Archive for the ‘Fun Caregiving Ideas’ Category

Kicking Off National Assisted Living Week: Great Things Happening in Communities Across the U.S.

Yesterday, Sept. 7, kicked off National Assisted Living Week 2014. This year’s theme is “The Magic of Music,” which, according to the National Center for Assisted Living (NCAL), “showcases the integral role that music plays in assisted living residences every day.”The Magic of Music logo

This year’s theme: “The Magic of Music”

“The Magic of Music” theme gives some credibility to the multitude of studies that show music can have positive impacts on people of all ages. “For older individuals with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia, music often has a soothing effect and can also trigger memories long dormant,” according to the NCAL’s Planning Guide & Product Catalog. “Music has the potent ability to enchant and provides the listener with moments of comfort and joy.” This is a phenomenon we’ve talked about before here on the blog.

And, the right music can get anyone up and moving – like this handsome gentleman whose impressive moves quickly garnered the attention of a few lovely ladies:

Assisted living communities are where it’s at this week

Paradise Village in San Diego is just one of many communities with a fun-filled week packed full of lively events planned to celebrate National Assisted Living Week throughout the week. Among their celebrations? An interpretation of Latin music through the dance of Tango, which kicks off the start of the week – which also happens to be Grandparent’s Day.

On Wednesday, the community will host its very own Prom Night, with military guests joining the dance. Other events include a fashion show and students from the San Diego Academy joining residents for song, along with bands and soloists set to entertain all through the week.

Epoch Assisted Living at Melbourne in Pittsfield, MA is hosting an event called “Music and Memories,” featuring June Green and Doug Schmolze, who are performing an interactive music program designed to evoke memories today, Sept. 8. Later in the week, an art opening with Rosemary Daly, featuring Daly’s scenes of the Berkshires, will be held at Epoch, and Daly’s work will remain on display throughout September. And on Wednesday, a drumming event will be held with Aimee Gelinas, according to The Berkshire Eagle.

The Sunrise at Fleetwood is holding a patriotic sing-a-long event, sponsored by Veterans Financial Inc., a financial services company offering education to seniors about the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ Aid and Attendance Pension. The event is open to families of residents, volunteers, staff and their families, and the surrounding community, and will be held on Thursday, Sept. 11.

More ways to celebrate “The Magic of Music”

Each year, the NCAL puts out a comprehensive guide outlining the current year’s theme with some ideas for fun and unique activities that engage both residents and staff, as well as family members and members of the broader community.

This year, in light of “The Magic of Music” theme, NCAL recommends tying in some music therapy concepts to activities programs and even daily interactions with residents, pointing to the growing body of research and everyday experiences that prove beyond doubt that music can evoke deep memories even in individuals with severe memory impairment. The Alzheimer’s Association has some excellent tips and resources for using music in therapeutic ways. Check out this article and this one for some ideas and insights.

Let’s not forget about the value of music in encouraging physical activity. It’s difficult for anyone to stand still when a favorite tune starts playing, so NCAL suggests using the power of music to get residents up and moving this week with fun activities like, “Sweat’n to the Oldies,” an idea that incorporates upbeat, lively music into regular exercise programs offered at communities, or even allowing residents to select their favorite songs from days gone by as the backdrop for the day’s physical fitness program.

Other residents may enjoy a gathering where favorite songs from their lives are discussed, along with the story behind the songs and the song’s significance to their own lives. Many people have songs with significance, such as their wedding song, a song that reminds them of high school, or a song that evokes memories of a long-lost love. This activity is a great way to get residents talking about the events that shaped their lives, and it’s one with the potential to get even the most tight-lipped residents opening up and engaging in conversation.

One thing is for sure: We’d sure like to be a resident in some of these assisted living communities, because it sounds like this week is set to be a blast! What’s your community doing to celebrate National Assisted Living Week this year? Tell us about your plans to celebrate “The Magic of Music.”

Seniors Get Social!

