Seniors & Holidays

Honoring Our Senior Fathers This Father’s Day

shutterstock_109532831

Father’s Day is a tough holiday for me because I lost my Dad 10 years ago this August. I try to stay busy that day and plan on doing something that helps me feel connected to him. I often make peach cobbler, which was one of his favorites. Because he was a big man and one of the smartest people I’ve ever known, watching him age was a bit disconcerting. But he still had answers to those “Dad” questions and loved to be consulted. Reflecting on our relationship, I realize even into his late 70s, I counted on him to be in the parent role.

Every senior parent has something to offer his child. It’s our job to find ways to honor them on their special day. When our fathers were younger, it was simple to pull together a cookout with the family all assembled. But sometimes that can be challenging if a parent now lives in a senior community, has health issues or dementia. So how might you make Father’s Day special for your senior dad? It may sound cliché, but give him the gift of your time.

Cait Boyce’s father, Tom Mills, lives at Hari Homestead, a senior community in Redmond, Oregon. Mr. Mills is a retired Marine officer, former high school English teacher and lover of books with an I.Q. of 160, making his Alzheimer’s disease so tragic.

Cait visits her dad often and says, “Dad doesn’t know who I am. He knows I’m someone he sees all the time and ‘a nice lady,’ as he tells it. We sit and hold hands, look at the mountains and the flowers together, but he doesn’t know my name or that I’m his daughter. We don’t walk down memory lane — it’s all about the here and now — look at the flowers, hold the chicks, pet the dogs. I think somewhere in the far recesses of his brain there is something that, at certain times, he remembers, but those are fleeting and I don’t rely on them. Life for us is what he sees daily and I enjoy each little moment with him.”

I asked Boyce how she celebrates Father’s Day with her dad. “Last Father’s Day everyone got a gold crown, beads, and a huge cake. I always direct the celebration at my Dad, but so many of the people there have family that seems to have forgotten them, so I feel it’s my duty to have everyone join in the celebrations,” Boyce shares. “We always have a birthday party with balloons and cake and hats for everyone. I always bring cookies for the guys and flowers for the girls. I think their favorite are the Blizzards — when it’s hot outside, I stop by Dairy Queen and get a bunch of mini Blizzards, so they all have a special one. As you can imagine, I seem to be their favorite visitor!”

Even if you simply spend some quiet time being present with your senior dad this Father’s Day, it will be appreciated. But bringing him a fun treat would be a nice touch!

How will you honor your dad this holiday?

SeniorLiving.Net is a free service for families to use that are looking for senior care or senior living for a loved one. Call (877) 345-1706 to speak to your local Care Advisor about senior care providers in your local area.

Senior Birthday Celebrations To Remember

birthday-senior

In the salon the other day, I overheard another customer saying they were attending a “175th birthday party,” that evening. Thinking I was attending a unique event with a friend’s 10th anniversary wedding vow renewal, I wondered if I’d heard correctly.

“Yes,” the customer continued. “My great grandmother is turning 100 and my grandmother is turning 75, so they are having a 175th celebration.”

Still impressive, although not as astounding as the literal interpretation, which would be a single person turning 175 years old.

The oldest person on record alive today is a Japanese woman named Misao Okawa, who celebrated her 116th birthday this March. Okawa celebrated with a birthday cake and loved ones and told news reporters she was “kind of” happy to be turning 116.

Many older people want to skip their birthday parties. Many feel they just don’t want to celebrate. Others don’t want to “impose” a celebration on loved ones. And some find it too depressing as too many of their friends have already passed on.

As with any aspect of aging, the choice of whether or not to celebrate a birthday is a personal decision. But as we enter the month of parties, where our weekends are spent celebrating dads, grads, communions, confirmations and more, let’s look at the best reasons octogenarians and beyond should still celebrate their birthdays, and some fun ways to do so.

Reasons to Celebrate
Whether you’re living at home, with relatives or in a senior community, friends and family want to see you. Really, they do. But sometimes it takes a special occasion like a party to shake up people’s jam-packed schedules and drag them out of their homes. I think we’d all agree a birthday is a much better reason to celebrate than a funeral, so give your loved ones an excuse to come see you with the bash of the century, or even just some cake and memories around your beloved kitchen table.

If you find celebrating a birthday depressing, it may help to count your blessings, which could include all the loved ones still in your life. Studies show that isolation is a major factor for depression in seniors, so surround yourself with friends and family to beat the blues.

