Cutting Paper Snowflakes is a Great Project for Seniors

Today is "Make Cutout Snowflakes Day". 

Winter can be a difficult time for many people but it can be an especially challenging time for seniors. A few winter activities can help with feelings of isolation and loneliness.

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One great activity to do with the seniors in your life is to cut paper snow flakes together. You can tape them to the windows for beautiful winter decorations. 

If you would like to see some great instructions for cutting paper snowflakes you can find some at instructables.com

Reading - An Awesome Tool for Caregivers

It’s rare for me to find someone who does not like to read. To be considered an avid reader, one does not necessarily read just novels. The sky’s the limit when it comes to what written words will attract one’s attention. Who hasn’t read the cereal box while noshing that important meal of the day? Ingredients, nutritional value, even where the manufacturer is located seems pretty interesting as we spoon those tiny oat circles into our mouth. Perhaps it’s the daily newspaper that partners with breakfast. Maybe it’s your favorite monthly DIY magazine that you can’t wait to read. As a Caregiver, I’ve seen seniors who read the paper with their morning coffee, browse a magazine with lunch and peruse a novel during the afternoon. I’ve also been a caregiver for seniors who don’t read at all due to lack of interest, poor eyesight or their mind no longer can focus to keep on task.

Reading to Seniors

I would be a lost soul if I could not read. 

To me, reading soothes my troubled spirit when my world is crazy.  I thank God I was never a smoker but I confess I am a bookworm; I am addicted to reading.  I often said to Rich, my late husband, “reading is my cigarette”.  Sometimes I am reading three books at once.  There’s a paperback I keep in the car (waiting in my car for a family member who has run into a store is not boring when I can read – it’s like a stolen moment in time!).  Umm…maybe my pocketbook is on the heavy side because of the novel I carry.  My bedside table always holds at least two to three books – I tend to read according to my mood of the night.  The written word takes my hand and leads me into a land where my stress, troubles and fatigue magically disappear. 

I learned to read in first grade when I sounded out the words in DICK, JANE AND SALLY.  Mrs. Reed, my teacher, let us read if we didn’t ­want to play in the sandbox or with the make-believe kitchen.  She always read to us at naptime – what an awesome way to fall asleep!  Ms. Farrell captured the minds of my peers in fifth grade as she read CHARLOTTE’S WEB on snowy school days.  Christie, my best friend since second grade, shares my love of the written word.  We were both so intrigued with MERRY LIPS by Jean Dixon that we read it many times. That novel was about a little girl who dressed as a boy to get into the colonial Army to find her brother.  I always wanted to own a copy.  About ten years ago, I finally tracked it down online and bought it. Out of print and no longer available in libraries, I felt like I had found a lost treasure.  I wanted my grandchildren to be as intrigued with little Miss Merry Lips as I was. 

In seventh grade, I read GONE WITH WIND, probably twice, and then once a year until I graduated high school (and a few times since).  I smile as I remember the Librarian at Stillwater Central School telling me that book would be too challenging for a 12-year-old because it had so many pages and was for adults. Not daunted, I read every chance I had and would lose myself among the hanging moss trees in the Old South, sashay down the winding staircase of Tara and yearn for a chance to be Scarlet O’Hara – if only for a day.  My love of history was born with the reading of that novel – thank you, Margaret Mitchell.

I also journeyed with Auguste Rodin in NAKED CAME I by David Weiss.  This fascinating novel opened my eyes about a rebellious sculptor from the late 1800’s whose passion was to create true-to-nature sculptures.  Now that was a hefty book that took me more than a few days to read.  I must say that the subject matter was not my “usual read” but it touched the rebel part of my heart and allowed me to identify feelings I hadn’t ever put a name to. That book is on my “must read again” list. 

Caregiving gives me the opportunity to engage seniors in conversations about favorite novels – the ones I enjoy and the books they have read or are currently reading.  It is interesting to hear their comments when I ask questions, such as “what’s the book about?”  I smile at their answers -- “Oh, so and so wants to solve a mystery but I can’t figure out why” or “Not sure, there are too many people running all over the pages who confuse me”.  The important part about seniors reading is that their minds are teased into remembering what’s going on in the book.  They are able to lose themselves, as I do, in the world of others’ imaginations.  They are stepping out of the humdrum of their now less active life and journey with the main character who perhaps has the adventures and lifestyle they once had, or wished they had lived.  I smile when I think about Paul, a senior I cared for a few years ago.  He had the most remarkable collection of literature about Abraham Lincoln, his favorite inspirational man.  Paul often confused what day it was, or what we had done yesterday.  However, his recollection of what the books that lined his den’s bookshelves were about – what era, what deeds were part of Lincoln’s life and what was his favorite part of the book -- was absolutely phenomenal.  Paul would often spend his afternoons lost in the life of Lincoln.  His eyes would shine and his body language reflected his joy when talking about that historical figure.  I believe his collection outshone any local village library’s books about that revered man.

