Are your next few months packed with family get-togethers and organizing activities for your kids who are off school or home from college? The summer is busy for everyone, and it can be difficult to manage a summer schedule while still squeezing in regular visits with your aging loved one who is living with dementia. Fortunately, you can make the most of your next visits by capturing a little summer magic any time you knock on the door or pick up the phone.
Why Socialization is Important
Older adults who live alone or who don’t have the opportunity to connect with others face-to-face very often are at an increased risk for isolation and feelings of loneliness. Recent research is pointing to the serious health challenges that can come with senior isolation. For example, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that older adults who are lonely and disconnected from others are at a higher risk for heart disease, anxiety, depression, and even premature death. Perhaps most unsettling is that isolation can lead to quicker cognitive decline, which is never good news for someone living with dementia.
Your visits with your loved one are important and help to build their feelings of connection. While you cannot offer them a full social calendar on your own, your regular visits are the foundation of their routine.
Get in the Kitchen
The summer season means fresh and delicious produce is at every corner stand and farmer’s market. Take advantage of the tastes of the season by getting in the kitchen with your loved one. Baking and cooking – as well as chopping and taste testing – are excellent sensory experiences that can bring about comforting feelings and memories. Your loved one also has the chance to work on fine motor skills and cognitive skills by helping prepare your next meal or snack.
Grab your loved one to head to the local farmer’s market and pick up a few ingredients for a smoothie or a charcuterie board. Then, head home to prepare it together. Depending on your loved one’s abilities, you can ask them to wash the produce, chop it, read the recipe, or just sit and enjoy the process. Don’t forget to turn on your favorite music to make it even more special.
Involve the Kids
With kids out of school or visiting from college, you have plenty of reasons to make an intergenerational moment happen on your next visit. Kids, both young and older, can sometimes feel awkward starting a conversation with someone with dementia. Eliminate that awkwardness by having the kids and your older loved one share an experience together. Bring a puzzle for them to work on together, make homemade bubble solution and head outdoors to try it out, or bring a stack of trivia cards. A little preparation on your part before the visit can make for lasting memories for everyone.
The summer season means lots of hot and humid days, but it also means pleasant evenings and early mornings. Try to schedule a few of your visits around the early morning or evening hours so that you can get outside with your loved one for some fresh air. Try watering the plants together, praying over a cup of coffee on the porch, or watching for shooting stars while chatting on the patio.
Let Us Help
Finally, the summer season means vacation for many family members. If you are heading out on vacation, don’t let your loved one’s social calendar go empty while you are gone. Respite care services from our CaringGivers team are the perfect way to ensure your loved one has friendly companionship and the support they need while you are gone.
Call us today to schedule services for your loved one.