How to Celebrate
Party planning may not be your thing, so don’t be afraid to ask for help. It’s okay to ask friends and family to bring a dish, making your birthday a potluck affair. Or, you can do a catered brunch with bagels and pastries for an easy, inexpensive gathering.

Liven up the event with party games. Ask each guest to draw a picture of a favorite memory you shared with them. It’s your job to guess the memory. Or ask each guest to bring an item that will conjure up memories and you get to share the “story” behind that item.

If you consider yourself to have a thick skin and an excellent sense of humor, plan a roast, where guests offer up insults with love.

Make Your Celebration Special at Any Age
Whether you’re celebrating a milestone 75th, 80th or 100th birthday, or just the passing of another year, the important thing is not the food you serve or what you do, but that you’ve taken the time to gather with loved ones on this special day.

SeniorLiving.Net is a free service for families to use that are looking for senior care or senior living for a loved one. Call (877) 345-1706 to speak to your local Care Advisor about senior care providers in your local area.

Inclusive Senior Summer Fun for Different Mobility Levels

inclusive senior citizen fun activities

Memorial Day marks summer’s unofficial start. Planning vacations, celebrations for summer holidays, and the opportunity to get out and enjoy the beautiful weather lifts people’s spirits. Farmer’s markets are springing up with the season’s local bounty, national parks are presenting special events and programing, and botanical gardens and flower festivals will be in full bloom. It’s especially nice to plan special outings with a senior in mind. If they are in an assisted living community or other senior housing, getting them out for a day trip is a great idea. But if your loved one has limited mobility, it is sometimes challenging to include them in your outings due to the barriers they may encounter.

So how do you plan summer fun that is inclusive to different mobility levels? The logistics become even trickier when you include babies in strollers. With good organization and prior research your special days will be rewarding for all.

  • Plan to go during less busy times – A farmer’s market; for instance, is usually busiest early in the morning with people wanting to get the best selections. If finding the biggest tomato isn’t a priority for your party, go a bit later.
  • Find botanical gardens with adequate seating – Older adults (and children) tire quickly and those in wheelchairs and with mobility devices will need a spot to rest away from traffic. Most community gardens have plenty of benches and rest areas.
  • Research national parks, monuments and theme parks for their accessibility – A quick perusal online will tell you how these places accommodate visitors with different mobility levels. Here are two examples:

Keep in mind that some places designated as historical preservation sites or landmarks are not always accessible. Due to the emphasis on preserving the historical significance, it is often a difficult and costly process to comply with ADA laws. Call ahead of check online for details.

SeniorLiving.Net is a free service for families to use that are looking for senior care or senior living for a loved one. Call (877) 345-1706 to speak to your local Care Advisor about senior care providers in your local area.

 

Creative Ways to Spend Mother’s Day for the Sandwich Generation

mothers-day-2014

If you’re a member of the sandwich generation, torn between caring for children and an aging parent, you already feel torn in half most of the year.

Mother’s Day can be even worse when you’re trying to find an activity everyone will enjoy. And isn’t this day supposed to be, just a little bit, about you? You might be the daughter of a senior parent, but you’re also a mom. It’s your holiday, too.

Read More»

Beyond Egg Hunts: Five Ways to Celebrate the Season in Your Senior Community

Easter-bonnet

After a long, cold winter the first signs of spring are finally showing up, in flowers beginning to bloom, warmer temperatures, and, of course, the two major holidays of the season: Easter and Passover.

Although senior communities may not want to focus on the religious aspects of these holidays, there are still plenty of ways to celebrate the coming of spring and even the secular traditions of the Christian and Jewish holidays, focusing on the food and culture. Here are five ways to celebrate the season of re-birth and renewal.

Read More»

Spring is Time for Renewal

Spring is Time for Renewal

Although spring officially started in March, April is the month when we really start to see evidence of the season beginning. We’re well into the month of renewal, rebirth, and reflection, which prompts so many of us to embrace the opportunity to “start fresh.”

Renewal can mean major life changes, but it might also be small steps to right our course or catch up with things that need our attention. If you are an older adult or caregiver to a senior parent of family member, the spring months are an ideal time to pause, reflect and take care of necessary business or pursue an interest. In addition to basic spring cleaning, the following are tasks and challenges to consider.

