March 18th, 2011 at 4:28 am
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Creating meaningful visits in the fall

by Kathryn Kilpatrick, M.A. CCC/SLP

Knowing a person’s story and previous interests can go a long way in creating some enjoyable activities. Knowing how to modify them if there are some changes in a person’s ability will sometimes be necessary. There is something to be said for having those who care most about you going the extra mile to surround you with things you previously enjoyed.

One daughter grew up with Halloween being a big event. They all looked forward to carving pumpkins, decorating not only the inside but the outside of the house. Her mom even made the costumes for all 4 of the kids. Although the daughter has a scaled-down version of her mom’s celebrations, she knows how much her parents enjoy being included in the process. Even though her dad is in a wheelchair, she picks a day when the weather is not an issue and they go shopping for Halloween candy then she takes him to the mall to see some of the Halloween displays. She has her parents come over when the kids go trick-or-treating and, if the weather is decent, they all sit on the porch and hand out the candy. If there is a parade at school, the grandparents are usually there.

My neighbor’s mother used to make the best apple pies and now her mom has some trouble handling the utensils and it is recommended that she not use the stove. Her granddaughter takes her to a local farmer’s market where they sell apples and are decorated for the fall season. After picking out what they need, they go back to the granddaughter’s home and start baking pies, both apple and pumpkin. The grandmother offers her input and enjoys still being part of the experience as well as having a pie to take home and enjoy.

One grandfather used to be a graphic designer and he loved it when the younger children in the neighborhood would come over for a pumpkin decorating contest. He has some young grandchildren now and they participate in decorating the pumpkins with funny faces until they get a little older and are able to do the carving. Just driving to see the fall foliage and stopping for cider can be a treat for someone who is homebound or no longer able to drive. I fondly remember when my mother-in-law came to visit and she patiently cracked all the hickory nuts my son would pick in our yard. I would use the small amount that came from lots of nuts to put in some cookies we would make the next day.

There are often special events and parades to honor veterans that might be an appropriate activity. One family also has some war movies from the 1950’s that their grandfather enjoys watching. They make an evening of it, cooking his favorite meal and listening to some of the stories he loves to tell over and over about when he was in the war. His memory isn’t what it used to be but occasionally he comes up with something new.

It is fun to see what little modifications we can make to include the older adult. Everyone has a busy schedule but watching the appreciation on the face of an older adult when they are includedin activities can warm your heart. For additional information, refer to Creating Time Well Spent: Enhancing Your Visits with an Older Adult

“A few days ago I walked along the edge of the lake and was treated to the crunch and rustle of leaves with each step I made. The acoustics of this season are different and all sounds, no matter how hushed, are as crisp as autumn air.” Eric Sloane

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