10 Tips for Seniors “in-Care” to Kick-start 2014

Ideas to keep a senior looking forward to the new year…to throw off the current depression over the holidays by francy Dickinson
George napping with Kirbee and his new, warm throw

George napping with Kirbee and his new, warm throw

Dear Francy; Uncle Chuck is really lagging behind since the holidays. He is tired, quiet, and his eating has fallen off. How can I get him revved up? The winter is long and cold…very little around to excite him and I don’t want him to jump down into a depression?

This is a big deal for a lot of seniors…even if they are not shut in’s…they start to dread the winter months and have very little to look forward to, in their daily life. Here is how I am helping George through the down feelings he was displaying from the holidays, into an up attitude for the winter.


  1. Update your wall calendar...let them see January, Feb and March. I know you have a calendar on your cell phone. But a senior needs to see the calendar in the hall or kitchen so they can feel the day and month changes. That way they keep an eye on the forward movement of time. Mark the football playoff’s and the Super Bowl, then the start of the Olympics. Talk these events up. If there are family birthdays…put those down on the calendar and add a picture of the family member so the senior can be reminded of which grand child is celebrating their birthday. Make the week busy on the calendar with appointments and highlights..it really keeps them looking ahead. Talk about it..everything in life needs a bit of PR:
    “We have lots to do this week, doctor appointments, a birthday, the football playoffs and I see that Sherlock Holmes is returning with new episodes this month.” (Add in the senior’s personal interests and take just a few moments of time on the web to look up something that is current and relates to the senior’s hobby or interests.)
  2. Weekly outings. Before George’s Parkinson’s took his legs and muscles away that caused me to add more time with him to help him walk….we would schedule things to do each week or at least twice a month. What is up in your area? You can find local events that are free or almost free…on your own town’s website. We have a playhouse that has a Thursday night once a month, that is on “love offering” to view the play. We have older movies in a local movie house that are reasonable and make a fun out and about. We have George’s friends from high school that come to visit and I get out the old photo albums, we have family that will come and enjoy the football game with George. Special dinners on Friday nights that are served in the dinning room instead of on a tray and early morning hot chocolate while you watch the sun rise. You can make the outings short or long…but make them fit the senior’s health, energy and interests. It takes time to be involved with the senior on this level…but the return of mini-excitements is well worth your efforts.
  3. Just add a few changes to the routine. So, George started to show signs of skin problems (with all his sitting in a chair routine) I had to change his routine and get him to move his weight from one cheek to another – every 40 minutes. So, instead of just getting him to stand and moving the pillow. I have added a little jig. When he stands he walks fast in place with me holding him and walking too. We do all of this together. He does this little jig for just a couple of minutes. Then we stand and take a deep breath and do an arm stretch that takes the arm and his upper body around as far as it can go and back. I hold on to his other hand to steady him. Then I let go and get him to balance and we laugh and do (we must, we must, we must develop our bust –you remember those) then in the end (still holding his hands) we bend our knees together and stuck out our bottoms and then stand up and pull those bottom muscles in as tight as we can hold them. This simple, few minutes throughout the day…has gotten him to have a steadier walk and better transfer muscles. Who knew? I did…I figured it out, because I got quiet and thought about what would help him. YES…it means I stop what I am doing every 40 minutes and spend a few moments with him…but the connection is good for both of us 😉 Don’t wait for doctors to tell you what to do..just get creative and see the changes for the good
  4. Is your senior cold? I was lucky enough to buy an electric blanket (throw size) for George this year. I bought it for Christmas gift, but gave it to him when we had our nasty cold weather here in the northwest, in early December. Boy, has the heat around his lap been a hit. I don’t have to turn up the house heat and I don’t have to dress him in 12 layers of clothes. He also got a nice travel pillow set with a small soft cushion and neck cushion and those came just in time to help George with the change of weight throughout the day. He is able to cozy into his electric Lazyboy chair and really get warm and rested. If your senior is using an older chair…or multiple throws to give them warmth…add a new layer of electric warmth…its been a big hit!