Mature dancing couple enjoying retirement livingWhile loneliness and isolation are common problems among the elderly, it doesn’t have to be difficult to socialize as a senior; in fact, it’s actually easier than ever. There are some incredible options for seniors to start socializing today, whether they prefer socializing online or in person.

Discount Activities

Discount groups like Living Social and Groupons often list discounts to social activities, such as painting classes, senior yoga, knitting classes and more. Consider using these discount sites to pay for items or services that would otherwise be too costly. Social discount groups are a great way to test something out before investing a lot of time and money into it, and you can use them to try out a lot of different things.

Meeting Groups

Online services like Meet Up let seniors connect with other nearby individuals that share their interests. If your elderly loved one adores a good hike, you can often find a hiking group in your area that meets frequently and sometimes has dozens of members. Social meeting groups can also be an excellent couples idea for senior couples that are looking to expand their social circle.

Online Dating Sites

Dating websites are a fantastic way to meet people. There are many incredible social dating sites, including Match, eHarmony and OKCupid. Match and eHarmony focus on pairing people in search of serious romantic relationships, while OKCupid is a venue for those seeking general companionship. Seniors should remember to always meet a date in a public place and to never go on a date without informing friends and family.

Social Media Groups

Social media sites like Facebook allow seniors to connect with a lot of people, including people they haven’t yet met. Within these social media sites, there are online “clubs” for a variety of special interests. Through these clubs, seniors can chat away about interests and hobbies. Social media groups are an excellent options for those who suffer from health issues that make going outside prohibitively difficult.

Whenever socializing with new people, always remember to be safe and, when in doubt, bring a buddy or family member. Being social isn’t just good for a senior’s emotional health, but can also bolster physical health through healthy living, excitement and a positive outlook.

You’re a ‘Fortunate Son’: How to Be a Rock (Star) for an Aging Parent

With an aging parent about to move in, you may feel excitement – and a certain measure of uncertainty. You might think to yourself, “Can I really do this?”

Rock Star Son out on a stroll with his elderly father

Relax, Rock Star.

With the right understanding and communication, your second stint living together does not have to be a return to your rebellious teenage years.

Here are some methods for making your family members – and yourself – happy and at ease when mom or dad moves in.

1. “Don’t Stop Believing” You Will Be Successful

Doubts are inevitable. Is this the best option? Can my family handle this? Will Mom want this? Trust that you are the best option. There is no right answer, no correct door to take and no one-size-fits-all solution. The only certainty is that you have to believe you can do it.

Keep reminding yourself:

  • You are the one your aging parent needs.
  • This is a worthwhile endeavor.
  • Your aging parent is a creative and resourceful mind who deserves a full life well into her sunset years.
  • Aging in place — with you — is the best option.

The individual that helped raise and take care of you is now in the trust of your grown-up hands. And you won’t let her down.

You can do it!

2. Show Your “Sweet Emotion” From the Start

From there, your action plan requires the mutual understanding of all parties involved — you, your spouse, your parent, and your children. This will be a community-family effort.

Give voice to how each person feels to get the ball rolling. Talk with each person individually. Begin with how you feel:

“I’m really excited that we can live together again after all these years! May I share with you some thoughts I have about living together?”

If they say yes, you can proceed. If they don’t want to talk about it, go back to step 1. Start over and reinforce your original message — excitement and promise.

Remember: there is a fine line between sharing your concerns and making someone feel unwelcome. From their perspective, they are giving up everything to move into your home. Have empathy for what this means.

Be specific about your concerns. Own them. Use the pronoun I: “I feel, I think.”

“Sometimes, I get concerned. I want to make sure this works really well for you, me and your grandchildren. I’m worried because we haven’t lived together in a while and there are expectations and I’ll disappoint you and I won’t know how to handle what you say.”

Remind them that you are coming from a place of love and always ask for permission to serve them. Don’t assume that good intentions are received as good actions without verifying with your aging parent first. Your goal is to open up a line of communication wherein talking about your relationship and your concerns is ok.

