Is your aging parent struggling with settling in at their new assisted living center? Major transitions like this can bring about feelings of stress, anxiety, sadness, and depression, especially if a chronic illness or acute injury has contributed to the move.
If you’re looking for fun, easy ways to bring a smile to their face, try these 6 bright ideas:
A little pampering can go a long way when it comes to helping your loved one feel relaxed and happy in their new home. Even if they struggle with hygiene or being touched, some of these ideas may be appealing to them:
- Have them choose a polish color and then paint their nails for them
- Give them a foot massage with lotion
- Upgrade their shower with a comfortable bathing chair and some new sweet-smelling body wash
- Diffuse relaxing aromatherapy scents in their room like lavender, sandalwood, and bergamot
- Schedule a trip to the beauty parlor or barbershop to get them a fresh new haircut
Bring Nature Inside
A growing body of research is proving how impactful even the smallest exposure to nature can be. If your loved one has difficulty getting outside for walks, bring nature inside to them. Flowers displayed in a vase, house plants, even a small windowsill herb garden can add a positive touch of green to what may feel like a cramped or sterile room.
The best plants for seniors should be easy to care for; aloe vera is a good choice, for example, because it doesn’t require frequent watering. Note: If your loved one lives with a late-stage form of dementia, you may want to be even pickier about where you place the plant in case they have a tendency to try and pick the leaves or eat them.
Decorate Their Space
If you haven’t already, decorate your parent’s new space so that it closely resembles their old home. Keep in mind to avoid adding clutter or trip hazards to the area, but take care in adding old keepsakes, family photos, and decor that will bring up good memories and help them feel more settled.
If your older adult feels inhibited by mobility issues that require the use of a walker, cane, or wheelchair, offer to decorate their mobility aid with them too. Things as simple as a tassel, a paint job, stickers, or even a snazzy wheelchair bag can help put a little pep in their movements.
Art can serve a dually therapeutic role in that it can be calming and beautiful to look at as well as give your aging loved one a sense of purpose, talent, and confidence. Plus, art is a great way to get their creative juices flowing.
Everything from adult coloring to knitting, collaging, painting, crocheting, even sculpting with clay or play-doh can do wonders to stimulate an older adult’s mind and produce feelings of positivity. Even better, have them create something that can decorate their new room or which they can give to a friend, neighbor, grandkid, etc.
Music and Movies
Truly brighten your loved one’s day with a blast from the past. Find songs they loved when they were younger and make a playlist they can listen to on a CD or your phone or laptop. Check the library for classic movies too and set up a movie date with your older adult that will have them beaming and feeling nostalgic.
Research has shown that even with some memory loss, older adults will often retain long-term “musical memories” that can be uniquely stimulated by music so listen, play, dance, and sing along!
Want to really surprise your loved one? Set up a special video chat with an old friend or relative, like a grandkid, they haven’t seen in a while. Free video chat services like Skype, Facetime, or Google Duo can be installed and easily used over wifi on your mobile device or computer.
Video chatting is an especially great way for seniors with hearing loss to make calls as they can see the person they are speaking with and use lip reading and body movements to aid their hearing.
Even seemingly small actions like reciting a poem they loved or playing them an old home movie can have a powerful effect on your loved one living in an assisted living facility. When it comes to lifting their spirits and boosting their mood, don’t forget to involve other family members, caregivers, and friends too!