Christmas is over and all the excitement of the holidays and seeing loved ones. It’s a new year for many in senior living communities, assisted living or nursing homes here in Arvada, Colorado and across the nation. If you have a loved one, it’s the time to help them transition into the new year with great anticipation of the good things to come. Start by letting them know that you will be there for them, whether by frequent visits, phone calls or fun surprises in the mail. Just because the holidays are over doesn’t mean that excitement needs to end. It’s time to invite Grandma or Uncle out for coffee and set some goals for 2022.
Figure out what they need. Before you and your loved one develop some great goals together, touch base with their care givers, medical providers or staff who frequently assist with their every day needs. Perhaps your loved one is in memory care and has a specialized team caring for them. It’s a good idea to understand their immediate needs and the goals of their providers. Here are some ideas to discuss.
Wellness. If your senior is going through rehab in some way, it’s possible to help them achieve partial or complete recovery. Or consider memory care. Daily cognitive activities recommended by their providers can significantly help those with dementia or Alzheimer’s. Once you get on the same page as the team providing their care, you will have a better idea of goals in this area for the new year. If Grandma is recovering from a stroke, you could practice their daily exercises and activities with them and decide on a final goal – being able to go out to their favorite restaurant for a meal together, or a visit to your home. Something that would be motivational but also a very realistic goal to achieve together. It’s important to work towards something that is actually achievable for them. Perhaps your loved one has something in mind they would like to work towards.
If your senior has the opportunity to be part of an assisted living or senior community, find out how support services and planned community events can help. An environment that helps keep those in retirement living as independently as possible with assistance as needed can offer them dignity and grace as they age. Pair that with social opportunity to help them live a rich and fulfilled life, and they will have the balance and hope they need to enjoy the new year. You can even encourage them to participate in their community’s planned social events by attending with them as possible. Check with the hospitality desk before making any decisions as visitation rules may change on a daily basis due to health risk concerns.
Identifying a special interest. It can be very beneficial for a senior to have an interest or hobby they love to work with every day this year. You can help them identify an activity that they would enjoy, and help get them set up. They may enjoy writing, crochet, gardening or something else very specific. Find out what makes them happy. Discuss past hobbies they have had and carefully watch for the thing that makes their face light up as they talk about it. Now you’ll have something you can inspire them with, put specific items on the birthday and Christmas gift list, and have fun discussing when you visit or talk on the phone. If gardening comes to mind, you can try something as simple as growing a miniature indoor flower or cactus garden. Find out what their assisted living home would recommend. They may even have a community possibility for them to be involved in. Writing can be very inspirational and spark some interest in passing down stories or wisdom to another generation. All they need is a way to put their thoughts into writing, whether by recording, a laptop or some other method that enables them to create their story. Sometimes little things can help them achieve their goals such as optimized vision or hearing. They may not even identify these challenges themselves, or realize that they could even be improved. So work with their health team to ensure best health. The Denver area has much to offer in terms of medical support, so be sure they have the resources they need.
Having some simple goals to work towards together can make all the difference to help keep your loved one interested and inspired. It just takes a little effort, but you can work together as a team and come up with a plan. Let them know that you will be there for them throughout the year – not just during the holidays. Be their cheerleader as they accomplish goals and embrace the new year!