  5. Does your senior spend their day staring at a TV set? Well its time to change the chair…give them another view…put the TV in front of the window…so they do see the TV…but they can also enjoy the view out the window. Or move the chair to the largest window in the room and adjust the rest of the furniture. This keeps the senior involved with a fresh view. I also talk to George about what I will be doing in the spring…add a bird house to watch or a bird feeding station right outside his window. Add a fountain or a privacy fence so the senior can really enjoy the view of the trees, plants and right now “snow” right outside his window…instead of just having a darkened room with a TV blaring. Make their daily view new and interesting.
  6. OH, TV blaring...there are two things to let you know. First…we added something called a TVEars to the television a long time ago. It is a headphone system that allows the senior to hear the TV in both ears and gives you a break from the loud speakers. Then there is a new TV, that is easier to see and enjoy. Its time…for a flat screen for Grandpa. That is a fun way to have the kids and extended family put money together so the TV expense can be shared. It will be enjoyed…for hours everyday!
    Then the shock when a good friend got us a surround sound system. Instead of having the TV sound blaring so loud that the whole house is shaking…it moves the sound into higher and lower ranges and George can have one of the speakers right by his chair and I can turn the volume way down. He can still hear the voices and understand the story lines. I also have the “caption” turned on the TV…but the surround sound has really made a huge difference in the quality of TV for both George and I. (Thank you ‘Uncle Bob’)
  7. Time to change the daily menu...or just change the look of the everyday food? How about going to a small snack every 2 hours instead of the heavy meals three times a day. When George started to eat less…I started to think of ways to change the food. You can do this three days a week and then use the rest of the week for the usual Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner. I think you will find it’s easier for you to prepare small snacks and the seniors love it. I also have added a thermos of hot tea or ice water…so I do not have to run into the living room every five minutes. George is forced to think about refilling his own cup and giving him a task is a good thing.
  8. Problem solver. Both men and women want to feel needed. So sharing a problem with them and asking them to just listen or share their input is a good thing. Some times the senior shares information that is worth its weight in gold. Sitting, talking and listening for a few minutes each day…means the senior feels worthwhile and needed. You do not have to share heavy-duty stress issues…just the perplexing life situations that have to have attention.
  9. Keep the senior clean and wearing clothes that are new — not from their 1990’s closet. Often seniors feel they don’t need to update, they rarely go out and see anyone so who cares? They care!! Its time to get the senior some new daily shoes with gel in-soles and support. Shoes or sturdy slippers that look fashion forward and clothes that are made of cozy materials and are easy to wear…but newer and have color and fashion. This idea of getting both men and women to have their hair done, enjoying a treat of a pedi-cure at a local nail shop and/or wearing clothes that make them feel fresh and new…can raise the emotional outlook of 2014 up a few notches.
  10. Thinking. George does not need a daily paper…so my friend Cheryl has gotten him a subscription to TIME. That way he can read about the news in a full story form and understand it much better…than TV 24/7 day-to-day reporting of a current events. I often get him a Sunday paper and then bring him the small local papers when I go out shopping. George does not remember the information that he reads, his Alzheimer’s has taken his immediate memory…but he feels calm and safe with old routines. The TIME and Sunday paper are there for him to read and ‘think’ over and talk about, when ever he needs them…so he is not just watching TV. You and I may get our news from the net…but seniors feel safe with reading the headlines.

I hope these ideas get your creative juices flowing and you can add a few new things for your senior this month. 2014…it has a good sound to it and even though many seniors (in care) feel like their life is almost over….its really is just another new year…they may have many, many more…so its best to keep their chins-up and push them into the new year with a smile instead of quiet silence….
Thank you for taking time to care for your senior…keeping them at home, happy in a care facility or safe at home with you…all of those things means you have to give them your time and love…added to your normal life routine, it can make for a crazy/busy life…but you care enough to push through and still have a smile. That shows what a great person you are…thank you. Blessings, francy

Tea Cup Candle made by my niece, Shelley Hatch..fun way to remember Grandma's china ;)

Tea Cup Candle made by my niece, Shelley Hatch..fun way to remember Grandma’s china and easy to do with candle wax, scent, and wick…EASY  😉

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