One of the most effective ways to stay protected during the Covid-19 pandemic is to stay home. Staying home does not mean that a senior is automatically sentenced to ongoing isolation and boredom. Good elderly care involves keeping one active and connected while safe at home. There are activities that can help occupy time and keep the mind active. Here are a few ideas for caregivers that go beyond the usual list of sudoku, jigsaw puzzles, solitaire, and television.
Cooking and Baking
The activity of cooking or baking can trigger memories and create a great bonding experience. Certain smells or tastes can evoke emotions and memories that you can talk about. There are many ways this activity can benefit seniors physically, mentally and emotionally.
Deciding what to cook is the first step. If you’re already delivering groceries to an elderly love one, and they’re still able to cook for themselves, why not ask them if they want to try one of your favorite meals? You can provide them with the recipes and ingredients for your favorite dish or dessert. Or you can share recipes and decide together what would be best to cook.
Cooking and baking involve a variety of tasks that seniors can help with, depending on their abilities. Things like mixing, stirring, washing up or even handing you the ingredients can help keep them engaged and feeling part of the activity.
While you are helping a senior to cook and bake, they will like the reminiscing and connection and you both will enjoy a tasty treat together afterwards.
Fun Phone Calls
During this time, the phone is becoming an even more important source of connection. Talking on the phone or video calls may seem awkward for some family members. There are ways to make a phone conversation fun and engaging.
Is there a child in your life that loves to read, likes to make up silly songs or tell jokes? These are easy things you can do together over the phone. You can even make the phone call a time to share a bedtime story.
How about mailing them “surprises” that you can talk about on the phone call? The surprises could be a new book, a story that you started that they can add to and mail back, or even just a picture of them or you that you can tell them about. Phone calls don’t just have to be about “Hi, how are you?”
According to the American Geriatrics Society’s website HealthInAging.org, “No matter your age, it’s never too late to start being active or get back into being active.” But when it comes to physical fitness routines, one size does not fit all. Luckily, YouTube has something for just about anyone. If you need to help your loved one browse for the right videos, keep these points in mind:
Authorization - Their doctor should approve any physical activity before they start a routine.
Music - The right music can energize anyone, so make sure to find something with music they like.
Communication - The instructor should be easy to follow and be someone who is encouraging. Avoid boot camp fitness videos. This is not the time to hear, “Keep going, you sissy!” as if they’re training for a marathon.
Quantity - There’s never a guarantee that a YouTube video will be accessible forever, so make sure they’ve selected a few videos they like so that they’re not caught off guard if all of the sudden their favorite routine is nowhere to be found online.
Zoom - To keep their clients in shape, and to keep their business afloat, many gyms and exercise instructors are offering live classes via Zoom. These can be especially fun because you can see everyone else who is taking the class along with you in real time. The added bonus here is that your loved one is active and can connect with the others in the class. Your local senior center will be a good source of information on how to sign up.
No one knows how long it will be before we can resume life as we once knew it. But with a little creativity, we can help our elderly loved ones stay active and connected without leaving home.