Game Day for Senior Care

Dear Francy; I find that my dad is just not interested in any thing any more. I try and try to get him involved in things and he just sleeps behind his newspaper. Can you help?

First, make sure you tell his doctor. It could be that one of his meds is to strong and is keeping him tired out, or it could be that he is experiencing depression and that is how it’s showing itself. There are great meds for depression and they can make dramatic differences with one’s personality. My Georgie is experiencing early dementia and Zolof has really taken away his anxiety. So, bring it up to the doctor. You can fax a message into the doctor’s office. Ask the staff if they would call you for an appointment if the doctor feels the information needs a follow-up. Or write it all down and remember to bring it with you for the next scheduled appointment.

I always established things to look forward to like ball games, the Oscar Awards, a PBS special and made a big deal out of them for a week ahead. Then when the day came, I was ready with popcorn and down in my mother’s room watching the show with her. She got so she enjoyed the baseball games and the occasional football game. She loved the opening of the Olympics, the dog shows from New York and the various other specials I would find in the TV listings. Don’t be afraid to make the event sound a little bigger than it really is, let them get a little excited waiting for an event, it gives them something to look forward to and perks them up at the same time.

Once a month is a good rule of thumb to plan an outing that has nothing to do with the doctor. October means Halloween, that means pumpkin patches and decorations and the need for Halloween candy for the kids. That would be a good drive around afternoon for a senior. If they can not get out and walk, go somewhere to see the pumpkins and if they can walk take them into the store and help you get the candy to hand out at the door. If you have some decorations to put on the house, ask them to step outside and hand you something as you work to perk up the front of the house. Get them involved in simple but meaningful chores.

Laundry day may seem mundane, but folding laundry takes muscles in the arms and memory of how to fold each item. Let them help you with the laundry. I used to do the laundry and then come and plop it on my mother’s lap and have her do the folding. She felt she was doing something again and it worked everytime. I would bring her up to the kitchen for special dinners and have her sit at the table and do some slicing of vegetables or shinning of the silver flatware.

You could make sure your Dad is involved by having him help you put in a new dimmer for the dining room in time for holiday meals. Or help you pick out tile or hardwood for any home repair project. He could also help you around the outside of the house for winter update. I would always walk around and take note of what needed to be tucked away, trimmed, or re-placed before the heavy fall weather hit town. Now that is a perfect guy thing…just make it something you do together.

A weekly game of cards, checkers or chess is a perfect thing for a senior to do with grandchildren. Make it a repeated action and then follow that up with talking about it for a few days and suddenly an everyday occurance becomes an event! Have a small dry erase board with running total of the weekly games and make sure they get a price at the end of each month. A special pizza dinner or something small and fun for all, like a battery car or old fashioned yo yo’s. Make it more than just a small game, make it an event that will draw them all in and give them quality time together.

Emotions are so important to all of us. Seniors tend to turn off their emotions and men especially ignor any feeling of upset, until it effects their personality big time. So keep an eye open for ways to interject their daily lives with little special moments. It makes aging so much more pleasant and caregiving so much easier when you deal with happy thoughts and deeds.

Life is never perfect, but it can be a lot nicer when you think ahead and take a few notes down so each month has a special day, each week has a special event and each day has a positive moment.

Please come and visit my home page and send me a question and I will do my best to answer.
Thank you, francy Dickinson

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