Valentine’s Crafts for Seniors in Assisted Living

Valentine's Crafts for Seniors in Assisted Living

Valentine’s Day is about celebrating love and friendship, and it’s the perfect opportunity to get seniors out and about, connected, and having fun together. A very real danger to seniors is loneliness and depression, especially during the colder months. These Valentine’s Day crafts and activities are ideal for seniors in assisted living facilities looking for a fun way to commemorate Valentine’s Day with their neighbors.

1. Homemade Cards for Servicemen

Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to share happy emotions and best wishes. While some seniors might be feeling lonely at this time of the year, connecting with other people can help reduce negative feelings. A great way to do just that is to create homemade cards for servicemen and women. Gather construction paper, glue sticks, magazine scraps, and other decorative craft items and let seniors create and sign cards for deployed servicemen. If you need a less intensive activity, consider purchasing premade cards in bulk and letting seniors simply sign and write a note. Organizations like Hugs for Soldiers make it easy to get the completed cards into the hands of members of the armed services far from home on Valentine’s Day.

2. Vintage Valentine’s Tea Party

Recent research has shown that creating an environment reminiscent of a senior’s past can help encourage conversations, memories, and positive emotions. Why not give your Valentine’s Day celebration a vintage theme and take residents back in time to very happy memories? Set the tone with some music from the era, and research some old-fashioned favorites for snacks, like petit fours, macaroons, and crustless finger sandwiches. Decorate with paper doilies and perhaps even borrow a nicer old-fashioned serving set. Encourage residents to wear a festive hat, or red clothing to help celebrate.

3. Deck the Halls

Now that the Christmas decorations have come down, you have a blank slate for decorating your facility’s shared areas, hallways, and residents’ doors. Gather up your interested seniors, put out some Valentine’s Day cookies, and let the crafting begin. The end result not only makes your facility look festive, but gives the participants a sense of pride every time they pass by their handmade decorations. Ideas include:

4. Gifts for Others

Seniors may be on limited budgets or unable to easily go out and shop for gifts. Give them the means to make small tokens for their loved ones or friends this Valentine’s Day. For example, small clean rocks can be painted for pocket-sized love rocks keepsakes or paperweights. Seniors may also enjoy making and giving the very useful gift of a Valentine’s Day bookmark, customizing it with small pieces of fabric and ribbon. A collection of leftover buttons make the perfect elements to create a button heart, glued to a small square of fabric, cardboard, or wood. With a little bit or preparation and some hands-on time, they can create a precious gift for the ones they love.

5. Pop-up Cards

From childhood all the way on up to our older years, Valentine’s Day cards are one of the most enduring of holiday traditions. This year, help your residents do something a little different with their Valentine’s Day cards. Any kids, grandkids, or other loved ones they want to write to will get a kick out of these pop-up cards.

6. Crepe-Paper Roses

Who doesn’t love roses? Real ones are nice, but they can get costly (especially in February) and will wilt eventually. Paper roses, on the other hand, can serve as pleasant decorations in your shared spaces throughout the entire month.

7. Floating Heart Backdrop

Add some hearts to your lobby or recreational areas with this floating heart backdrop. It’s colorful, whimsical, and easy to make – especially with a group of seniors to help out.

8. Lacy Votive Holder

Candles add such a nice ambience (and you can always go with the LED version for safety purposes). These lacy votive holders from Martha Stewart can add even more ambience to the candles, bring some extra color to the room, and add an aura of class to any space you put them in.

9. Felt Fortune Cookies

Everyone loves fortune cookies – most people less for the cookie part, and more for the fortune. These adorable felt fortune cookies double as both a nice decoration your residents can help make and a fun activity for Valentine’s Day. You can pass around a plate full of fortune cookies and see what the future has in store for your residents. Take some time to write up some fun fortunes for everyone. Here are some ideas you can borrow.

10. Valentine’s Bird Feeders

These Valentine’s Day bird feeders have the especially nice bonus of attracting some lovely birds to your community for everyone to see. They’re simple to make, fit in nicely with the Valentine’s Day theme and are a craft that even the Valentine’s Day cynics can get something out of. You can make some for the facility itself, and stock up on enough supplies for residents to make some as gifts for their loved ones as well.

11. Fabric Hearts

Finally, we have our fabric hearts craft. They’re small, but beautiful tokens your residents can hang onto after Valentine’s Day passes, or give out to loved ones as gifts.

Not everyone loves Valentine’s Day, but those that do will appreciate having a way to celebrate. Those who don’t normally get into the lovey spirit of the day may still appreciate some extra color in the facility or a few more birds stopping by outside.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Written by Kristen Hicks and Megan Hammons

Via: https://www.senioradvisor.com/blog/2016/02/valentines-crafts-for-seniors-in-assisted-living/

Gift Ideas for Seniors: Top 10 Holiday Requests Seniors Likely Want But Won’t Ask For

What do you get Grandma this year? A new blanket . . . again? How about a pair of slippers? While those gifts could satisfy the needs or desires of a senior loved one, why not choose a present that is even more meaningful: a gift from the heart. While you may not be able to add the following 10 gift ideas to a shopping list, you can bet they’re on your loved one’s wish list.

top-10-things-senior-wont-ask-for

 

