Newness

If you are lucky enough to live in a place where the snow falls across the landscape periodically in the winter, you know what newness looks like.  For those of you who do not, you’ll have to use your imagination.

Imagine the fall season, when everything looks beautiful for awhile.  This quickly gives way to a season of brown, a season of sleep and of death.  The landscape becomes colorless and rather uninspiring.  Many times the paths become muddy, adding to the ugliness after fall.  You begin to wonder whether you’ll ever see signs of color again.

 

Seasons of our lives are like that too, devoid of color, of life & of hope.   The most important thing to remember during times like these is that it is only a season.  Sometimes the season seems to last a short while, and we are grateful.  Sometimes the season drags on until you’re not sure you can stand another minute.  Seasons are wonderful, because they are limited.  The brown time after fall does not last forever.  Neither do the ugly times we walk through in life, or the hectic times, or the times when everything around us seems to be losing life.

When snow comes, it has not really purified anything.  It hasn’t cleaned up the ground.  It hasn’t yet put fresh water into the springs.  It hasn’t fixed any of the things that need to be fixed.  It simply covers everything, insulates it and causes life to slow.  It changes the view you have on life because it changes the landscape around you.  It forces you to pause, and to reflect on what is possible, what is feasible and what can wait.  If it was not terribly important before the snow, it will be less so once the snow has fallen.  It sharpens perspective and priorities. And it gives our brains a time of rest to hope and to dream.  You cannot plant a garden, but you have a spot of longing to dream about the garden.  You cannot fix the roof, but you can prepare for the task on the next lovely day.

  In life, we all need the different seasons that we walk through.  Many people resent winter, but I’m an advocate of it.  Winter in life might seem as though everything is on hold, stuck, slow and cold.  But winter also gives time for rest, reflection and the dreams of hope to begin.  It insulates us for a bit so that all of life is not sadness or busyness.  It covers things with white so that we can change perspective and come again at life from a different angle and with a better strategy.  Just like newly fallen snow.  If you’re in a late autumn or winter season of your life, I recognize that it is sometimes very unpleasant. When those times come, try accepting it as a gift to slow, adjust, sleep and finally dream. There will be time enough to be busy once spring hits.  For now, enjoy the newness of freshly fallen snow.

Change VS Remaining The Same

Nearly everyone on planet earth has a hard time with change.  Think about this it.  For every major change in your life, what kind of pressure did life have to put onto you to make you willing to change?  Sometimes a job gets so stifling that you finally make the big change to find something else.  Sometimes our health goes downhill so dramatically that we finally start making dietary/exercise changes or finally go and see a doctor.  Sometimes relationships become so unhealthy that we finally confront someone, walk away, or decide to talk to a therapist.  In each of these situations, it becomes blatantly obvious that change is necessary, but even so, it take much time to work up the courage to take the step toward change.

I think that this is sometimes because nostalgia is so strong.  There are things that should remain the same.  The traditions & celebrations that we enjoy with our families bring much needed stability to us and for those coming after us, down through the generations.  If we change careers every year or two, the lack of continuity can be harmful for the financial health of those who depend on us. Change is not always a good thing.  Sometimes perseverance & an old fashioned “stick-to-it” attitude is the best option for our situation.

Growing old is a sticky spot to find ourselves in.  On the one hand, our families often look to us to be the long-term glue that holds the past & present together.  As we age, we notice that they look to us for cues as to when we should say grace at the table & when we open gifts.  Our children & grandchildren start calling to ask about special recipes that we make at the holidays.  And often, it seems, that just as they are becoming nostalgic about the traditions we've held dear for years, we're finding that we need to move on and change in new ways.

Because our children & grandchildren are growing older, we might finally feel the freedom to do some of the things that we didn't think that we could before.  Maybe, for some, that means traveling during holidays.  Maybe it means that you've decided you're going to get healthy mentally &/or physically & it brings repercussions in your family life.  Maybe it's something as simple as saying “no” when you really do not want to do something.  So how do you determine when things need to change & when things should remain the same for the sake of stability?