If you are a caregiver for a parent, you have an awesome opportunity to give them a special gift.  Take some time from your caregiving and read to them – as they did to you at bedtime, so many years ago.  Wasn’t it awesome to hear about Peter Pan and his home in Never-Never Land, or laugh at Huck Finn’s trick when he was told to whitewash a fence?  Newspaper print may be too small for your Dad to read about his favorite sports team.  Why not read him the article about the game and then engage in some banter about the sport?  Not only are you engaging in conversation, but you are spending some time with your beloved parent – time that is so precious as their sun begins to set in the land of their life.

I’m about to begin reading THE SHACK to a senior I am presently caring for.  I had been told that novel has been made into a movie that will soon be in theaters.  That book was very, very special to my husband and me.  I had first read it in 2008, and then my husband, at my urging, read it.  It touched our hearts with awesome emotions.  When my husband and I took a road trip from our retirement home in Florida in June 2009, he asked me to read him the book during our drive.  He drove, I read.  He became teary many times as though the words in THE SHACK were touching his very soul – they were.  Unknown to us, this was our last road trip together.  We reached our family in upstate New York and the next day my husband met with his former doctor of many years – Rich was not feeling well.  He was diagnosed with esophageal cancer stage IV and given perhaps a year to live.  I lost the man who was the love of my life, for 43 years, six short weeks later.  When we had driven back to Florida after the diagnosis, my husband shared that he felt God had put THE SHACK in his life to prepare him for his journey to Heaven. 

When I told the senior I care for that THE SHACK was a great book and explained the subject matter, she became very interested.  I asked if she would like me to read it to her (as it is in small print and she can only read large print), she said she would look forward to that.  Voila!  And so, we’ll soon be walking the path in the woods, smelling the flowers and enjoying the warm weather, as we look for the mysterious shack and discover what role that rustic abode plays in the lives of a grieving family.  I will read and she will listen.  Our minds won’t be focusing on the cold, snowy wind as it blows across the lake.  We’ll be listening to the birds singing as we join a man searching for that old shack hidden in the woods.  Perhaps Spring just might come early this year!

 

8 Touching Handmade Gift Ideas for Grandparents

By Michelle Perez

Yes, you can buy a present for a loving grandparent from a store, but they can be very impersonal. Why not make one with your kids? Kids will love the craft time and grandparents will love having something homemade.

"When a grandchild makes a handmade gift, the present is unique and the grandchild is giving of his time," says Sue Johnson, a grandmother of six from Lancaster, Virginia, grandparenting expert and author of Grandloving: Making Memories with Your Grandchildren. "It's also meaningful because we know they have been thinking about us when they made the gift, and it contains something of himself."

Like Johnson, Kimberly Jo Ellingsworth, a grandmother of five in Monterey, California, understands the significance of a handmade gift. "I always remember the look on my oldest grandson's face when he would bring something he made home and give it to us," she says. "He was so excited, and then even more excited because we used it rather than putting it on a shelf somewhere."

With the help of some very creative grandparents, we came up with eight fun ideas for things your little one can make (sometimes with your help) for this special person in their life.