3. “Let it Be”

Elderly African-American woman and her rock star caregiving daughterYour parents are your parents. They have always been your parents; they will always be your parents. Just because they move into your home does not mean that they are living under your rules.

Do you hold a grudge that your mom didn’t love you as much as your sibling? Did your mom never support your career? It doesn’t matter now. Leave behind any lingering issues rather than trying to fix historical wrongs. Just swallow hard and let it all go. (Yes, easier said than done.)

Set a new future for you and your family. Listen to the words of wisdom, and let it be.

4. Get Ready. They Will “Rock You like A Hurricane”

The whirlwind of upcoming change requires a game plan. How will you prepare your home for the arrival of your aging parent? A few home improvements and installations will ease your loved one into their new abode:

  • Plug in nightlights around corners and in hallways for added safety
  • Place bath mats to prevent slips in your tub
  • Replace flip switches with rocker switches. They require less effort to turn on
  • Consider wider doorways for better wheelchair accessibility
  • If you have a two-story home, you may want to set up a first-floor bedroom to reduce the hazards posed by stairs

And of course: actively keep walkways clear of toys and possible obstructions that may lead to slips or falls.

5. Remember, You Are a “Fortunate Son” (Or Daughter)

What does it take to be a rock star to your aging mom or dad? Believe in yourself. Communicate effectively with your loved ones. Leave your old baggage behind. Fix up your home. These steps have been proven time and again to raise us mere mortals into rock stardom.

So be prepared and don’t strive to be the perfect child to your aging parent. There’s no such thing as a perfect rock star (Ask Mick Jagger!).

This was written by Shayne Fitz-Coy, the Co-CEO and President of Alert-1, an aging-in-place technology company headquartered in Williamsport, Pennsylvania with offices nationwide. Shayne has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Harvard College and a Master’s in Business Administration from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Shayne hails from Maryland, and now calls the Bay Area home.

10 Top Gifts for Your Parents in Assisted Living

Top 10 Gifts for your parent in assisted livingCelebrating birthdays and holidays with your elderly parents becomes more meaningful than ever before. That’s why you always want to give the perfect gift.

Space and physical limitations, however, make gift-giving challenging. Consider these 10 gifts that serve practical purposes and show your parents how much you love them.

1. Family Photo Albums
Your parents don’t have room to display dozens of framed family photos, but they will cherish a small family photo album. Make this gift even more memorable when you alternate pictures with journaling that tells who’s in the picture and what’s happening.

2. Beautician Gift Certificates
Everyone needs occasional haircuts, which makes beautician gift certificates perfect for your parents. In addition to giving certificates for on-site, community-based beautician services, consider finding a beautician who make makes house calls.

3. Appreciation Cards
Your parents need to know that you love and appreciate them. Write your heartfelt sentiments in a birthday or holiday card, and encourage your kids and siblings to do the same.

4. Special Outings
A trip to a favorite café, bookstore or park allows you and your parents to share a few memorable hours together. Plan this trip to occur on a birthday or surprise your parents with the outing for no reason at all.

5. Handheld, Electronic Games
Give your parents hours of entertainment and brain strengthening fun when you give them handheld, electronic games. Games like Scrabble, Tetris, Chess and Sudoku strengthen memory and keep your parents’ brains active. Plus, these games are fun and easy to carry from the living room to a waiting room.

6. Magazines
From pop culture to a favorite hobby, magazines entertain your parents. Your parents can then pass on the issues they’ve read to a neighbor or doctor’s office.

7. Non-slip Slippers
For late night visits to the bathroom and quick trips to a friend’s room, non-slip slippers provide solid footing and comfort. Be sure to select a design that’s easy for your parents to slip into and wash.

8. Extra Warm Layers
Help your parents stay comfortable and cozy in all kinds of weather when you give them a sweater, blanket or gloves. As a bonus, electric blankets and hand mitts soothe arthritis pain.

