Grateful Gatherings

As we prepare to give thanks and gather around the table…I remember.  I remember that it was just last Thanksgiving that we experienced a “first” in our community. It was the first time that all 16 of our residents were out with family at the EXACT same time.  It was a strange feeling for the folks that were working that day.  I remember them calling to tell me about it.  Oh, there is always plenty to be done and the staff was happy for the residents to be spending quality time with family and loved ones.  It was just a new first for our community.  What about you?  Is this the first year that you will be planning Thanksgiving after having moved a loved one into an assisted living? Are you concerned with all the preparation and worried about the visit?  Here are a few tips to help you stress less and enjoy Thanksgiving with your elderly loved ones.

Schedules and Timing

As much as you don’t want to plan out every little detail, you do want to give it some thought. Remember that if they are residing in an assisted living they may now be accustomed to a more structured routine.  You will want to check with the staff regarding medications and proper protocol.  You want to be sure to keep everything on track.

Food and Options

Our residents live very active and independent lifestyles.  They enjoy making their own choices and directing their care.  But it is important to consider their dietary needs.  Be mindful of food options.  Remember if Mom doesn’t need the extra salt or Dad needs alternative dessert options.

Time Away

One of the most common comments I hear from families is that they are shocked when not long after eating ….the elderly loved one is ready to go back to their community (new home).  Now naturally this makes an administrator very happy that a resident has come to feel comfortable in their community.  But don’t let it make you feel down.  Remember they have gotten on their own time schedule.  They are enjoying your company, but like many people after a gathering may need some rest.

As with all time together…just enjoy.  Make it special but don’t put too much pressure on your family member or yourself (for that matter) to meet unrealistic expectations.  Incorporate them into the conversation.  Maybe call ahead of time and get their special recipe for a favorite dish.  Spend time talking, relating and making treasured memories.  Savor these moments together and you ALL will come away from the gathering feeling grateful.

elderly african american man enjoying coffee with his granddaughter

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Banning Blue Christmas

So, what kind of person are you?  Are you the Grinch at Christmas or are you more like Buddy the Elf?  Hopefully you are somewhere in between.  The holidays are not all lights, baking and singing Christmas carols for everyone.  This especially holds true for some seniors.  The songs that stir the hearts of many during the season can evoke feelings of sadness for others.  But the best thing to do is not to allow the blues to get the best of you during the holidays or anytime for that matter.  Here are some tips to help you or a loved one cope and avoid a “blue” Christmas.

senior-holiday

  • Stay Active! Exercise is not only good for the heart it is also excellent for the mind.  By doing reasonable exercise based on your doctor’s recommendations and your ability, you can keep the blood pumping.  It also improves our metabolic rate and increases the production of endorphins which are those natural mood lifters in the brain.
  • Makeover your Mood! Studies show that the simple act of getting a haircut or even a hot shave makes you feel better!  Don’t discount the benefits of a nice pedicure too.  Feeling better about yourself will help make your spirits improve.
  • Eat Better! Now while the holidays offer many opportunities for sweet treats that we may only have once a year, it’s best not to indulge.  While these goodies typically show their havoc on waistlines, they have also been proven to derail our moods and cause depression as well.  So, don’t wait until the New Year to practice better eating.  Everything in moderation and stick to a well-balanced diet.

family-help-bluesThe U.S. National Library of Medicine notes that “some people experience a serious mood change when the seasons change.  They may sleep too much, have little energy, and may feel depressed. Though symptoms can be severe, they usually clear up.”  So, this is not something to minimize.  If you feel that your loved one may need more professional help.  Don’t delay and don’t minimize the situation.  Reach out and show love.  If they are living alone, consider a move to assisted living or to a situation that will help stimulate them socially.  Be sure to keep them engaged.  Remember the way we feel mentally has a huge impact on our health physically.

