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From the Neighborhood Press

A Sweet Season

February is right around the corner. It may be one of the grayest and coldest times of year but it is also the month when love is celebrated. Hearts stay warm when we are surrounded by family and friends, especially here at Ralston Creek Neighborhood! In the upcoming weeks, your loved one will likely notice the special decorations filling their assisted living or nursing home community. There may be hearts, candy, and events to help remind them that love continually surrounds them. You can also help make the season sweet for your senior. Here are some ways you can help show them how much you love and care for them as we face the last full month of winter.

Consider involving all of your senior’s senses: sight, hearing, taste, touch and smell. We all enjoy engaging each of our senses when it involves something comforting and familiar. And for those with Alzheimer’s or dementia in Memory care or assisted living, it may be even more important to experience memory invoking sensory input, helping them relax and bringing them some enjoyment. Perhaps they remember receiving a particular kind of candy at this time of year. Or the sweet smell of their favorite perfume they would wear on those special valentine’s dates.

A sweet taste. Who doesn’t enjoy a box of chocolates? Or a bag of heart shaped candies! Throw a beautiful sparkly ribbon on the box and you’ve got something that will make Grandma or Grandpa’s eyes light up next time you visit. Some seniors have special considerations when it comes to sweets. With many having received dental work, they may not be able to handle anything too hard or chewy, for example. Stick with soft candies and try to avoid harder ones such as peanut brittle or chocolate made with hard nuts or toffee sprinkled in. If your loved one is diabetic, you could consider chocolate or candy sweetened with alternative sugars. Talk with their doctor about what sweeteners are the healthiest for them. There are many options on the market now that are diabetic friendly.

An inviting smell

Seniors often enjoy the smell of perfumes, room fresheners or body deodorant sprays. Ask your senior if they have a favorite scent and put together a little collection of bath products, room fresheners, candles or body deodorant for them. It’s important to check with caregivers and find out if your loved one may have an allergy or find some smells too strong. Essential oils can provide a soothing, calming effect for some. Look for products which are gentle and natural for best effect. Try to stick with sweet smelling scents this season to remind them that love is in the air! The smell of vanilla, candy canes and sugar cookies can be enjoyed by almost everyone.

Sounds of love. You can help put together a playlist of love songs from the time when your senior was in high school or college. Play some songs and see if they remember any of them. Their face may light up and they may have some memories to share with you about that season of their life. Make their favorites accessible on their smart phone or some other device so they can listen to some sweet music as they relax inside on cold afternoons!

A comforting touch. Seniors often crave interaction from their family. They look forward to hugs and having their hand held by those they love most. It’s important to find time in your busy schedule to stop by their assisted living home and visit in person. Check with your senior’s community hospitality desk before you visit to make sure you are following health recommendations during the flu season. Making sure you frequently wash your hands, wear a mask or stay current on vaccinations may be advised to help keep your senior safe.

Visual sensations. You can help brighten up your senior’s apartment with fun seasonal decorations or a bright cozy blanket sprinkled with hearts. You might also slip a family picture into a heart shaped frame and set it near to their favorite armchair. And next time you plan a visit, bring along a love themed movie that they would likely have enjoyed back in the day and watch it together as you sip on some sweet hot cocoa!

There are so many ways you can brighten up your senior’s life and bring them something sweet this season of love. Grandkids can participate too and create homemade cards for loved ones as well! It’s important to make sure seniors are remembered throughout the year. And each holiday or even a day as simple as Valentines Day is a great reason to celebrate with your loved one!

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