8. Specialty Pillows
A comfortable pillow can promote a good night’s sleep or cushion an aching back. Ask your parents if they would prefer a hard, soft, down, buckwheat or comfort foam pillow, and remember to buy a new pillowcase.

9. Professional Massage
Aches and pains plague many seniors. A massage may be just what the doctor ordered to provide gentle relief.

10. Snack Bags
Rigid meal times and dietary restrictions may limit the snacks your parents can eat. They’ll appreciate snack bags that include a variety of sugar-free candies and cookies, no-salt nuts, 90-calorie granola bars and rice cakes.

With these 10 top gifts, you meet your parents’ practical needs while showing them how much you love and appreciate them. Plan now to give these gifts for birthdays, holidays and special occasions year round.

Stop Paying Full Price – National Businesses Offering Senior Discounts

No matter where you live or travel, you can find businesses that are happy to offer discounted rates to those who are living out their golden years. Keeping these businesses in mind will help today’s seniors enjoy a full retirement, even while living on a tighter budget. From a meal to a hair cut, discounts for seniors are abundant.


  • Stop Paying Full Price - National Business Offering Senior DiscountsAlamo
    Seniors with an AARP membership receive up to 25% off and unlimited mileage with Alamo car rentals.
  • Amtrak
    Seniors age 62 and over receive 15% off their ticket.
  • Avis
    AARP members receive up to 25% off car rentals.
  • Budget Rent-a-Car
    AARP members receive up to 20% off.
  • Enterprise
    Free upgrade and 5% off rental for AARP members.
  • Greyhound
    Those ages 62 and over get unrestricted passenger fares at a 5% discount.
  • Hertz
    AARP members receive up to 25% off on rental rates.
  • National Car Rental
    AARP members save up to 25%, and all seniors ages 50 and over have access to discounts.


  • Applebee’s
    Seniors who apply for the free Golden Apple Card receive a 10% discount.
  • Chili’s
    Participating locations offer a 10% discount to those ages 55 and up.
  • Denny’s
    Denny’s offers a substantial 20% off discount to AARP members from 4 p.m. until 10 p.m. and $1 coffee all day long.
  • IHOP
    Those ages 55 and over receive a 10% discount at participating locations.
  • Landry Restaurants
    Includes Rainforest Café, Saltgrass Steakhouse, Bubba Gump, Chart House, Claim Jumper, Landry’s Seafood and other locations. Seniors can receive up to 10% off food and non-alcoholic beverages for parties of six or fewer people.
  • Shoney’s
    Diners ages 60 and over receive 10% off daily.


  • Banana Republic
    The chic senior age 50+ can get a 10% discount at most Banana Republic locations.
  • Goodwill
    Goodwill retail shops have a 10% discount day weekly for those ages 55 and over.
  • Harris Teeter
    With a store card, seniors ages 60 and over get 5% off on Thursdays.
  • Kohl’s
    Every Wednesday seniors ages 62 and older get a 15% discount at this popular department store.
  • Michael’s
    Tuesday discounts for those with AARP cards.
  • Tanger Outlets
    Seniors receive a free coupon book with discounts up to 20% off.


  • Regional Cinema
    Movie ticket discounts are available for seniors ages 60 and over.
  • U.S. National Parks
    Seniors can purchase a $10 America the Beautiful Senior Pass for free entrance to all national parks.


  • Best Western
    A minimum of 10% off room rate for AARP members or patrons ages 55 and older. Other perks like late checkouts may be available.
  • Choice Hotels
    Choice Hotels chains offer a 10% Mature Travelers rate for the 50 and up crowd and a 20-30% discount for seniors 60 and over with advanced reservations.
  • DoubleTree
    Those ages 62 and over receive a senior discount.
  • Hampton Inn
    A 10% discount for AARP members on the best available rate.
  • Hyatt
    Up to 50% off for guests ages 62 and over at participating locations.
  • La Quinta
    La Quinta offers a senior discount for those ages 65 and older on top of a 10% off  discount for AARP members
  • Motel 6
    Seniors ages 60 and over receive 10% discounts at this budget hotel chain.
  • Marriott Hotels
    A 15% off discount for ages 62 and over.
  • Norwegian Cruise Line
    AARP members who book nine months in advance can receive a 5% discount on their cruise.
  • Radisson
    Customers ages 60 and over receive 10% off the standard rate.
  • Starwood Hotels
    AARP members and those 50 and over receive up to 20% off the best rate.
  • Wyndham Hotels and Resorts
    AARP members receive up to 20% off, and non-members ages 50 and over receive 10% off.