For more information and a guide to overcoming holiday depression for the elderly check out the link below for article published by the American Medical Resource Institute.    www.aclsonline.us/artcles/the-guide-to-overcoming-holiday-depression-for-the-elderly-and-their-caretakers/

For more information on Assisted Living at Great Oaks Management Properties visit:

http://www.greatoaksmanagement.com

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Thankful

November is typically the month where we stop and give thanks.  This year in our community we have a Thankful Tree.  Thanks to the talent and creativity of my staff members, this beautiful notion has come to life.  But the real beauty that you will find are the comments that are attached to the branches of this tree.  Residents and staff have given thanks for everything from health and happiness to family and friendship.  So, as our hearts and minds turn to the holiday season, here are some suggestions to help you prepare for those times we treasure the most.  Thinking ahead will make you thankful you did when it comes to sharing the holidays with your loved one that lives in an assisted living.

Stick to the Schedule

I have had families tell me time and time again that they were amazed that their parent was ready to go back home (to their ALF community) almost immediately after Thanksgiving or Christmas lunch or supper was over.  While they were surprised, in many ways it was comforting for them.  They realize that their loved one had made their community their home.  I am reminded of my own Granddaddy.  He was a man of routine.  He didn’t vary much from his schedule.  That is what I remind the families of our residents.  They have the tendency in some cases to become creatures of habit.  Trust me…they like a decent dose of predictability.  Don’t believe me?  Try canceling bingo!  But just try and be as flexible as possible with their expectations.  Plan ahead when it comes to medications and other necessities.  If you are prepared in advance it will be more Norman Rockwell and less National Lampoons Christmas Vacation.

Don’t forget to Include Me!

Does Mom have a recipe for everyone’s favorite Caramel Cake?  Does Grandpa have a story that he loves to tell?  If you have ever had to suffer the loss of a loved one, you know that things like this will one day become a treasured memory.  If Mom is able, include her in some of the preparation process for the meal.  Or even just ask her advice.  Everyone likes to feel included.  Maybe you have heard Grandpa Pete’s story about his days in the war a hundred times.  Maybe this year is the time to write it down.  In our culture, we get so caught up in being in a hurry.  Heaven knows we all can be glued to electronics.  Take time to turn off and tune in to loved ones.  Your conversations will be priceless to you one day.

Conversation Starters

While the holidays can be a time for sadness for some, it is best to keep conversation light.  But many forget that while seniors may be older, they still like to engage.  We all love looking at pictures on our social media accounts, right?  Share with your elderly loved one the photos from the high school playoffs or the trip to the pumpkin patch.  The pictures can be made large enough for their viewing on most devices.  You may even want to let everyone in your family go around the room and tell what they are thankful for.  You may find as we did with our Thankful Tree that what you hear will bless you more than you ever imagined.

Great Oaks Management communities will observe holiday meals during the Thanksgiving and Christmas season.  If you would like to join your loved one for a meal, call and make your reservation today. 

Celebrating Mothers

Mother’s Day is a celebration honoring our mothers, the special bonds we have with our mothers and the influence that mothers have in our society.  The celebration of Mother’s Day began in the United States in the early 20th century and has grown over time.  In 1914 Woodrow Wilson signed the proclamation creating Mother’s Day, the second Sunday in May, as a national holiday to honor mothers.

We celebrate our mothers with cards, flowers and perhaps a trip out to lunch. This year, take make some extra effort to make the day special for your mom.  Here are some ideas to make this year’s celebration one to remember:

  • Make it a whole day event. Plan out the day with several fun activities that are things that your mom loves to do, but wouldn’t make the time to do herself.
  • Gather the generations together to celebrate. If you love in close proximity to your mom and other female relatives, get everyone together to celebrate.  If you don’t live nearby, do an online group video call or group telephone call with all the special women in your family.
  • Take pictures and share them. In today’s world of social media and cell phone cameras, we don’t take the time to share all those pictures we snap on our cell phone.  Make a collage of all the great pictures taken this day and share with everyone.
  • Make a point to tell your mom how she has influenced your life. We all tell our moms we love them, but letting your mom know how she has positively influenced your life and the person you have become is a priceless gift.

So start planning now put your thinking cap on and come up with special ideas of your own.  Make Mother’s Day 2016 one to remember for both your mom and you.