Caregivers share ways they create special moments.
Making time to step away from all the caregiving tasks and spend quality time with our aging loved ones is a universal problem. I first wrote about this in March with the post: Today I am her daughter and not her caregiver.
Since then I have been gathering suggestions from readers on how to make time to be with loved ones that has nothing to do with caregiving. The ideas and memories are as different as the families, but all bring a smile to my face.
When the court placed my mom in a center for dementia patients the judge allowed me to select where she would be placed. I set her up between Charlie Browns and A&P for food shopping. I‘d visit her daily and ask if she’d please buy me some ice cream. We’d cross the lawn to Charlie Browns and “Sundae” up at two in the afternoon. (Quiet time). I‘d also ask her if she’d take me to buy bananas at the A&P . We’d hold hands and cross the street to shop for a few things “I” would like to have. Fun times and it always worked.
Saturday or Sunday brunch.
Cooking together… so many stories come from learning family recipes… and the end result is sharing and eating delicious meals and snacks! Who knew Great Aunt Anna was the queen of depressions meals?? I did because Mom told me while she directed me to make a couple of her specialties. And I’m proud to say I’ve continued the tradition with my mother-in-law (Pennsylvania Dutch potato filling – yum!) and my children, who are catching up to my recipe repertoire quickly!
I used to take my mother to my house for a change of scenery. My kids and grandchildren used to all come over and she loved it. Also, she loved my cooking so I would cook for her for the week and bring it over and just sit with her. No chores just be in the moment!!
I had everyone chip in and we bought my mother a slot machine for her 95th birthday. I call it “slot therapy” she loves it and I put it in a part of the house where she has to walk farther to get there. It is great to hear the pinging of the bells on the quarter machine. I highly recommend it.
Take time by going to favorite restaurant each week for lunch or dinner. Spend time watching favorite TV shows or movies each week and take to a show each season.
Take my mom out on the weekends for shopping and lunch. Sometimes we go to our Pennsylvania home to spend the weekend.
We have been moving Andy’s mom up to NH. It’s been quite an ordeal. Cleaning out their house has been a nightmare. We have been working on it for over a year and we are still not done! In addition the move was a very emotional as one would expect since she has lived in the same place for over 60 years! I feel as though the only thing we have been doing is caregiving and nothing else. There has been no time for anything else but getting her affairs in order. As she settles in up here we hope to be able to spend more time together doing some “fun” things. She does not have a lot of outside interests but we are trying to get her to try some new things that involves being with other people. I think it’s important to do things that don’t involve caregiving – take them to a movie or a local play. Anything that involves getting them out of the house if at all possible. Spending quality time together is what they want… they also need to feel wanted and needed and they need to know you enjoy spending time with them. That’s often hard when we are all pressed for time but if we commit to it like nothing else we can make the time. Take them out for lunch or if they are housebound make a meal for them and bring it over and eat together. Play board games with them if they are able or watch a movie together on Netflix. Find/make time for something enjoyable…
My father is gone for 17 years now. Mom and I talk on the phone 1-3 times/week, since she lives far away. I let her vent her frustrations about getting older, and then refocus her attention on her grandchild. Have them chat on the phone or Skype. Get her to tell me stores I have never heard before about her life. Bring a problem to her I don’t know how to solve and have her advise me. Tell her something that has made my happy that day/week etc. Make a point of doing this over coffee or meal on her porch when I am there in person. Share with her things she did with me when I was young that I now do with her grandchild. We talk about her cats, my cats and other pets – her “grandpets”, she calls them. She has a lot of trouble walking, so I drive her someplace inspiring – like the top of a high hill that overlooks her city to watch the sun rise or set. Do crafts with her and her grandchild. Share samples of grandchild’s artistic endeavors with her. For example get her on the phone when her granddaughter is playing the cello or singing, or laughing so she can be there in the middle of it all by phone when we cannot be together physically. Have use each fill out an “All About Me’ book and switch when done so we can read about each other’s inner lives. Stuff like this….
Let’s keep this going. Share with me how you are “in the moment” and the fun things you do with your aging loved one as a comment and I will continue to compile ideas and share them.
Disclaimer: The material in this blog is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to replace, nor does it replace, consulting with a physician, lawyer, accountant, financial planner or other qualified professional.
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