  • Jiffy Lube
    Many Jiffy Lube locations offer discounts for those age 55 and over.
  • SuperCuts
    Patrons age 60 and over receive $2 off their hair cuts.
  • Teleflora
    AARP members always receive a 20% discount.

Getting Out: 10 Fun Activities To Do With Your Elderly Mother

A mother never tires of her daughter’s company. Day trips help you stay connected and have fun together. The next time you visit your mom, consider taking her on one of these 10 fun outings.

mother and daughter

1. Learn a New Craft

Your mom may be an avid knitter, skilled artist or enthusiastic photographer. If so, spend the day enjoying her favorite craft while learning new skills together in a class. Expand your horizons and learn a new craft as you make memories together.

2. Explore a Museum

From paintings to sculptures, museums house fabulous collections of artwork. Buy tickets to your local museum, and enjoy browsing the beautiful pieces with your mom. Be sure you choose a museum with plenty of seating in case she gets tired and wants to rest.

3. Go Shopping

Simple pleasures like shopping for snacks or a new blouse brighten your mom’s mood. So, spend the day visiting her favorite shops, exploring new stores and enjoying your retail therapy together.

4.  Attend a Concert

Whether your mom likes classical or classic rock, buy tickets to a local concert. Alternatively, attend a play at the local theater, and make sure she sees her grandchildren and grand nieces and nephews in their school concerts.

5. Enter a Poetry Slam

Creating poetry keeps your mom’s mind sharp. Before you start writing, read a few poems together. Then, choose a topic and write a poem or two. When you’re finished, sign up for a poetry reading at a local café or university and share your words with the world.

6. Visit the Pet Store

Cute cats, chipper birds and sleeping hamsters at the pet store entertain you and your mom for hours. You can also use this trip to choose a new companion for your mom. If she’s allowed to have a pet, pick out a fish or small rodent and help your mom set up the aquarium or cage in her apartment.

7. Attend an Educational Lecture, Reading or Seminar

You’re never too old to learn something new! Most museums, libraries, bookstores and universities offer author readings, scholarly lectures and other educational programming regularly throughout the year. Tickets are often inexpensive and if the venue is a public building, it will be handicap-accessible for easy access.

8. Get a Manicure

Pamper yourself and your mom with a manicure. Whether you visit the local nail shop or set up a mini spa at your mom’s dining room table, you’ll both feel relaxed thanks to your manicure.

9. Explore a New Town

For a change of scenery and a fun day excursion, explore a new town. Read about its history before you explore its architecture, shops and restaurants.

10. Visit a Friend

Your mom may be unable to visit her best friend or family members as often as she wants. If so, arrange a visit. Whether you meet at a restaurant or invite the guest to your mom’s home, enjoy socializing and catching up on all the latest news.

Spending the day with your mom gives you a chance to bond. By doing one of these 10 fun activities, you and mom will also have fun!

Emeritus Senior Living Launches “Maude’s Two-Minute Meddlings” Video Series to Keep Seniors Safe and Healthy

To kick off the holiday season, Emeritus Senior Living has launched a video series that provides valuable tips and information to help seniors (and those who love and care for them) lead safer and healthier lives.

The videos star the animated character, Maude, who likes to meddle and dole out advice for the greater good. A new video will be launched each Tuesday at Maude’s Facebook page, and her Twitter profile, @MeddlingMaude.