  1. Create a Collage
  2. Grab your family photos and laminate them to place mats to send to grandma and grandpa. You'll always be there with them bringing joy to each meal.
  3. Make a CD
  4. Record the kids telling their grandparents about their favorite times with Nana and Papa "as a reminder of the importance of being together," Johnson says.
  5. Share Some Sunshine
  6. Have the kids draw grandma's favorite flower, then cut it out and have them paste their photo on it. Draw a big sun with your child's photo in it, and caption it "You are my sunshine!" Teach your kiddos the words to the song and put it on a CD to accompany the gift.
  7. Assemble a Coupon Booklet
  8. Have the kids come up with 10 things they can do for their grandparents -- everything from raking the yard to baking their favorite cookies -- and make each idea a coupon to put in a book.
  9. Personalize Magnets
  10. Get some magnetic tape and put pieces on the back of family photos to create instant fridge magnets.
  11. Film a Homemade Video
  12. Grab the video camera and record your kids being goofy. Or, as Johnson suggests, ask the kids to relay "our family history from the eyes of your grandchild."
  13. Puzzle It Out
  14. Paste a photo of your child on cardboard, cut it into pieces and send with instructions saying, "Put this together and see who loves you!"
  15. Make a List
  16. Write a list of "I love you because ..." statements to send to the grandparents to let them know how special they are.
  17. Plan an Activity or Outing
  18. Yes, physical gifts are nice, but grandparents often treasure the gift of memories with their grandkids even more. Your child and their grandparent can organize something fun for them to do together. For example, create a family trivia game with facts about each person, set up a scavenger hunt or get messy with an afternoon of finger painting. You can take photos of the special day and put them in an album from grandparents to look over.

Handmade gifts can be a tradition that grandkids and grandparents alike can look forward to. Get the little ones thinking of a new gift idea weeks, or even months in advance. This will make for a rewarding present the grandparents won't forget.

Michelle Perez is a freelance writer covering all things Denver. Her work can be found here.

Source: https://www.care.com/a/8-touching-handmade-gift-ideas-for-grandparents-1212092341

Activities for Dementia Patients

Connecting with others is at the core of being human - and it's something that doesn't change when a person has dementia. We're often asked what are good activities for dementia patients. It's important to know that there are many ways you can continue to form connections and strengthen bonds with your loved one during this time.

12 WAYS TO MAKE A CONNECTION

People with dementia often return to long-term memories of childhood. Their minds seem to only recall their younger years, and this is often where connections can be made. The next time you visit with your loved one, try one or more of the following activities to create a connection with them:

  1. Create a Memory Bag
  2. Fill the bag with items reminiscent of their late teens/early twenties. Scented products work well for this, as scents are strongly tied to memory. Try including soap, perfumes and aftershave, or holiday scents like gingerbread, pine and peppermint.
  3. Look Through Photo Albums
  4. Photo albums with pictures from their childhood or young adulthood are best for this. Old periodicals are another good option, particularly those that include many photos such as Life or Time magazines.
  5. Read Out Loud
  6. If your loved one has a favorite book, read it out loud to them and let them hold the book and feel the pages. Encourage them to enjoy the distinctive "old book smell." Reading aloud works especially well with poetry, as the cadence of the words are familiar and calming.
  7. Listen to a Playlist of Favorite Music
  8. Download songs or set up radio to stream that features music from their teenage years. Many internet radio stations include everything from classic rock to big band sounds, their favorite music should be easy to find.
  9. Sing Old Songs
  10. If they grew up going to church, sing old hymns with them. If it's around the holidays, sing holiday carols or other special songs. Class sing-a-longs and music classes were much more common in schools prior to the electronic age. You might be surprised at what songs your loved ones know and remember from elementary school.
  11. Watch Old Movies and TV Shows
  12. Did your parents grow up watching westerns like Gunsmoke or family dramas such as My Three Sons? Perhaps they were more interested in musicals like "The King and I" or "Singing in the Rain." You can find many favorite movies and shows from the 40s, 50s and 60s on Netflix or other streaming services.
  13. Go on a Nature Walk
  14. Use nature to integrate sensory experiences into conversation. Listen to birdsong, touch the wet grass, smell the roses and feel the sunshine on your shoulders. Ask what their favorite outdoor activities were during their youth and try to safely recreate similar scenarios if possible.
  15. Look Through Old Cookbooks
  16. In the past, women spent a great deal of their teenage years learning to cook and young adult years cooking for their families. Discuss origins and variations on old family recipes, or better yet, cook with those old family recipes and share the results with your loved ones.
  17. Enjoy Favorite Treats
  18. Look for candy or other indulgences that were commonplace when your loved one was young. Many companies specialize in nostalgic candy where you can buy old favorites like horehound candy and soft peppermint sticks. Even simple things, like an orange, can be a treat to someone who remembers when you only had them during holidays.
  19. Visit and Connect with Animals
  20. People who grew up on farms may enjoy an outing to a petting zoo or family farm where they can touch and talk to horses and other farm animals. Ask questions about animals, old pets, or what it was like to grow up on a farm. This is a great activity to involve grandchildren in, since many kids today are not familiar with farms.
  21. Reminisce Over Childhood Toys
  22. Nothing elicits childhood memories like familiar old toys. Erector sets, kewpie dolls, sock monkeys and marbles were some of the most popular toys during the 40s and 50s. There are many websites dedicated to antique toys. If you have any old toys available, bring them when you visit, ask questions about how they were played with, or, in the case of construction toys, build something together.
  23. Bring Back Old Skills
  24. Did your loved one quilt, crochet or knit? Put a homemade quilt or skein of yarn in their hands and let them feel the weight of the quilt and the scratchiness of the yarn. You may be surprised to find that your loved one can still crochet or knit a little bit, even though they have serious memory or cognitive deficits. Often, the muscles remember what the brain has forgotten.