  1. Consider yourself & others. Is the change that you propose something that is for the ULTIMATE health & well-being of you & the others involved?  Notice I did not ask if it would FEEL like it was for their ultimate good.  Oftentimes unexpected change does not feel fantastic.  Examine your motives, then talk openly & honestly to the others that will be involved & move forward.  If it is an extreme situation, or if there are addictions involved, seek counsel from a professional as you move forward. You may need their support in days to come.
  2. Consider the children involved. Very young ones do not need to deal with adult issues that are going on.  Do your best to ensure that their worlds remain as stable as possible even if changes are required.  Figure out how you can carry on a semblance of normalcy through the change & help them to have good memories.
  3. Keep important traditions. Determine which traditions are important to you & others you care about & keep them up.  When there are huge changes (as in living situations) it can be difficult. If, for instance, you're moving to an assisted living community, but Thanksgiving has always been held at your house, work through where that celebration will now be held.  You can keep the tradition while changing the venue.  It may feel awkward at first, but you'll find a new normal to work from very quickly.
  4. In everything, show love. Whether you decide that nostalgia or change is the way to handle a situation, be sure to emphasize that you love the other people that will be involved in the decision. When people are sure of your love it will make even difficult things go much more smoothly.   

Adaptations For Aging

The natural process of growing older can creep up on us in a number of very subtle ways.  I'm so thankful it's a long, slow process, & that as we age we can learn to adapt to all the new ways that things need to be done.  Sometimes we are faced with arthritis, sometimes with bad knees, sometimes with a less than stellar memory.  It's important that we carry on with our normal activities so that we maintain our range of motion, mental clarity & normalcy of life. Fortunately for us, modern technology has come out with a number of products that can help us adapt to our changing needs.

When it comes to aging, many people find that gardening becomes a bit more difficult.  The constant bending and kneeling can be a great workout, but it is also hard on your back, knees & hands.  Many people have found relief by having raised bed gardens installed.  By using raised beds, one can sit on the edge of the garden bed & weed, plant & harvest without having to bend over. You could even use a kneeling pad on which to be seated.  You'll still be able to harvest your own healthful food & take care of flowers, just without the pain.  If you find that weeding or pruning is difficult for arthritic hands, you can buy ergonomically correct hand tools that should help.  Garden in shorter segments of time so that you are not over-using your joints & muscles.  Be sure to keep the sun off of your skin if you are out in the heat of the day, as aging skin is thin & can be harmed more easily by the sun.  Also, remember to wear gloves to protect your hands, especially if you're doing harder work.  Skin heals at a much slower rate as we age.

Rising from the floor, from bed, from a chair, almost anywhere can prove to be more difficult as we age, as well.  First it should be noted that there are exercises called “natural movement” exercises that can be incredibly helpful for aging individuals.  They are not high impact, but help you maintain & even build up your range of motion.  They help with some of the daily activities so that they become easier & so that we build strength to continue to do the things that we currently enjoy doing.  If you find that these exercises are not helping, or that your body needs further assistance, consider motorized beds & chairs that will rise & bend for you to get you started.

If you find walking to be difficult in any way, discuss this with your doctor.  There may be shoes that will correct the pain that you are having.  Sometimes it is just a matter of a little more arch support or wider shoes. Sometimes you may require a bit of physical therapy or a cane to use temporarily.  No one should just put up with pain when there are simple things that could help.  If your walking is adversely affected by vein problems, a doctor can recommend which weight of therapeutic hose or socks to wear to improve circulation & relieve the extreme tiredness of your legs & feet.  If your back is hurting during walking, physical therapy, braces or other interventions could help greatly.

I have known a number of older folks throughout the years.  Those who have had the best quality of life were not the ones who ignored their pain & tried to push forward, but rather the ones who admitted when things were starting to bother them & went about trying to fix the problem.  Long periods of time in pain do nothing except put long term stress on the body & the mind.  It makes a person, understandably, less patient, less understanding & also less tolerable to be around.  So, let's do ourselves & everyone around us a favor & admit when we need to think about making some changes so that our quality of life can continue into our 90's and later! 

