As we grow older, our needs change, and so too must the way we interact with our loved ones. One of the best gifts adult children and caregivers can give seniors is a commitment to accommodate the slower pace and mental shifts that everyone experiences as they age. If we aren’t careful, we might rush through the time we have together and miss valuable opportunities to create new memories with our older loved ones.
When your parent or loved one begins to show signs of aging, don’t assume it will be harder to do things together. With a bit of empathy and some thoughtfulness, you’ll discover many perfect opportunities to experience life in a new way with your loved one.
Join a New Community Together
Consider joining your parent or loved one in becoming part of a community that meets regularly. It could be a church, an exercise group or a book club, but whatever the theme is, it will serve as a set time for you to spend together on a weekly or monthly basis. Ongoing commitments are a great way to work quality time with your loved one into your busy schedule. Without that gentle nudge from the calendar, it’s easy to get caught up in the fast pace of life and forget to prioritize your older loved one as much as you should.
Help Your Loved One Find Ways to Exercise or Be Social
Your aging parents might have a harder time getting out to socialize, but they still have the same desire to be social and healthy that they’ve always had. By taking them to social events or exercise groups, you’ll create another opportunity to spend time together while helping them fulfill their physical and emotional needs in a new way.
Create New Outlets for Their Old Hobbies
It’s possible that your elderly loved one has lost access to the garden, fishing pond or another hobby that has provided a lifetime of fulfillment. They would surely appreciate any efforts you can make to help them continue fostering that love. Maybe you’ll visit a garden club meeting or green house together, or take a trip to the library. Whatever you do, the thoughtfulness will show your loved one just how committed you are to helping them continue to enjoy life as they age.
Be Present and Take Nothing for Granted
Above all else, spending time with older loved ones presents a wonderful opportunity to practice focusing our attention on the here and now. To make the most of the time we have with them, we have to put down our smartphones and tablets, slow down our pace and be present in each moment together. By doing just that, we’ll create precious memories of living life together to its fullest, and that’s something to be cherished forever.
What are you doing to make the most of your time with your older loved ones?
Janette Foley is the Administrator of Dementia Services at Chicagoland Methodist Senior Services (CMSS) and the Director of The Hartwell, a residential memory care facility run by CMSS. She also provides guidance in dementia care for Wesley Place, Covenant Home of Chicago, and the Home Care divisions of CMSS. Janette credits her educational background and personal experiences with aging family members as influences on her lifelong devotion to senior care. She is a Licensed Nursing Home Administrator (LNHA), holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Northeastern Illinois University and is certified in Dementia Care and Programming.