedule you decide makes you feel best, you should stick with it on a daily basis in order to obtain the most restful night's sleep possible for yourself.  Our sleep patterns are rhythmic & throwing off the rhythm can have adverse effects of our rest at night.

Also, cutting off any screen time in the evenings a couple of hours before sleeping should help to notify your body that it's time to begin winding down to rest.  Choose quieter activities that are not as stimulating, such as crossword puzzles, restful music, reading books, playing solitaire, etc.  Help your body to be able to identify the cut off time from evening activities to sleeping time by establishing a nightly routine.  Soon enough, you will find yourself longing for that time of day & looking forward to the rest that comes with it!

Finally, if you are still having problems sleeping after all of these steps, talk with your doctor about it & see if he/she can suggest any other steps you could take. Melatonin is an option for some people, others need something a little stronger in order to help them set the rhythm of sleep again.  Before you head to the doctor, however, be sure that you've tried everything in your power to re-gain sleep in a natural way.  Your body & mind will thank you for it!

Moving to Assisted Living? How to Downsize


  Downsizing is one of the most popular trends around the nation right now.  There are as many motivations to downsize our lives as there are lives.  Some downsize in order to move into tiny houses, some downsize in order to simplify their lives, or to allow them more time to travel.  Today we're going to talk about downsizing our possessions in preparation for a move into an assisted living situation.

How many of us are living with entirely too many items in our possession?  If we're honest, probably nearly every person in our country could stand to shed some excess in this area.  We've all got excess.  If you raised a larger family, especially on a homestead or farm, you most definitely have excess.  We're not here to examine how we find ourselves in such a situation, however, but rather how to deal with getting rid of some of the excess so that we can move forward into a healthier atmosphere for us!

The house.  What to do with the house?  It's a hugely daunting question if you've never considered how to make a transition from owning your own home to living somewhere else.  There is a proverb that says, “How do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time.”  This is precisely how you'll need to deal with getting rid of your house & possessions, one small step at a time.  First, know that you will not be able to do this alone, or quickly.  It will take time.  The first step would be to get an assessment on the value of your home/property.  Check with a local realtor with whom you can list it if you will be needing the income in order to fund your move into an #assistedlivingfacility.  If you do not need that extra income, consider giving it as an inheritance to someone you love, or preparing to sell it in order to gift the profit for those you love.  When you begin discussing the process with your family, be prepared for all kinds of emotional responses.  People have a number of emotions that are connected with places and memories & it is natural to see a full spectrum.  If there is a smooth way to pass it on or sell it to a family member without causing resentment, do so, otherwise you should feel no guilt at selling it on the market to avoid resentment between family members.

Once you've answered the largest question, you'll more than likely have an easier time with the smaller things you need to deal with.  It will also help you in other areas.  If you're selling or gifting the house, you'll have a time frame within which to work in order to have your things taken care of.  You can decide whether your large appliances or farm tools will convey with the house or property.  The smaller items will become much easier to handle.

Beginning with the more valuable furniture and possessions, decide which things give you joy & those that you'd like to have around you for the remainder of your life. Do not feel guilt about having them moved.  Do you enjoy playing an instrument?  Will you have room in the place you're moving to? Bring it along & you'll find that after you've downsized, you'll have more time to practice.  Do you have a favorite hobby?  Bring the items along that will enable you to participate in the hobby as long as possible.  Downsizing does not mean getting rid of everything you enjoy, but rather narrowing your scope to keep only those things that you DO enjoy and ridding yourself of the rest.

If you can, try to go through your home in categories & move as quickly as you can from one category to the next.  Discard those things that have no value to you or others.  Donate those items that have use to a charity.  Goodwill is working together with USPS to accept items that you ship free of charge.

You'll have obvious needs where you're going.   If you need kitchen items, consider which ones are the most pertinent to your situation.  Now is a good time to get rid of the excessive kitchen gadgets, pan collections, tea sets, silver service, etc.  If you're moving to a smaller location, you'll more than likely not be the one hosting large family gatherings & will, therefore, need fewer kitchen items.  Keep basic linens & clothing items.  Keep photos that are meaningful to you, distribute the rest that may hold more meaning for others in your family.

Above all, keep the lines of communication open with all of the people who will be affected by the decisions you're making.  You want this move to be a positive one for you and for your family, so don't allow petty miscommunications and misunderstanding to ruin the good things that can come from this time of transition.  Moving is always stressful, but taking it one step at a time, one day at a time, you'll be able to accomplish the huge task of downs