When You Feel Like You're Losing Control

  “Being in control of the situation” is something that most Americans are proud of.  Whether it is a housing deal, a health care situation, or any number of other major decisions that we have to endure throughout our lifespan here on earth, we like to feel that we are in control of the outcome.  This feeling is especially prevalent when we are making major life changes. Moving from our home to an assisted living facility may be one time when our grasp on control feels like it is slipping.  Enduring a health crisis might be another time.  And each time that we are faced with these feelings, we have a choice about how to deal with it.  Sometimes, inadvertently, we choose to deal with these feelings poorly and can cause a great deal of stress and strain on our loved ones or those trying to help us. Some people have been noted to become mean-spirited, manipulative or just plain difficult simply because they don't know how to communicate their feelings. So, here are some tips on how to get through the seeming craziness of a situation beyond your control without losing your dignity and grace.

  1. Recognize what IS within your control. Perhaps you are dealing with cancer, or diabetes.  The fact that you have one of those diseases is not, in fact, within your control.  The things you eat, the treatment course that you choose, and the environment that you decide to stay in ARE within your control.  Make peace with what you are incapable of changing.  Perhaps one of your children is wanting to sell the homestead that they inherited.  If it is their belonging, it is not within your control. Boundaries can become blurred when we are sentimental about things, or when we feel another person is making a poor choice.  You can talk to them about your feelings, but then you must let it go.  It is, after all, a material possession & your relationship with them is much more important than that.
  2. Investigate WHY you feel the need to be in control. This can be a difficult journey.  If you find yourself consistently struggling and grasping for more control in your personal relationships, you might need to do some self-evaluation.  Often this is caused by past wounds that have been done to you, and times when you have felt very much out of control.  The problem with coping with the past in this way is that you can tend to become someone who manipulates current situations with extreme control because you're unwilling to deal with those past wounds.
  3. Work on letting go of the things that do not really matter. As you begin to do this, you will begin to realize that others around you are fully capable of making good decisions.  Even if they do not, it is not necessarily your responsibility to take charge of it.  If people around you are used to you usurping control, it may take them a bit of time before they understand that you're letting go.

  While it may seem counter-intuitive, letting go is an extremely healthy thing to do.  There are actually very few things in life that we have control over, anyway.  You might find a great sense of peace & freedom when you've laid down the burden of always having everything together, organized, & perfectly planned.  That freedom & peace can translate into things of lasting value, things like relationship, love, trust & genuine laughter.  So, as we age, let it be with grace & dignity.  Let our aging be the kind that makes people want to remember us with joy, instead of grasping for nice things to say about us once we're gone.

Essential Oils & The Elderly

Essential oils from plants have been coming to the forefront of American culture for the past few years.  They have been proven effective for many things through widespread use.  While the FDA may not have run tests on these oils & brands of oils, most of them have been used for ailments over a course of centuries, & we can be reasonably certain of the safety of the oils for intended use.  Use caution if you plan to ingest anything that you're unsure of or if you have not researched it thoroughly.  The suggestions given below are for supportive uses  that can help improve the quality of life of senior citizens through topical use & through diffusing into the air.  Always remember to ask for advice from your physician before trying new therapies that need to be in alignment with your doctor's care.

Lavender  This easy to find essential oil can be used in a diffuser to help promote sleep.  It can also be used mixed with water and a small bit of salt in a spray bottle, sprayed on bed linens & pillowcases to promote relaxation & sleep.  It is also helpful on small cuts or skin tears (aging skin gets thinner over time) & bug bites to ease itching & help the tissues heal.

Eucalyptus. Respiratory ailments can be alleviated by using this oil.  Put it into the diffuser or even into a steaming pan of water in order to allow the aroma open the airways.  You can also mix it with a bit of coconut oil & place it on the chest or under the nose in order to have the benefit of it being closer.

Antivirals.  Oregano oil is touted as being antiviral.  Different oil companies have other blends of oils that are said to be anti-viral, as well.  Diffusing these in the homes of the elderly is a wonderful idea, especially during influenza outbreaks, especially because influenza molecules that are airborne can be contagious for a long period of time. If you diffuse oregano oil, be prepared to become hungry for Italian food!