Your loved one may be different than the person you have always known, but they still long for connection and companionship. You can encourage that connection by using these activities to enrich both of your lives.

Source: http://www.aplaceformom.com/senior-care-resources/articles/activities-with-alzheimers-patients

Coming Soon! A Different Type of Assisted and Independent Living in Dover, NH

Your new home in Dover, NH with care as you need it!

Dover, NH now features a beautiful and brand new complex specifically designed to provide apartments for those 62+ with daily needs. This unique concept provides the option of in-home care provided by Abundant Blessings Homecare for those who need a helping hand. Mast Landing also offers dining services.

Abundant Blessings Homecare is partnering with Mast Landing Senior Care Housing to provide service enriched housing. 

Summer activities for the aging!

Summer is rapidly approaching, are you racking your brain trying to think of things to do with your aging loved ones? We have some ideas to help you! First of all, think of things that your loved one would enjoy, eg: picnics, walks. Try to incorporate those into summer-time fun! Here some idea's on behalf of us:

Create a garden, it doesn't have to be big or elaborate, it could even be a garden box. This is a fun activity that come with a beautiful product!

Attend a baseball game, or town festival! This provides great entertainment for all!

Pick a new hobby, such as bird watching! Identify all different kinds of birds with your loved one, it keeps your brain busy, and you occupied!

Take stroll to your nearest beach, or lake. You and your loved one can cool off while catching a great view! Even just dipping your feet in can cool you off on a hot summer's day!

Go for a picnic in the shade. You and your loved one can prepare the food and pack the basket together, help keep their minds stimulated! 

Go to the park and people watch. Let your loved one reminisce on being young and seeing the children play. Listen to their stories of being young, or having children.

Don't forget sunscreen and water for all!

Older Adults and Exercise

We are all probably aware that exercise is good for us.  It improves our overall functioning, both physically and mentally.  It not only helps us live longer, healthier lives, but it also goes a long way in keeping us more independent as we age and allowing us to continue to participate in many of the activities that we enjoy.  It improves our mood, and it feels good for our body.  Exercise has found to be an effective treatment for many health concerns such as depression, diabetes, arthritis, and high blood pressure.  It can prevent or delay the onset of other health conditions as well.  And on the opposite end of the spectrum, those who are inactive are twice as likely to suffer from heart disease. They also have a higher risk of hospitalization and are dependent upon more medications than those who remain active throughout their lives. 

It is easy for anyone to make excuses about exercising.  We are too busy, too tired, unmotivated at times.  As we age we have even more excuses at our fingertips.  Aches and pains, lack of stamina, feeling the need to “take it easy”. These things add up and over time a lot of older adults become more inactive as they age, when it is actually a time in our lives that it is more important than ever to stay fit.  There are many moderate endurance activities that are recommended for older adults such as walking, swimming, dancing, tennis, golf, and bicycling. Make your exercise program a priority, and to help with this try to keep it interesting and fun.  Make it a social activity if possible. 

If you have not been active in a long time, start slowly and build up your endurance over time. Talk to your doctor before beginning any new exercise program and ask what is safe for you given any medical conditions, or to learn how to modify certain activities to avoid any problems.  If you smoke, are obese, or diagnosed with any chronic health problems such as heart disease or diabetes, your doctor can give you the best advice on which activities will be the most beneficial to you. Time is precious and we only get one chance at life, make yours the best that it can be! 

How to Plan the Perfect Picnic

August is National Picnic Month
Polly | September 19, 2012

If you're looking for a fun activity for seniors, a picnic is an easy, low-cost idea for an afternoon outing.

