Whether it’s by getting out or staying in, there are many ways to help seniors enrich their lives and, at the same time, enrich your own live as well.
While there are many seniors who live fully independent lives, continuing connection to friends and family is important. For those who are not as independent, those connections can become more difficult to maintain. For those, it becomes more vital, as many are confined to their homes, or to rooms, due to their lack of mobility. This can create frustration, loneliness and fear.
Taking seniors for an outing can certainly lift their spirits, but can sometimes be a bit tricky. A little planning in advance can make the outing more manageable and pleasurable. First, find an activity that is suitable for the person’s physical health. A day trip, a shopping trip, or just a nice stroll are great activities that can give seniors a sense of freedom and enjoyment. A little forethought about accommodations, such as wheelchair, restroom and parking accessibility goes a long way. Also, make sure to carry medications, if required, and an extra coat, sweater or blanket.
A simple walk offers so many benefits, especially to seniors. According to the Mayo Clinic, walking is known to reduce the risk of stroke, heart attack or diabetes. It helps control weight and strengthens the heart. It also lowers “bad” cholesterol and raises “good” cholesterol. It can even help protect against hip fractures. It helps with bones, muscles and joints, overall. It also helps with balance and coordination.
If getting out is not an option, going for a visit certainly helps with the well being of a senior. Engaging in conversation helps to keep their mind active and engaged. Taking a walk down memory lane, which some call reminiscence therapy has proven to be more effective than a pleasant conversation. According to the National Library of Medicine, “chronologically involves the discussion of past activities, events and experiences with another person or group of people, usually with the aid of tangible prompts such as photographs, household and other familiar items from the past, music and archive sound recordings. Typically, seniors are guided to remember chronologically, through their life experiences. Friends and family members often engage with their loved ones through this process. “There is some evidence to suggest it is effective in improving mood in older people without dementia. Its effects on mood, cognition and well-being in dementia are less well understood. care-givers.”
Reminiscing is not the same as remembering something from the past. To ask a senior that is having memory issues to remember something could be frustrating for them, as they may feel pressured into remembering something they cannot. Reminiscing, the act of recalling a fond or nostalgic moment in the past, can be very comforting. By asking direct questions, such as “where were you born” could cause confusion and strife. By gazing through old pictures, a person might respond when memories associated with the pictures come to mind. Music from the past, or certain items can also initiate those pleasant memories. This helps seniors connect to their past and recall life’s meaning. It also helps them reflect on past achievements and reaffirm their importance.
So, whether you take your senior friend or relative outside, or for a stroll in their mind’s eye, it can be most beneficial to both you and your senior.

Contributing Writer