Peppermint & Lemon.  These two oils have a number of excellent qualities all their own, but when you mix them & diffuse them, they can be incredibly motivating.  If you know of a senior citizen that is struggling with lack of motivation, depression or sluggishness, this can be a very gently, subtle way to help.  You'll obviously need to do more than this, but this can be a small boost to start the day on the right track.  Peppermint can also be diluted with coconut oil & applied topically over the stomach if there are complaints of indigestion or intestinal difficulties.

These are just a few of the many helpful oils that are out there for us to use.  The list is far longer than the little introduction that we've written above.  Tread carefully & know that some of the oils may not be as helpful as others.  Much depends upon whether the company you are buying from is reputable, and whether there is genuine science to back up their claims.  If, however, you're looking for little boosts in the right direction, oils can be incredibly helpful.  As you learn more, you'll find that some of them can be used in far greater ways with far greater success than just altering moods & fighting viruses.  You certainly owe it to yourself & your loved ones to check into this amazing resource!

 

The Importance of Posture to the Elderly

The aging body is an amazing thing.  How life can take us from such a small creature to our prime & then through the process of growing old is remarkable indeed.  As we age, however, we discover that there are some things that we were never forced to think about before that have suddenly become important.  Posture is one of those things.  Our bodies are created in a very aligned way.  Life, circumstance and gravity seem to grow heavier over time and pull us further forward & down.  This can wreak havoc, not only on our muscular and skeletal systems, but also on our internal organs.  There is some natural stooping that will occur as we age, but we've all noticed that some people age much more quickly and are drawn downward and forward to a much greater degree than their counterparts of relatively the same age.  But, what is natural and what is not?

Calcium.  It is natural for your body to lose bone density as a person ages due to a lesser production of calcium.  Osteoporosis is common in post menopausal women and in men that are over 65.  This lack results in bones that are less dense & a bit of shrinking in the overall height of a person.  While this is natural, extreme stooping is not & should be addressed sooner, rather than later, by a physician.

Weight.  Aging can often come with an addition of weight which can pull at the skeletal structure bring it downward & forward.  Keeping this in check will have many health benefits, one of them being that your posture will be better.

Muscle.  Muscle strength is naturally lost as we age, but we mustn't give up and give in when it comes to our muscle mass.  Yes, some may be lost naturally, but why lose more by inactivity?

Joints.  Anyone experiencing arthritis knows how rigid and achy joints can cause one to draw inward instead of stretching outward.  Finding relief from this pain can do much to improve the posture.

Keep in mind that posture does not stand alone in your overall health.  If you slump forward, your internal organs are compromised in their functions as well.  It is difficult to draw full, deep breaths into your lungs which will ward off pneumonia.  Other organs, like the bladder, are weakened because of increased weight atop them that was never meant to be there.  It is not necessary that these things become issues, however.  Here are a few brief suggestions for you to improve your posture and attain a healthier life.

  1. It seems simple enough, but practicing being mindful of your posture is truly a difficult undertaking. Being sure to sit erect, stand, & walk without slouching can take a great deal of strength of will AND body!  Keeping your spine straight & your shoulders back and down is an excellent start on the pathway to good posture.
  2. Supplementing your healthy diet with calcium & vitamin D can improve your bone density & affect your posture positively. The vitamin D will also improve your mood!
  3. Building up your muscle mass & strength with do great things for your posture.  It will also give you the needed strength to make progress in your attentiveness to posture.
  4. Pain relief. Be sure to seek help in this area, especially if you have arthritis or another debilitating pain.  Our body draws in to protect itself from pain, & it is nearly impossible to combat this with attentiveness alone, as the drawing in can also be happening during sleep.  You should try to remain as pain free as possible. Do not think that “soldiering on” will make it easier in the long run.

A few such interventions as these listed should bring about great change & health for you as you age!  Enjoy your old age, & your years of wisdom while feeling great!

Safety Concerns for Loved Ones with Alzheimer's

 Do you love someone who is fighting Alzheimer's right now?  Do you provide care (either part time or full time) to someone who is fighting this battle?  If the answer is yes, then you know that there are often safety concerns related specifically to this disease that are important to address, not only for the person suffering the disease, but also for the care giver & family.

In the beginning stages of this disease, many of the suggestions listed will seem too complicated to put into place, more of a hassle than they're worth, but as it progresses you'll find many of these to be helpful.

