January 31st, 2011 at 3:07 am
Bookmark and Share

Creating time well spent by modifying some activities of interest

by Kathryn Kilpatrick, M.A. CCC/SLP

Think of the special memories you have sharing time with the people in your life. Sometimes it can be an event that was planned but often it was just an unexpected moment. Many families make it a point of visiting the older adults in their lives on a regular basis but can struggle with doing something different especially when there are changes. When the older adult has more difficulty hearing, seeing or getting around, it seems like many of the things that were of interest no longer have the same appeal. Add to that some depression or memory loss and finding ways to enhance the visit time together can sometime become a challenge.

When these changes occur slowly over a period of a few years, many families may notice that more of the activities take place around friends or family members instead of including the older adults. One of the comments I hear frequently from my patients is that families do not come around as much anymore except to do some of the essentials for their care. They miss spending quality time together. Family members often are at a loss on how to stay connected which may contribute to the shorter visits. Creating Time Well Spent offers some practical suggestions. It starts with knowing a person’s story as well as previous and current interests and how to modify any activities if necessary.

Recently the daughter of one of my patients told me that her dad no longer seemed interested in reading or watching television. Since he needed to use a walker, gardening was not something he could do safely any more. Since she provided me with some of his previous interests, I started to ask more questions to determine if there were ways we could build on his strengths to include things he might still care about.

First of all, I learned that he read the newspaper every day. Actually he spent time with the paper because it was his lifetime ritual but he had trouble with the smaller print. He primarily looked at the headlines and tried reading the sports pages with a magnifying glass but would get too frustrated.

Suggestions were offered to his family which included taking some articles of interest and making larger print copies. One of the sons who lived out of town signed up for that and put a few in the mail once a week. When they talked every Sunday it helped to expand their conversations and provided the son with some other ideas. He found some additional information of interest to his dad on the internet and sent him printed copies which he really appreciated. Sometimes his neighbor would visit and read an article of interest to both of them. They would discuss it, offering both of them a way to keep their minds engaged in more than just social chit chat. His memory problems made it harder for him to read books so the family now brings him short stories of interest in larger print or someone will read shorter stories when visiting. They have the grandchildren now involved in finding things to read to him.

There are usually ways to modify activities that once appealed to an older adult. Time is usually an issue but it starts with a willingness of another person to provide some assistance. What a gift to be able to walk the journey with a loved one, learning how to meet them where they are.

“You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.” Kahlil Gibran

Posted in Caregiving, Caring At Home, Support | No Comments »

Leave a Reply