Emeritus Senior Living - Tips for Seniors and the People  Who Love Them

“We’ve taken a lighthearted and humorous approach to topics that can have serious implications for seniors,” says Jayne Sallerson, Executive Vice President of Emeritus Senior Living. “For instance, Maude talks about how to reduce the risk of falls, avoid scams, get a better night’s sleep and how to improve brain health, which can help delay the onset of the symptoms of Alzheimer’s and dementia.”

As families gather for the holiday season, the videos can provide adult children with a fun and easy way to start a conversation about topics that may be difficult to approach. The videos, such as ‘How to Live to be 100,’ which features advice from real-life centenarians, are perfect for the entire family to enjoy, as much of Maude’s advice is applicable to people of all ages.

The video series is part of Emeritus Senior Living’s “Safely Somewhere” program, the goal of which is to help ensure all seniors are safe wherever they live.

12 Resources to Combat Caregiver Stress

When we talk about caregiving, stress is always one of the most difficult challenges mentioned. Think about it: You’re comfortable in your routine, finally got a handle on how to keep your kids in check and out of danger after years of struggling with setting the right boundaries and encouraging the right choices…and suddenly, you feel like you’re back to square one, this time with your aging parents.

Oh, and your kids are still living under your roof and still fully capable of creating those all-too familiar feelings of sheer panic and worry when you think something is wrong. And they need new shoes, money for the mall, sports registration fees, and spending money — but mom now has a new medication that costs $400 a month and she can’t afford it. It’s not difficult to imagine how the stress level of a caregiver can easily spiral out of control, so it’s no surprise that caregiver stress always appears near the top of the list when the challenges of caregiving are discussed.

Ample resources for beating caregiver stress

Here’s the good news: There are many enterprises, organizations and advocacy groups who are paying attention to the many stressors that impact caregivers, and they want to help. There are tons of excellent resources to help you learn to cope with your stress, feel less guilt, get more organized and accomplish more. Because you’re busy juggling your caregiver duties, we know you don’t have hours to search for helpful resources — so we’ve done a little work for you and rounded up a few valuable articles, sites and other resources we’ve come across to help you recognize, identify and combat caregiver stress.

A dozen stress-busting resources for caregivers

1. Alzheimer’s/Dementia – 12 Stress Responses in Alzheimer’s Caregivers – Many caregivers aren’t even aware that they’re experiencing stress. That’s why this article from’s Alzheimer’s/Dementia section is so helpful. Are you exhibiting any of the 12 stress responses listed here?

2. Ask Dr. Chill – Chicago Now – Another article offering insight into the mysteries of caregiver stress, Dr. Chill offers some real-world examples of how your thinking might be getting the better of you. Don’t allow yourself to be weighed down with distorted thinking. Instead, become familiar with the ways your thought process could actually be hindering you – and find the solutions that work for you to move beyond those unnecessary negative thoughts.

3. Huffington Post – Mars vs. Venus – This article by Sherri Snelling, CEO of the Caregiving Club and author of A Cast of Caregivers, discusses the differences between men and women when it comes to coping with the stress of caregiving.

4. WebMD Stress Management Health Center – WebMD has a whole section dedicated to stress management, including an ample variety of articles and advice specifically related to caregivers.

5. – A website dedicated in its entirety to helping caregivers combat stress, is owned and operated by Home Instead Senior Care. A great place to visit if you’re looking for expert advice.

6. AARP Caregiving Resource Center – AARP’s Caregiving Resource Center provides all the tools, tips and information you need to manage your tasks efficiently, juggle work and caregiving, get answers from experts, and connect with other caregivers online.

7. PHA – Managing Caregiver Stress – The Pulmonary Hypertension Association has a section dedicated to caregivers caring for a loved one with this disease. This great resource covers coping with the diagnosis, adapting to the caregiving lifestyle, plenty of tips for taking care of yourself, and additional resources where you can get personalized help or find a caregiving mentor.