  1. Take your loved one shopping. Whether a trip to the mall or an online shopping spree, make it a special day. Be sure to tune into your loved one’s limitations and don’t overdo.
  2. Lend a hand.  Carry on the holiday cooking traditions, asking your senior loved one to help where he or she can. Or, ask everyone to bring a favorite dish.
  3. Wrap and send packages. Arthritis can make wrapping those holiday presents a challenge. Schedule a gift-wrapping afternoon, complete with hot chocolate, cookies and plenty of family stories.
  4. Deck the halls. Bending, lifting and reaching to get those holiday decorations in place isn’t always possible for an older adult. Enlist the help of the grandkids and make decorating a fun multi-generational activity.
  5. Send holiday greetings. Offer to spend an afternoon helping your loved one address and send holiday cards, either by mail or as online photo greetings.
  6. Plan a fun event. Get a group of your senior loved one’s friends together to serenade other older adults in an assisted living facility or nursing home.
  7. Celebrate the reason for the season. Attend a religious program with your senior loved one. Be flexible with service times if necessary.
  8. Focus on others. Get your senior loved one and the entire family involved in gathering supplies for a homeless shelter or serving a holiday meal.
  9. Stay connected. Help an older adult connect with loved ones far away, whether over the phone or through a video-calling service like Skype.

Give the gift of time. Sometimes all an older adult wants is companionship. Show that you care by making room in your schedule to spend time together.

From: caregiverstress.com

Holidays with Seniors: A Successful Thanksgiving

The Original Thanksgiving Guest

The Original Thanksgiving Guest

It’s Thanksgiving again!  Millions of families across the country–and expats all over the world for that matter–are preparing themselves for turkey, stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauce, green bean casserole, candied yams, and I won’t even mention the desserts!  Year after year, it’s the same routine that we all know and love and stress over.  That is, of course, until something or someone throws the routine for a loop.  The common cause: an aging loved one, who is perhaps no longer the independent, lucid and physically capable person they’ve always been.

If you’re one of the millions of Americans this year who is more worried about preparing for Nana or Uncle Joe than you are about preparing your pie crust, don’t worry; there is plenty of advice out there to help you.  I’ve sifted through much of it and plucked out what I think are the most helpful tips.

Preparing meals for seniors

There are some things you should know about preparing meals for seniors.  The first thing is that seniors do not metabolize food in the same way that they once did.  And what’s more, their taste buds might not be as sensitive to flavors as in years past.  Don’t be surprised or offended or upset then when your loved one doesn’t attack your casserole like he or she used to.  In fact, you might want to think about preparing something special for your loved one, to cater to his or her changing dietary habits and needs.  Here are some tips taken from http://www.associatedcontent.com/:

  1. Make food that is easy to chew and swallow.  Dentures and reduced saliva production might make tough and dry foods difficult.
  2. Use less salt.  You don’t want to cause a dangerous spike in blood pressure or worsen water retention.  Remember, you can always salt the food on your own plate later.
  3. Add more seasoning.  To make up for the lower salt, aging taste buds and the dulling affect of some prescription medications, use savory, but not spicy, seasonings to provide more flavor.
  4. Use recipes rich with nutrition.  Seniors need to eat food that is high in nutritional content and calories to make up for their often reduced appetites. nutritiondata.comis a good source for information on the nutritional and caloric content of food.  Check AARPs recipe site for great Thanksgiving recipes for seniors.

Ask questions.  Take a moment to ask your loved one what they enjoy eating these days.  If they always loved a particular dish, ask them if they still do.  Ask them if there is anything they don’t like.

Keeping an eye out for hints of dementia

If dietary issues are not your concern, memory loss might be.  Early signs of dementia and Alzheimer’s are often first detected or otherwise confirmed at holiday family gatherings.  This might be for the simple reason that it is the only time of year the whole family gets together.  It might also be that with distant relatives around, and a disruption to the everyday routines, the conditions are optimal for noticing memory loss.  I found the following great tips on what to look for if dementia or Alzheimer’s is your concern from blog.ourparents.com:

  1. Look in the refrigerator. Is there expired food?
  2. Drive their car.  Check the state of the tires, oil, antifreeze.
  3. Investigate the house.  Check for cleanliness.
  4. Take note of how the pets are doing.
  5. Talk to the neighbors — this can be a bonus if you can ask them to keep an eye out on your aging loved one, even if just from afar.
  6. Identify any marked declines from the previous year, especially in organization, cleanliness, and personal hygiene.

Go to the source.  Sit down with your loved one.  Ask if anything has been bothering them.  Ask if you can help with anything.  Ask them questions about what they have been doing lately.  Ask, ask, ask.  Often hints will come out in what they say or what they can’t remember.  

And this is my own hint to add to that list:  Follow your instincts.  You know your loved one.  You know what their house normally looks like, how they normally speak and act.  If something is really out of place address it with them, but be delicate, as it might cause them fear or anxiety when you point it out.

If you already know that dementia or Alzheimer’s is taking hold in your loved one, here are some tips from http://www.alzhimersreadingroom.com/ that might help you cope:

  1. Stick with the familiar and maintain routines.  Avoid strange and noisy restaurants.
  2. Keep your gathering small, so as not to confuse your loved one with unfamiliar faces.
  3. Focus on the old memories.  Short-term memory is usually the most affected with Alzheimer’s and dementia patients.  Ask them questions about their childhood and younger days.  They just might surprise you with what they remember and you might learn something new about your loved one.  

For an interesting narrative on how one woman discovered the early signs of dementia in her mother at Thanksgiving, go here.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!   – Lynn

By Deborah McLean in Home SupportInformation You Can UseSocial Seniors

From: maineseniorguide.com/holidays-with-seniors-a-successful-thanksgiving/

Additional resources:

http://www.alzheimersreadingroom.com/2007/11/dementia-often-first-noticed-at.html

http://www.helpguide.org/life/senior_nutrition.htm