New Year, Old You? NOT

by francy Dickinson           

Dear Francy; It’s a new year but I am having a hard time convincing mother that she has a fresh start a head of her. How can I change her outlook and give her something to look forward to each day?

Yahoo, good for you. So few care givers think ahead enough to worry about tomorrow when they are so involved with dealing with the challenges of today. But you care enough to give your mother a fully involved life and I appreciate that in you. Good Job.

Here are some tips that will get you kick starting the new season;

  1. First review the holiday. Sit and talk about the nice time you had and the different people who came to visit and just let the memories of the family time be appreciated. Then ask your senior if they could have changed anything what would they have changed? Take notes, keep them on a positive track. Maybe the senior will say they did not see any Christmas lights, or they had so many people around on Christmas it was overwhelming or they felt left out. It’s a good way to take notes for next year. And yes, there is always a next year even when the senior has health challenges, next year will roll around and you will be ready with a different way to celebrate.
  2. Love the idea of grandchildren decorating the windows with easy to do snow flakes. You remember those from your childhood when you fold and fold the paper and then cut out little designs and upfold for a surprise treat. Put them up on the windows in your senior’s room and keep them until February.
  3. Buy a few bulbs and bring them in the house with new small pots and a small bag of soil. Cover the table with a big plastic bag and plant the bulbs. Then water them well and just let them sit in the window and force them into bloom early…it is so much fun do to this and the project is so good for anyone home bound. Or go out and cut some branches off the fruit trees and put them in warm water in the room…as the days go by the buds will grow and pop open early. Nothing prettier than flowering apple blossoms!
  4. How about a new cell phone or home phone for the senior. You know you can upgrade even the simple and easy to use cell phones this time of year. You can also find a great deal for hearing assisted phones that are easy to see and use for the senior.
  5. New pajamas or robes are a perfect way for you to put a great start for the cold weather in January and February. Add in a new blanket or electric blanket, linens are always on sale in January. So a great set of heavy plush towels would be a great addition too!
  6. Soups and stew are perfect in the slow cooker for this time of year. Warm and yummy, easy for a busy family and stick to the ribs – meals for seniors.
  7. A formal family photo. Holidays are busy, but after the holiday most photo places have sales and your senior can get dressed up with some blush and lipstick and take a nice photo with you. So you both can enjoy the memory.
  8. How about a class or lecture series. If your senior is able to get out of the house once a week – join them at a large local University, art museum, senior center, or upscale retirement center for “Senior University” classes. You will get great entertainment and lectures from folks that are stars in their fields and the classes are usually free. You are never to old to learn and enjoy new thoughts.
  9. Take a month off from doctor appointments. Call and make all the first of the year appointments in February so January will be a break from the usual doctor check ups. It makes a big difference when the senior can relax and not be worried about their next appointment time.
  10. How about a good old fashion massage or foot pedicure/manicure? Boy what a nice way to relax and enjoy the pampering.
  11. Say NO to desserts for a couple of weeks and let the senior feel the difference in their sugar intake and have them do a little more walking or exercises from their chair. We all need a boost of change this month and a small baby step to better food intake is good for seniors as well as all of the rest us.
  12. New Calendar for upcoming birthdays, Valentine Day Dinner or tea out, Chinese New Years and all too soon the spring. Lots of things to have on the calendar.
  13. Good month to have the carpets cleaned and have the senior’s chair moved and decide if they need a new seat cushion or adding a gel cushion. Maybe even a clean of the walls or quick paint update.

New – the year, the projects, the food, the exercise, the thought patterns. We all need to hit a new beat on the first of the year and the senior is just the same. If you are planning to clean then have the chimneys and air vents cleaned, the furnace checked and cleaned. The water heater drained and the dryer vents cleaned. Get things in order and ready for spring, by making this month – your month of change.

Thank you so much for your caring of your mom. I know how difficult it will be when a senior gets into a mood that their life is not worth a new season. But just simply doing the new chores, the new cleaning, the new foods, the new calendars, the celebration of today- not of yesterday – is what you have to keep doing. Fighting light depression in the dark winter months is very normal. But I said, fighting it, don’t give in. They will catch up with you and join in the fun.

 Lots of other ideas in my Senior Care Workbook 101 to help you with the everyday issues of in-home care for elders by family members and spouses. Blessings to you all this year!