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Family Caregiver Tips

4 Ways to Foster and Strengthen Senior Friendships

4 Ways to Foster and Strengthen Senior Friendships f you’ve ever watched young children on the playground, you know how effortlessly friendships are formed. A small group might be playing hide-and-seek, and a newcomer dashes over with a breathless, “Can I play?” More often than not, the reply is a resounding, “Yes!” and thus – instant friends. If only it were that simple as adults! Senior friendships offer a wealth of benefits, and they are especially essential for older adults who have been impacted by COVID-related isolation protocols. So how could you help the older adults you love to increase socialization and also make some new friends? Short of jumping into a pick-up game of tag, try these guidelines: Join a club. Brainstorm topics of interest with your family member: knitting, reading, gardening, fishing, sports. Next, search on the internet for groups in your neighborhood that meet up to enjoy those activities together. The neighborhood senior center is likely to be a terrific resource as well. If you cannot find an…

Learn How to Advocate for Ageing Parents by Improving These 4 Skills

Learn How to Advocate for Ageing Parents by Improving These 4 Skills “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” – Dr. Seuss, The Lorax Learning how to advocate for aging parents isn’t always easy; but advocating for those you love is perhaps one of the greatest honors – and responsibilities – you’ll have as a family caregiver. It means fully comprehending the other person’s wishes and needs, and communicating them to those who can help ensure they are fulfilled. If the role seems daunting and perhaps more than you feel equipped to carry out, or if you are just now having to learn how to advocate for ageing parents, there are several steps you can take to strengthen the skills you’ll need to be most effective. Observe. It may seem to go without saying, but with so many things vying for your attention, it can be easy to pay less attention than needed to subtle shifts in a senior’s condition, behaviors, or mood. It’s helpful to first make sure your own self-care needs are met so you’re…

Questions to Ask Aging Parents Today for a Better Tomorrow

Questions to Ask Aging Parents Today for a Better Tomorrow We’re all familiar with Benjamin Franklin’s sage advice: “Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.” This has special significance when it comes to knowing the questions to ask aging parents as you plan for the future: from the practical knowledge of what their wishes are for their remaining lifetime, to what their favorite flavor of ice cream was as a child – and anything in between. It’s a good idea to let your parents know that you have some questions you’d like to ask, and then schedule a time that will be uninterrupted, inviting siblings or other family members to attend as appropriate. Then prepare your questions in advance, thinking through ideas such as: Do you have a power of attorney? A do-not-resuscitate order? A will and living will in place? Are these documents gathered together in one secure but easily-accessible location? What are your wishes for care, if the time should come that it’s necessary? A nursing home? Assisted living facility? Or professional…

How to Help Seniors Experience More Joy

How to Help Seniors Experience More Joy It has taken nearly 80 years and a slew of research studies to determine the result: wealth and a good genetic makeup really have little to do with our level of joy. The Harvard Study of Adult Development launched in 1938, delving into the lives of high-profile participants such as John F. Kennedy and Ben Bradlee. Over the years, it has been expanded to incorporate inner-city residents along with offspring from the original Harvard elite, and the outcomes were surprising, to say the least. It was determined that the most effective predictors of a long and happy life were not genetics, IQ, fame, finances, or social class but simply close relationships. Robert Waldinger, director of the research study and a psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital as well as a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, explains, “The people who were the most satisfied in their relationships at age 50 were the healthiest at age 80. Loneliness kills. It’s as powerful as smoking or alcoholism.”…

How To Create a Daily Routine to Benefit Seniors

How To Create a Daily Routine to Benefit Seniors Life can be full of uncertainties. For older adults who are feeling less in control of certain parts of life, such as losing physical or cognitive functioning, focusing on exactly what can be controlled is empowering. A great place to start is by establishing a daily routine, customized to a senior’s specific needs and interests. Keep in mind the senior’s routine is not intended to be designed as a strict schedule that must be adhered to, but merely the basis for structure and predictability. With the older adult's input and direction, settle on a desired framework for each day. A sample day to day routine may look like this: Wake up at 7:30 a.m. Take care of personal hygiene needs and get dressed Enjoy breakfast in the sunroom while listening to favorite music Take a walk Tackle a puzzle or art project Pack a picnic lunch to take to the neighborhood park Run an errand Take a brief nap or spend some quiet time reading Make dinner together and clean up afterwards Have a bath Watch…

What is Elderspeak: The Grown-Up Version of Baby Talk

What is Elderspeak: The Grown-Up Version of Baby Talk Watch what occurs at the next family get together when a brand new mom places her infant in someone’s arms. The person is likely to transition immediately into baby mode: a high-pitched, sing-song voice, exaggerated facial expressions, and overly-simplified speech. Of course, this is quite normal and actually good for a baby's developing brain. Hopefully, however, when that baby’s great-grandmother enters the room, loved ones avoid reacting similarly. Yet it happens so frequently, and can be so damaging to seniors, that there’s a word to describe it: elderspeak. A recent research study by Susan Kemper, a professor who specializes in gerontology at the University of Kansas, paired elderly listeners with younger speakers. In spite of the seniors’ instructions to simply listen without interrupting while the younger people spoke to them – thus leaving no hint to the speakers that they were experiencing any difficulty understanding what was being said – overwhelmingly, the speakers…

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