Resources for Family Caregivers of Older Adults
Snowbound Days: Use Them to Make New Memories with Senior Loved Ones

Snowbound Days: Use Them to Make New Memories with Senior Loved Ones

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As I sit here by the window looking out at the beautiful snow that has fallen here on our house in the South where this much snow is a bit unusual, I ponder what to do.

I am beginning to feel a bit snow bound as the roads here are too treacherous to do even the most (usually very) important tasks (but not really) such as mailing cards or picking up supplies.

If you are like me, your mind is wandering to all the little tasks that we think about doing ‘if I only got the time’.

Well, it looks like I will have plenty of time for at least the next few days.

Some Much Needed Tasks You Can Do With Your Senior

Even if your senior loved one has dementia they’re likely able to help you do some piece of these tasks, at least for a short period of time. You may need to constantly talk about what you are doing, how to do it or even do hand over hand work during the task.

Clean out the linen closet  

Over time we tend to store or just stick away things in the linen closet that we are not currently using and may never use again because it no longer matches the décor. There may be heirloom items in there that were handmade with love by a great grandmother or other family member that you treasure. Go through each shelf and nook to see if there are some items that are no longer needed or desired such as old towels or blankets.

There are many places that would cherish these items such as animal rescue, no-kill shelters or the homeless shelter near you. If you have items that you just don’t want any more, you can donate them to area collection sites or even find a consignment shop and make a little spending money. You may even uncover some precious items you forgot were there or someone else ‘hid’ there that you will find useful.

If there are special treasures in the linen closet such as quilts, needlework or lace, now is a good time to preserve those items and keep them from decaying or becoming moth-eaten. Your senior can help by identifying items, telling stories of aunt so and so who made that pillow case or by neatly folding the stacks of washcloths. You can do this together for any closet in your house such as the coat closet and share old coats with others or upstairs closets, etc. Any place in your senior’s home that needs attention and can provide an opportunity to work together and share the day.

Make a family recipe or pot of soup and invite family, friends or the next door neighbor over for a meal

This is a great way to involve your senior. Start by talking about recipes, which meal was a family favorite, who made it and go through the lovingly handwritten recipes. I have pages written in my grandmother’s hand that I will treasure, goodies like pickles and relish everyone loves.

Your senior can help with the ingredients by collecting, washing, cutting, stirring, tasting and serving your guests. She or he may enjoy setting the table with newly found place mats or tablecloth from the linen closet that were used when you were a child. Use the good china-why not? Today is a special occasion. You might share the soup pot with an older neighbor who can’t get out in the snow either and brighten their day!

Clean out the garage!  

I may be a special case, but over the warmer months everything seems to get deposited in my garage to the point that I can’t walk beside my car and may consider keeping it outside (oh no!). Now is a good time to put away all the tools, nails, bug spray, paint, hoses, garden tools, and flower pots that have accumulated (yes, all these things are currently in my way!).

Your senior can help by holding things, sweeping, telling you stories about some of the items such as “I used to grow carrots and I used this trowel” or just being by your side. Put on some music that your senior loves and enjoy the moment.

Put the photos into an album  

Oh my, one of my famous I will do someday projects. I have boxes of pictures dating back from when my grown children were born. Your senior can help you with the photos, talk about where you were, who is in the photo, what funny clothes you were wearing or weird hairdos. If you don’t get many photos in the album that day, it is OK.

The quality time you spend is more than worth it. You may want to take the opportunity to go through your senior’s photo album with their parents and grandparents, cousins and friends to jog their recollections and hear their reminiscences.

Throw some birdseed in the yard  

Throw down some seed, bread crusts or breadcrumbs where you can see them and then sit with your senior and look out the window even for fifteen minute blocks of time. You may need to involve them in cleaning the window, wiping the blinds or windowsill so that you can get the best view. Make a cup of hot chocolate, your favorite tea or hot spiced apple cider to share together while you bird watch.

Talk about the different birds or wildlife that comes up to eat the goodies. Talk about growing up and what activities you enjoyed outdoors. If you have a picture book with birds, look through it to see if you can find the visitors to your yard.

There are many indoor projects that usually take a backseat when we are busy with the day to day activities that we think are so important in the moment.

These jobs don’t have to be finished today or even this week. Take a little chunk at a time. Do it together with your senior. Let them see their old possessions and help you decide where they belong.

The snow and ice can seem like such a bother but I think that it may offer us a quiet time to reflect on other things like family, friends and the seniors we love.

I better get going, I have a garage to clean!

One Response to Snowbound Days: Use Them to Make New Memories with Senior Loved Ones

  1. Yes senior care is definitely a huge issue that needs innovative solutions. One of the most exciting that I’ve seen is GeriJoy. that takes the form of a lovable and intelligent talking pet inside an Android tablet. It provides the emotional benefits of virtual pet therapy, and it also serves as an avatar for GeriJoy’s staff, who provide live conversational responses. Feef free to check it out. Here is the link: http://www.gerijoy.com/

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