Read More»

Helping Seniors Conquer New Tech Holiday Gifts

shutterstock_165625217

If you’ve ever struggled to learn how to operate a new technology-based toy, you’ve probably only experienced 1/10th the frustration an older adult faces. Although many seniors are tech-savvy, many don’t have the cultural conditioning to technology younger adults do. Often called “state-dependent learning,” most of us have been surrounded by technology for most of our lives and take it for granted. This time of year is especially challenging when holiday gifts may include new televisions, tablets or phones. Helping a senior loved one learn how to use a new device might be in order.

I recently suggested my mother upgrade her mobile phone and found a model almost identical to her four-year-old flip phone. To her credit, she’s an avid manual reader and learns quickly. However, manuals are now relegated to online resources and she doesn’t have a computer. My mother insisted she needed a manual and after several calls to customer service, they printed out a sheaf of PDF manual documents for her.

Calling customer service for help with the new tech device is a good first step if there is confusion about its operation. Because they’ve worked with senior customers, the representatives will probably have solutions you and your senior loved one may not have considered. Cable TV companies may even suggest a more senior-friendly remote with larger buttons and fewer selections.

Create Visual Diagrams

Many people are visual learners and giving them verbal instructions isn’t always effective. Visual aids can be used on that intimidating new remote control.  There are usually buttons and features you never use. For simplicity, you might cover those buttons on the senior’s remote with colored tape and use arrow stickers or other indicators for the most commonly used buttons.

If you become frustrated while helping your loved one, try to recall how difficult it was the last time you had to master something very complicated. Remember also it’s often hard for older adults to ask for help because it makes them feel dependent or less intelligent. Patience is critical in this scenario. Think of the pride we feel when we accomplish a hard task. You will also feel good about helping your senior loved one.

SeniorLiving.Net is a free service for families to use that are looking for senior care or senior living for a loved one. Call (877) 345-1706 to speak to your local Care Advisor about senior care providers in your local area.

 

 

Use Holiday Movies and Traditions to Engage Seniors

shutterstock_165256466

Most of us have favorite holiday movies or television specials that evoke the comfort of cherished memories. Not only are watching these with family a way to connect during the season, the well-worn rituals have a calming and grounding effect for most of us. Enjoying holiday movies with senior loved ones, especially those with memory impairment, is a great way to engage them with a familiar past era.

Read More»

Easy-to-Follow Holiday Safety Tips for Seniors

seniors-walking-on-ice

Seniors have a lot to contend with when the holidays roll around. Not only do depression and suicide rates rise during the holidays, but there are all sorts of practical dangers, from house fires caused by Christmas trees to falls on snow and ice.

If you have a senior in your care, or if you’re a senior yourself, you’ll want to be especially mindful of these five situations to stay safe this holiday season.

Beware of Icy Steps and Walkways
We talked extensively about this important safety tip in a recent blog post. Seniors are at an increased risk of falls when temps drop below freezing, but keeping the steps and walkway free of snow and ice can go a long way toward preventing a fall.

Avoid Snow Shoveling Dangers
For healthy, active seniors, snow shoveling can be a good way to get in your daily exercise. But because of the increased risk of a heart attack while shoveling, seniors with a history of heart disease or who are at risk of heart disease should not shovel under any circumstances.

If you want to shovel or perhaps just help a younger loved one with the shoveling task, bundle up your entire body and face, leaving no exposed skin, in order to prevent frostbite. Take frequent breaks and stay hydrated. Remember to warm up beforehand with stretching, just as you would for any exercise.

Know the signs of a heart attack and if you begin to feel tightening in your chest, trouble breathing or extreme fatigue, call your doctor immediately.

Follow Christmas Tree and Holiday Decorating Safety
Between 2007 to 2011, U.S. fire departments handled 230 home fires caused by Christmas trees, and another 150 fires related to holiday lights and other decorations involving line voltage, according to the National Fire Protection Association.

Although Christmas tree fires aren’t common, they are some of the most damaging and deadly home fires, resulting in $18.3 million in property damage annually and a higher percentage of injuries and deaths than other home fires.

To prevent fires, make sure a real tree is kept watered and that needles do not dry out. Remove a dying tree immediately, even if that means taking it down just a few days after Christmas. Most Christmas tree fires occur after the holiday.

Additionally, use only indoor lights on your tree. LEDs burn cooler than conventional lights, reducing the risk of fire. Do not use lights with frayed or damaged cords.

Finally, make sure your smoke detector is working and has fresh batteries.