Locking doors. The first thing that comes to mind would be the entrance & exit doors.  If someone has advanced to the stage of the disease where they are wandering a bit & often are not aware of their exact location, it is definitely time to implement this step.  Lock the doors.  Make sure that the lock is not one that they can overcome, but that the caregivers can use easily in case of emergency.  Some of the most tragic circumstances with Alzheimer's patients can be avoided by following this simple step.  It may feel like a heartless step, especially at first, when their freedoms are limited in this way, but their safety has to be your primary concern.  You can help them when they're outside & make it a priority to help them enjoy life inside & outside, but only if they're safe.  Also, locking doors of cabinets & drawers that contain things that could hurt them.  Start with the knife drawers, chemical cabinets & progress as needed.   This can be frustrating, especially for spouse caregivers, but is an important step to ensure that they do not harm themselves or others.

Remove locks.  On other inside doors, you'll need to remove the locks that might cause issues.  If a patient can lock themselves into a room that the caregiver cannot access, make sure that you modify the door handles in order to grant access.

Reduce the temperature of hot water.  This is easily managed by turning down the high temp on the water heater.  This can help to prevent accidental burns.

Proper footwear.  Look for shoes & slippers that make it easier to walk without slipping.  While you're at it, address slippery surfaces, tripping hazards etc. that can make it more difficult to walk inside & in walking areas around your yard.  Look at everything from a new perspective & address the areas that might be a problem.

Appliance & tool check.  If you have appliances that are hazardous for the patient to use on their own (the stove, for instance) you may have to modify them in order to be used by particular individuals.  Remove knobs & store away.  Put a lock on the oven door.  It is even more challenging to do these things when the patient has been used to using the appliances their entire lives.  They will not understand what is happening & will most likely find it unjust.

Two problem areas.  The bathroom & the kitchen are probably going to be your biggest focus areas, because they both contain more dangerous items & are prone to becoming wet & slippery.  Installing handicap bars, rubber mats & faucet covers in bathtubs can be a big help to reduce falls & make it easier for people to have independence for as long as possible.

Other general areas.  While the kitchen & bathroom are the most common problem areas, think outside of the box for other areas of the house.  Do you have a television that could fall on someone if they were seeing things that were not there & pulling it toward themselves?  Consider anchoring it to a wall for safety.  Do the same with bookshelves.

When these things are necessary, the patient will most likely not be alone & that is a comfort.  There will be someone with them helping them through this time in their lives, but even a wonderful caregiver cannot be there at every second.  Some of these things can help ensure autonomy & dignity, as well as safety, while you navigate this road together.

 

Finding Joy in Every Day Life

As we age, there is a definite sameness that begins to take over life.  Same routine, same feelings, same people coming around each day.  Once we've made the transition into an assisted living facility, that sameness can continue & even become crushing, if we allow it.  It does not have to.  Even if our life & routine are very similar from day to day, there are ways to look at that life with a new perspective.

Consider thankfulness.  When you are faced with the mundane, and wonder why you should even bother to get out of bed to face it, consider starting to be thankful for the things that ARE mundane.  The bed, for one, & that you have one.  Perhaps the roof kept you dry last night, there's two.  The heater is working, that's three.  You can breathe, four.  Go through the little things that surround you before you even sit up & soon you will find yourself thankful to be able to sit up & then stand.  It's not guaranteed that you'll be able to do those things for your entire life, so while you can, be thankful & when you can't, find other things to be thankful for.  It really does put a whole new spin on your outlook & on your day.  Our lives are, after all, made up of many consecutive, seemingly mundane days.

Show that you care.  I know, it's not popular in some households & frowned upon by people from some backgrounds, but it's important.  If you can spend even 15 minutes out of every day intentionally letting those around you know that you care for them, in word or deed, it will improve your life, bring you joy & bring joy to them. If you have 10 more minutes, drop letters to those who are further away from you.  If you have 30 extra minutes, call someone you care about.  The sense of connectedness is important to all of us.

