Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.Leo Buscaglia
October 1st, 2020, marks the “International Day of Older People” and no better day than today to be caring for older friends. The day comes with sweet memories and unique challenges. Most of us have that one (or more!) older person in our lives who is just so impactful; they helped mold us into who we are today! How do we show that special someone that we care about them? That we’re grateful for all their love and support? And how do we communicate all of this during a global pandemic?
Let’s be honest. Not all older folks are bingo fanatics and word-search gurus. So how can we engage our family members or friends in something that’s more enriching? Take a look at these ideas to get our older friends actively engaged!
The kitchen is known as the heart of the home, and for a good reason. We all connect over food! So, take the time to cook your mom or granny’s favorite recipe with her. If you want to make it a special treat, order the ingredients ahead of time, and have them delivered to her house. (You can even throw in a bottle of wine for some sipping-and-cooking.) By casually spending this time together, sharing laughs (because there’s bound to be a mishap in the kitchen!), and reminiscing about the history of the delicious dish, you can engage your loved one’s mind and hands. And, who knows, maybe you’ll learn some new things about your older friend or family member.
There are plenty of online possibilities to help host a paint night with your mature friends and family. Some sites even offer free delivery of the required supplies. How easy is that? Paint Night would be a golden opportunity to get all of your ‘Golden Girls’ (or guys!) together and make it a group activity. Painting & Vino even offers virtual painting classes, so you can get the whole family involved in the comfort of your home. That way, you get to spend quality time together, and you all get to keep a memento from the festive occasion!
If the older person you are honoring is a family member, why not make the time to draw a family tree? There are all sorts of awesome ways to create a family tree. Even if the pandemic makes it impossible to be in the same room together, phone calls or video chats are sure to brighten your elder’s whole week. Exercise your loved one’s mind by interviewing them about distant family connections, linking family members, and the stories behind each ‘branch.’ If you’re artsy, you can literally draw the family tree. Otherwise, opt to fill in the blanks of a family tree maker. Either way, it will make fond memories and a unique, beautiful gift to send in the mail to your loved one. There’s no better way than this to show caring for our older friends than engaging their minds over sentimental memories.
If you have a music-loving senior in your life, dancing might be just the thing! Not only is it a form of exercise, it is also a great form of therapy too. Who doesn’t smile when they see a line dance? And many of them are easy and fun to learn. Line dancing is perfect for mature dancers because the movements are aerobic enough to get their ‘juices pumping,’ but aren’t too strenuous to cause injury. Plus, you’re both bound to share some laughs. You will have a new skill to show off at the next family wedding! If your older friend has limited mobility, you can still have a little dancing fun. Check out some chair dances, and do them together on zoom! Caring for our older friends over music and movement can also involve the entire family, even virtually.
Transport yourself and your older friend into another world through artfully read poetry, inspiring tales, museum tours, and smile-cracking stories. By attending a book reading, you not only get to hear what’s on the written page but discuss it with your fellow book-worms. Podcasts are also another form of entertainment to stimulate minds and generate conversations. Books, podcasts and virtual activities will open aging minds to new ideas and experiences and cure mercurial moods. Plus, the new experience will infuse something fun into their life, giving both of you plenty to talk about in the weeks to come.
Kick up your heels or pull out your paintbrushes. However you decide to spend October 1st, as long as you spend it with your loved one or older friend, it is sure to be a rewarding experience for you both. Caring for our older friends is a gift for both of you each and every day.
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