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5 novel things we can do with our elderly to grow and flower our relationship with them

Spending time with our elderly doesn’t need to be an arduous, repetitive task that consists of just family nights, an hour or two at the local senior home or trips to the GP for regular check-ups. While these are part and parcel of our duty to our elders, there is so much more we can do with our loved ones that can create a positive impact on them and their mental wellbeing.

Here are Inspirited Mind’s top 5 novel things we can do with our elderly to grow and flower our relationship with them:

  1. Let Creativity Flow

Whether your older adult is or isn’t very mobile, you can take a day out to tap into their creative mindset. The thing about being creative is that the sky is literally the limit.

Draw or sketch. Paint, sculpt or colour – by the way, adult colouring is therapeutic and can really help shine some perspective on things. Concoct a new recipe (or modify an old family recipe). Writing a story or poem. Design greeting cards or paper-decorations. Organize family photo albums; and reminisce about the good old days. Plant some exotic flowers. Make a home-movie, or a video-collage of digital photos. Create some fancy home-made products; like soaps, bath-bombs or room fresheners.

Research has shown creativity to have profound effects on mental well being, emotional regulation and even physical conditions.

  1. Paint the Town Turquoise

Being confined to your home or neighbourhood every-day can take its toll on your memory and sense of adventure. So, plan a trip to a local attraction, that hole-in-the-wall restaurant you haven’t visited in a while, or that beautiful place two-towns over that you’ve only heard of in passing. You can even just pop over to the local farm or fruit garden and pick out some cherries or apples, and enjoy the lush greenery.

Whatever it is, and wherever you go – make it memorable.

We know it can feel different now with an elderly loved one, since they may be set in their ways or not as mobile as they used to, but this is not a good excuse. So take the time and energy to plan a fun, considerate and wholesome trip. Remember, a little effort on your part can go a long way in their eyes.

  1. The Touch of a Button

With vast technological advancements, it’s difficult for the elderly to keep track of the multitude of changes happening by the minute. You can spend time teaching them the tricks of the trade to keep them engaged and give them a good pastime for when you’re not there.

Some handy things to help them out with can include how to use:

–      Search engines such as Google
–      Communication websites and apps, like Facetime, Skype and WhatsApp
–      Streaming services like YouTube and Apple Podcasts
–      Online games like Scrabble or Checkers
–      Short online educational courses and tutorials
–      Senior employment and volunteering websites
–      Selling things online – the best way to get rid of unused clutter and earn some cash while doing it

In this way, they are not over-reliant on you but you can find virtual common ground and still stay in touch.

  1. Exclusive Family Competition

It’s always exciting to switch things up – this can apply for family and friends too. Take some time out every so often to organize a unique competition/get-together, which can be anything! Some great ideas, besides the common treasure hunt, include having a family fashion show, quizzes, house redecoration presentation or grow-a-garden contest!

Not only will this give you an opportunity to spend more time with your older adults, but you can also unwind from work or daily life – which is beneficial for your mental health too!

  1. Out-of-the-Box Exercises

Brain exercises are way too underrated now-a-days, what with calculators and other nifty apps waiting to do the work for us. Well, there is still something to be said for old-fashioned tasks for the mind to boost your brain functions:

–      Games like Sudoku and Scrabble can really help exercise your working memory and logical skills
–      Counting clouds or adding-up the numbers in car-plates are good ways to continuously hone your numerical and attention skills
–      Participating in trivia games on numerous random topics can increase your knowledge on different areas and ensure you have a great time too
–      Jigsaw puzzles and crosswords are especially great to hone your abstract thinking and long-term memory
–      Reading is such an immersive task that it seamlessly works on your creativity, knowledge span, reasoning, social and cognitive skills

Using these few but effective ideas and going the extra mile every now and then can water any relationship and work wonders on the mental psyche. You never know what can leave a mark in the other person’s mind.

Is there something you did with your elderly loved one that’s not on our list? Share it in the comments below!

Sarah Gulamhusein

Sarah is a Master’s graduate in Psychology, having completed an undergraduate degree in Medical Biochemistry. She is passionate about mental health and has attained a good knowledge of mental illnesses from both a scientific and psychological perspective. From her early years, she has been a keen writer and has consistently used her words to raise awareness and battle the stigma of mental health in society, highlight the challenges faced by Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities within the UK – especially for an organisation called 1000women. She hopes to use her skills and motivation to inspire others, promote co-existence and help others.

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