There are few joys as great as planning, and pulling off, the perfect picnic. Although picnics are sometimes thought of as old-fashioned they can actually be the simple, unique, and incredibly fun. Whether you are planning a romantic picnic, a family picnic, or an occasion-based picnic there are a few basic guideline that you should follow. While picnics appear effortless and nonchalant, a great picnic takes a little bit of planning and creativity. However, what a picnic does not require is a lot of money. This is what makes picnics a wonderful experience; you can plan a unique and fun picnic and not have to spend a lot of money doing so. Below are tips on how to plan the perfect picnic.

1. Pick a location

While you may want to start packing your picnic baskets right away one of the first things you should do is pick your picnic location. Depending on the type of picnic different locations could end up making all the difference. For example, a romantic picnic will benefit from choosing a location that holds special meaning to the couple, such as the flower field that they visited on their first date. A family picnic is made even more fun at a favorite park where there is a playground nearby for kids to play in. While an occasion-based picnic, such as a birthday picnic, will benefit from a location with beautiful scenery that is perfect for taking pictures.

2. Gather Your Supplies

If you don’t already own picnic baskets or picnic coolers then you should invest in some to make your picnic truly special. Picnic baskets make it easier to carry food, plates, utensils, and even wine glasses without things breaking or spilling. You can find a large variety of picnic baskets online including baskets that are extra large or that have special holders for wine glasses and come with plates and silverware.

3. Pick Your Food

Once you’ve looked at picnic coolers and found the perfect one for you the next step is to plan the food you are going to bring. Try to keep food simple. You don’t want to bring ice cream or foods that can easily spoil. You also want to steer clear of food that will need to be reheated. Instead pack cheese, fruit, bread, crackers, salad, cold chicken, sweets, and other foods that will be easy to pack and serve. Make a meal plan ahead of time so you aren’t digging in your refrigerator at the last minute for things to pack in your basket.

Planning a picnic is easy as long as you stick to a few guidelines. Once you pick the location, gather your supplies, and come up with a menu ahead of time you will be able to easily plan the perfect picnic that everyone will appreciate.

 

http://blog.picnicfun.com/how-to-plan-the-perfect-picnic/

Seniors and Exercise

Seniors and Exercise

Are you or a loved one an active independent senior? If so, I’m sure maintaining that independence is important to you. Sometimes a fall can mean crossing that line to becoming disabled. There are many articles and resources available to assist with tips on fall prevention. These are all helpful and important. This article, however,  is to help you think about it a little differently.

Many young people fall, yet are not hurt at all. They do not break hips, back, etc. Why is that? Young peoples bones are dense and muscles are strong. If we do not exercise our bones thin and muscles get weaker. As we age, Osteoporosis and sarcopenia are often the main culprits of this. Most people are familiar with Osteoporosis, it is the thinning of bone tissue and loss of bone density. Its early stages are often without symptoms, yet this disease is, in most cases, preventable. Sarcopenia is a term used to define the loss of muscle and strength that occurs with aging. This too is preventable.

Another common complaint amongst seniors is fatigue. Many have perfectly normal blood work, but still experience unexplained fatigue. Often the fatigue is accepted as old age.      Fatigue such as this is also preventable and reversible.

Many people think that Seniors should take it easy, relax more, and get more rest. Actually the exact opposite is true. The key to stopping and even reversing fatigue, sarcopenia, and even osteoporosis is exercise. Naturally anyone thinking of starting an exercise program would be wise to consult with their Physician first.

Studies have proven over and over again that no matter what your age, exercise is good for you. Even in the very old muscle can be built stronger, and bones made denser. Two forms of exercise are recommended. Aerobic and resistance exercise. If you are just starting out, this can mean walking briskly. It will give you an aerobic workout and plenty of resistance for your muscles. After a few months of daily vigorous walking, you may be ready to visit a trainer or physical therapist for greater challenges and greater rewards.

Strong bones and muscles will make you more sure footed decreasing the chances of falling in the first place. You will have more energy and less fatigue. Regular exercise can also help your blood pressure, insulin sensitivity, cholesterol, body temperature regulation, aerobic capacity, lower body fat, and many more benefits await you. So what are you waiting for, talk to your doctor right away and start exercising!

If you are looking for more information on seniors and exercise you might also like this article:  "Older Adults and Exercise"