activities for seniors

August 7, 2014

Successful aging in the home should go further than simply meeting basic care needs. It should allow an aging loved one to remain as joyful and active as possible so his or her life is honored and quality experiences are still attainable. Using spirit-centered care is a great way to offer that to a loved one. What is spirit-centered care? Beyond basic care, it treats each person as an individual by centering around his or her life story. The sole focus is enhancing the person’s life in personal ways. For example, matching an in-home caregiver from a similar lifestyle perspective provides instant conversation topics and a sense of comfort. The effects?

  • Achieve positive emotional states
  • Boost self-confidence and sense of independence
  • Renew sense of purpose and meaning to life
  • Acute recovery of long lost memories (even if temporary)
  • Create a sense of wellbeing for people who suffer from chronic illness
  • Regain physical abilities
  • Alleviate boredom and lack of motivation

First Step Toward Spirit-Centered Care: Assessment Spirit-centered care begins with discovering as much about the care recipient’s preferences, dislikes, dreams, hobbies and history as possible. In the case of a home care agency, this involves a “getting to know you” interview with the care recipient and/or family members. Questions may be asked such as, “If you had 15-30 minutes, what would you like to do?” Or, “Is it meaningful for you to work in the yard or watch the sunset or polish silver and clean the house?” Here are some other specific topics that may be covered during an assessment:

  • Daily rituals
  • Beauty routines
  • Relaxation preferences
  • Typical daily schedule
  • Early life as a teenager, getting married, having kids
  • What the person liked to do growing up, as a younger adult, and now

Step Two Toward Spirit-Centered Care: Incorporate Too often, daily living activities such as eating and bathing are mundane and may turn into battles. Turning these activities into events changes the perception in a positive way for a senior. Take for example the evening bathing routine. Turning it into a spa experience for the senior with all the trimmings including candles, music or aromatherapy transforms it into an enjoyable and relaxing event. Another area perfect for incorporating spirit-centered care is around food. Food, and the act of cooking, has powerful meaning to older adults. Food defines culture, family history and traditions and is also connected with feelings of love, pleasure, family and celebrations. Shopping together at a leisurely pace in a grocery store can turn into a treasured outing. In addition to cooking with a caregiver, seniors may enjoy walking a far-away family member through making a favorite dish over the phone – consider using speaker phone or Skype. Two more powerful ways to care for a person’s spirit are through music and art:

  • Drawing, watercolors and oil painting are great for mental stimulation and fine motor skills.
  • Nurses report that seniors have less anxiety and apathy after art museum visits.
  • Music is valuable for pain reduction, coping with stress and in stimulating the immune system (Music Making and Wellness Project 1998).
  • Music can relieve anxiety, agitation, depression and loneliness. (CoroHealth Music First 2010 study showed agitation and depression dropped by up to 54%.)

Art and music are particularly helpful for persons with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease:

  • Art gives persons with Alzheimer’s an opportunity to express themselves and communicate even after some of their standard communications abilities have gone.
  • Art therapy can help people with dementia regain some lost muscle function and coordination because it actively engages both hemispheres of the brain.
  • Music from their youth can trigger forgotten memories and trigger awakening responses. (The effect is part memory activation, part stress relief and part cognitive activity.)

There are countless ways to incorporate spirit-centered care into the home care experience. Simply take into account a person’s individual interests and incorporate them in a thoughtful way into the daily routine. The rewards of honoring and preserving the dignity of your loved one through these activities will be tremendous. For more information on spirit-centered caregiving, contact Continuum. Continuum’s five-personal care team provides oversight that encompasses the whole person, including the mind and spirit, for an unparalleled care experience that not only comforts but uplifts. Contact us at 314.863.9912 for a personal in-home care assessment.

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