Understand Heating System Safety
Have your oil burner and furnace checked by a professional before you fire it up for the winter. If you rely on space heaters for supplemental heating during the colder months, make sure to keep these heaters away from upholstery. Look for a model that is UL-listed to meet safety requirements in the U.S. To avoid overheating or a blown circuit breaker, do not share the space heater’s electrical outlet with other appliances. Electric heaters are safer than fuel-based space heaters, and can significantly reduce your heating bills in the coldest months.

Is a Senior Living Community the Answer?
A move to a senior living community or CCRC (Continuing Care Retirement Community) can help address a lot of these winter dangers. Outdoor maintenance and shoveling won’t be a concern, and you’ll have the security of knowing your heating system is up to date and in good repair. You’ll have the peace of mind of knowing that help is just a quick call away if you should happen to fall while decorating your home. Finally, senior communities offer plenty of activities to stave off boredom and help you capture the holiday spirit all season long. There’s no reason to be alone in a house that’s too big for you, now, or at any time of the year. A move to a senior living community can reduce stress and provide a safer lifestyle for many seniors.

SeniorLiving.Net is a free service for families to use that are looking for senior care or senior living for a loved one. Call (877) 345-1706 to speak to your local Care Advisor about senior care providers in your local area.

Caregivers: Protect Your Senior Loved Ones in Icy Weather

winterwonderland

“Oh, the weather outside is frightful…”

But that doesn’t mean seniors should stay confined indoors for the next three months. A fear of falling can force many seniors to do exactly that, but with a few precautions, seniors can venture out safely if necessary. Staying housebound isn’t the best way for your favorite senior to stay active and stave off winter depression, either.

Senior Falls: A Real Threat
Falling on ice or slippery snow is a valid fear. According to LearnNotToFall.com, a website run by Philips Lifeline to raise awareness about the dangers of falls, 31 percent of all senior falls are caused by accidents or environmental conditions, which can include slipping on icy steps or sidewalks.

Here are some other quick fall facts:

  • One-third of seniors over the age of 65 fall each year.
  • One-half of seniors age 80+ fall annually.
  • Seniors who fall once are two to three times more likely to fall again. A fall-related hip fracture greatly increases the odds of another fall within six months.

These tips can help prevent the senior in your care from falling when the temps drop.

Making the Entryway Safer in the Snow

Many falls occur right in front of a senior’s home. Therefore, focus your efforts on creating a safe entryway to prevent falls. Follow these steps:

1. Shovel snow, chip away as much ice as you can, and use rock salt, ice melt or sand to dissolve the rest of the ice on the steps and path leading to the door. In a pinch, cat litter will also work to create a less slippery surface.

2. Check the strength and safety of the handrail. It shouldn’t wobble when you touch it and should be easy to grasp. If a handrail is not in place, consider installing one, or even one on either side of the steps.

3. Add a rubber mat inside the entry way to wipe off shoes and avoid an indoor fall. Also consider placing a bench with shoe storage right near the entry way, so the senior can remove her shoes upon entering the house and avoid the risk of trailing water, snow and ice into the home, where it creates a fall hazard.

Additional Ice Safety Tips

Here are some more tips to walk safely in icy conditions.

Choose the right shoes. 
Even though the path to and from their house is clear, it doesn’t mean seniors won’t encounter ice in parking lots or on sidewalks. Grab those “silver sneakers” or snow boots with flat heels and rubber soles for safer walking on snow and ice.

Walk empty-handed for better balance.
Encourage your loved one to get help carrying packages inside, so he or she can use both arms for balance, instead. Seniors should walk with both hands at their sides or on a railing, not in their pockets.

Walk slowly. 
If you’re walking with a senior, encourage them to take their time and pay attention to their surroundings to avoid a fall.

Be mindful of medications.
Some medications can adversely affect balance. Ask your loved one’s doctor if you’re not sure about side effects of medications your loved one might be taking. If drugs can affect balance, encourage the senior in your care to always walk with a companion.

Winter Home Maintenance Made Easy

In a senior community, snow shoveling and sanding of the steps and pathway are included as part of the regular maintenance. The paths and walkways in the senior community should also be kept clear and free of ice and snow.

Seniors can request help from staff if they are walking the grounds to reach the dining hall or an activity. In a senior living community, there’s no need to stay housebound just because there’s snow and ice on the ground and, indeed, rather than fearing freezing temps, seniors can have the experience of walking in a winter wonderland.

SeniorLiving.Net is a free service for families to use that are looking for senior care or senior living for a loved one. Call (877) 345-1706 to speak to your local Care Advisor about senior care providers in your local area.

Page 1 of 212