8. Caring Today – A great website with hundreds of articles written by caregiving experts on the many different aspects of stress caregivers experience, issues related to caring for loved ones with specific diagnoses, and other resources, Caring Today is a website associated with the Caring Today magazine you’ll find in many healthcare providers’ waiting rooms.

9. Today’s Caregiver – Another excellent resource delving into the struggles of modern caregivers — and the many enjoyable aspects of caregiving – Today’s Caregiver is packed with tips, advice, channels related to specific conditions and issues, and much more.

10. CareNovate Mag – 18 Simple, Time-Saving, Stress-Busting Activities – CareNovate mag is a plethora of valuable resources for caregivers, but we wanted to specifically highlight a recent post with 18 stress-busting ideas for caregivers. After reading these 18 tips, be sure to sign up for CareNovate’s newsletter and digital magazine. You won’t be disappointed!

11. ShareCare – A great resource for fibromyalgia caregivers, ShareCare offers a ton of tips and advice for caregivers, including guidance from experts. This article provides some valuable tips for beating caregiver stress.

12. – 5 Ways to Beat Caregiver Burnout – This article is targeted to caregivers of children with disabilities, but shares a very refreshing and positive approach that’s applicable to anyone in a caregiver role – whether you’re caring for a grandchild, a grandparent, a child with a disability, or an aging loved one. Definitely worth a read!

There are many more resources on beating caregiver stress out there. This list is intended to give you a unique collection of resources from different perspectives to get you started, recognize if you’re experiencing stress, overcome your negative thinking, and identify a few ways that work for you, your personality and your lifestyle to start beating the stressors that are weighing you down. What resources, advice or stress-busting activities do you use or recommend for caregivers? Share your ideas with our readers in the comments below, post them to our Facebook wall, tweet them to us @seniorhomes, or share them with us on Google+ — use hashtag #carestresstips to join the conversation!

Image via Flickr by George Vnoucek

Post by Angela Stringfellow

Gearing Up for National Assisted Living Week – September 8 – 16, 2013

Sunday, September 8, 2013, marked the beginning of National Assisted Living Week 2013. This week happens every year, and assisted living communities across the U.S. have jam-packed calendars filled with fun events and activities for residents. But it’s also a week during which other providers take time to recognize the value the assisted living industry adds to the senior living continuum of care.

This year’s theme is “Homemade Happiness,” so we expect to see lots of hand-crafted memory-making events across the country. It’s about the special connection that develops between residents, senior community staff, and families. The goal of National Assisted Living Week is to recognize those little efforts — the small things, the things that on the surface seem insignificant yet make the biggest difference in the life of a senior each and every day. These are the things that turn a senior living community into a warm, loving and comforting home for hundreds of thousands of seniors across the U.S.

Many assisted living communities plan for this week all year long in order to bring a special, one-of-a-kind experience to each resident they so lovingly serve. The NCAL has put together a guide packed with ideas for activities and celebrations to recognize the efforts of staff and to help residents build more of those precious memories that will last a lifetime. Even if you’re behind the planning curve for National Assisted Living Week, there’s still time to put some fun stuff together, such as:

  • Recognize a “Happiness Hero” each day of the week, awarding a deserving staff member who goes above and beyond to create a home-like atmosphere and bring joy to the faces of your residents. Or, give your residents small ribbons to pass out to the staff that makes their days a little brighter, and fill up a “Heroes Board” overflowing with recognition for good deeds.
  • Make memories with homemade goods. With a “Homemade Happiness” theme, the cooking and craft possibilities are endless. Simple cooking tasks are actually ideal for residents with dementia, because it’s a basic skill that’s often retained even when concrete memories are gone. And, the process can bring feelings of happiness by activating deep memories, much like the effect familiar music has. Have a contest to choose the best jams, cookies, pies, ice cream, or whatever your community decides to make to evoke sweet memories from the past.
  • Go crafty with an art show. Have your residents put together Happiness Boards with photos of friends and family, special events, or even magazine clippings that represent special moments in their lives. Art is a favorite pastime for many seniors, and the sensory experience of painting is pleasant even for those who aren’t artsy by nature. Why not let your residents’ inner creative genius out for a day and have a painting festival, culminating with an art show with prizes for the best homemade masterpieces.
  • Don’t forget the four-legged friends. Homemade Happiness isn’t complete without recognizing every member of the family. Beloved four-legged family members are loyal servants to many seniors, providing companionship, easing stress and anxiety, reduce depression and just simply make live more fun. So how about a pet show? Include your community’s resident canines and felines, invite residents’ families to bring their pets, and invite the local shelter to bring some of their current furry friends in seek of homes. Display photos of your residents’ most beloved furry friends from years passed and share stories. If you want to go big, make it a whole community event and invite the public for a pet extravaganza. You might just secure homes for a few local shelter animals while you’re at it.
  • Homemade applies to wellness, too. So get out and get moving with some fun senior fitness classes to show your residents how they can stay happy and healthy right at home. Have everyone share their best staying-in-shape strategies from their younger years.

These are just a few of the many possibilities for celebrating National Assisted Living Week with this year’s “Homemade Happiness” theme. And we can’t wait to see what you’re all up to this week! Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter as we share some of the best National Assisted Living Week celebrations we find around the web throughout the week. And, if your community is doing something amazing, let us know! We’d love to share your creative events with the world, too.

Post by Angela Stringfellow

Image via AHCA/NCAL

The 5 Best Activities To Do With Our Elderly

This is a guest post submitted by writer Sarah Jennings.

Our elderly loved ones play a special role in our lives since the day we are born. We don’t always have time for to visit them but when we do it is important to make the best of it since it then are with us for a significantly shorter period of time then the rest of our family. As a child I spent most of my summers with my grandma while my parents worked. My grandma always made sure I had a good time when I was a kid and I made it a point to repay her as an adult. Here are five of the best activities you can do with your elder loved ones to get the most out of your time together.

1.      Card Games

Your grandma could be a sweet, innocent looking old lady until you put a deck of cards in her hands. Card games keep the mind sharp and are something anyone can play at any time. Rummy, Golf, Hand and Foot, and Crazy Eights are classics that are always entertaining for both of you. Be careful when she tries to pull out her little mini-purse full of change though, she’s about to get serious. Ask her neighbors how she got all those dimes.

2.      Go Out For A Meal

Chances are your grandparents liked to spoil by overfeeding you when you were young. Take them somewhere they would like to go and treat them. A little change in routine is good for our elderly sometimes, especially if they don’t get around so easily anymore.

3.      Go For A Simple Walk

If you are like me and have a tight schedule sometimes just a walk to catch up on things is the best thing for both you and grandma or grandpa(or mom and dad). Ask them how they are doing, if there’s anything knew. If they are disabled and require a rollator or some other walking aid, keep it simple and stroll through the park as opposed to trails in the woods.

4.      Watch their Favorite Program with them or a Ball Game

Whether it is grandma’s favorite soap opera or grandpa’s favorite team playing, a good way to get in the habit of regular visits is to show up the same time that their favorite show comes on. You can watch the show and catch up or chat as you’re watching the game. Sometimes just being remembered and having your presence is all they want and occasions like this could be more meaningful to them then you think.

5.      Dominos

This one was my personal favorite to do with my grandma. Chicken foot is a great game that takes a couple hours to complete. It’s simplicity allows for excellent bonding during this time and is great to include kids in as it can help them learn to match the dominos and learn organization.

There are many other activities you can do with your elders to warm their hearts but these are the ones I personally recommend. Sometimes brightening their day is what brightens yours. Sometimes when your overwhelmed as an adult it can be good to go visit them, you might just feel like a kid again, if only for a brief period of time.

Sarah Jennings has been taking care of others her whole life. In 2005, she moved her mother into her family home. She uses her personal experience to share with others about caring for the elderly. She currently writes on behalf of Brookdale Assisted Living.