Make a few lists.  In the back of my journal I have lists of my favorite sounds, smells, sights, etc.  Spend some time thinking about the things that you really love.  Then, when your day is especially difficult, try your best to incorporate some of those things into your day.  If you love walking in the woods, but never get a chance to do that, make it a point to do that when you're feeling down.  If you love reading, but haven't been able to make time to do it, eek out some time to spend with a good book.  You're a uniquely made person, and as such, you need to pay attention to the things that bring you joy.  They won't necessarily coincide with the things that bring joy to others & that's okay.  It's good to be different & it's good to pay attention to what makes you different.  Feed what brings you joy, starve what brings you anxiety.

  Turn your words.  Sometimes when life is incredibly difficult, negativity can set in.  It's not bad to say things are tough...it is bad when that is the only lens we see things through.  It is bad when it becomes such a habit that we find only negative words coming from our mouths.  Our words can influence our own thoughts & the thoughts of those around us.  Instead of dwelling on the fact that you can't afford XYZ, talk about all the great things in life that are free to you.  Instead of focusing on your waning eyesight, talk about the smell of the rose bush outside your window.  Life is hard, there is no denying it.  How we interact with it can determine whether it has any joy, or whether we'll just endure it.  I choose joy!

Reading, Cognitive Abilities & Dementia

 

According to several different studies of dementia patients, there is promising evidence that a number of activities performed by patients can actually slow down the progression of this disease. You've probably heard that doing crossword puzzles will help keep your memory strong, and that may be true, but in general, there are a whole host of things that one can do to keep your brain functioning at its best for the longest period of time, even after a diagnosis of dementia or Alzheimer's disease.  Reading is one of them.

Reading is an amazing thing.  It is a technical function, requiring the use of your eyes and brain to work together.  It is a learned function, generally requiring a bit of effort at the onset for the student to grasp the symbols and what they each mean, then stringing them together into sentences to make an idea come to life on a blank sheet of paper.  It's also a feat of the imagination, in order to “see” before you what the author is speaking of.

Most of us who have been literate for years think nothing of the ability to read, or of all of the mental functions that have to be operating in order for us to be able to engage in this activity.  Reading is active, whereas television viewing, is for the most part, passive.  This is why it's often more difficult to talk oneself into reading in the evening when you are sleepy than talking yourself into watching a program.  One requires of those activities requires something from you mentally, one does not.

For all of us, this is good news, but especially for dementia patients who are trying to fight back against the brain's process to shut down their memory.  Activities that exercise active cognitive functioning are perfect for keeping mental capacity at it's sharpest.  This does not mean that it will reverse a diagnosis.  It simply means that the patient will be trying to maintain the mental powers that they do have for as long as possible.

But, what should the patient read?  The simplest answer to this question is to start where there is interest.  If they are interested in gardening, get all manner of books, magazines & newspaper articles about gardening.  If they love fiction, get fiction.  Beginning with subjects that interest them will help to encourage even those who do not enjoy reading to begin to engage with written material again.

How about a challenge?  Many libraries also offer challenges to help people broaden their reading enjoyment.  Read 1 mystery, 1 non-fiction, 1 book of poems and read aloud 1 book to a child.  If your library does not offer these challenges, they are simple enough to make up yourself.  Just post them on the wall & check them off as they are completed.

What about libraries?  Some people begin to shy away from public locations once a diagnosis has been obtained, but a library is a wonderful place to visit for as long as is possible.  They are often very quiet, do not change much, and are full of areas to challenge cognitive abilities.  Looking up books and finding them in the aisles can be quite challenging, but there is always librarian help if it gets too frustrating.  Oftentimes, there are puzzles laid out on tables to be worked on and walked away from, at will.  Every type of reading material is available through your library or through inter-library loan to anyone who has an address and would like a library card.

If you happen to be working with someone who never learned to read, does not read well, or has perhaps lost the ability to read, books are not out of the question.  Most libraries have an enormous section of audio books to check out.  Start with some that you know to be enjoyable and work out from there.  There are also a number of online resources available, such as audible and librivox where you can subscribe and listen to a nearly limitless supply of books without having to actually read them in print.  This process will still stimulate the brain, though perhaps not as much as an actual print copy.

Encourage reading whenever you can.  Model it whenever you can.  You'll not only be doing a service to those around you, you'll be doing a service for your own mind.

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.

 

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