It is quite common to find that visiting with your parent or loved one becomes much more difficult as they age. Whether it is due to hearing or vision difficulties, cognitive decline, chronic pain, or other aging challenges, your loved one might have trouble connecting with you during conversations as they once did.
This is frustrating and sad for many family members. If you find this is happening to you, we suggest letting go of the expectations you may have based on the visits you enjoyed with your aging loved one years ago. Instead, focus on sharing experiences with one another that create memories you will hold for years to come.
The summer season is a wonderful time to try out sharing experiences and watching how it transforms your time together. Each of these ideas can be adjusted to meet your loved one’s needs, including any cognitive decline challenges.
Turn this activity into a multi-step event that you do together over the course of a full day or week. First, sift through your loved one’s favorite recipes to reminisce as you find the perfect cobbler recipe. Then, make a quick list of things you’ll need to purchase at the store. If possible, skip the store altogether and choose to support local farmers at your town’s Farmer’s Market instead. Then, it’s time to chop and mix together at home. Don’t forget to turn on music while you are in the kitchen baking. (Dancing around the kitchen while the cobbler bakes is optional, but a lot of fun.)
Create a Bouquet
You don’t have to be a professional to create a bouquet together. In fact, you don’t even have to be a gardener. You can hit the local Farmer’s Market or grocery store to pick up a few bundles of colorful and lovely flowers before heading home to snip them and arrange them in a vase or mason jar. This activity is very sensory, which means it can have a calming effect for those living with cognitive decline.
Paint a Garden Stone
Whether you are painting a stone to put in your garden, your loved one’s garden, or just to use as a door-stop, it is time well spent together. Head to the home improvement store together to pick up an inexpensive paver and then to the craft store to look for paint and a setting spray. Then, head home to plan your design and paint it into reality. Remember, the point of this activity isn’t to have a professionally painted garden stone; it’s about the experience you are creating together.
Have a Spa Day
It’s hot outside in the summer, which means you might need to have fun ideas to do indoors, in the cool air conditioning. Try a spa day where you try out a new facial mask (don’t forget the cucumber eyes), hand massage, and pedicure. Listen to relaxing music and enjoy spa water, which is just iced water with slices of citrus inside.
Create a Summer Journal
Try this idea, which includes keeping a summer journal all season long where your loved one can write about who visited, what they did, and even include photos of the fun. This is an especially wonderful activity for your kids to do with your aging parent. They can decorate a blank journal together and then write or draw in it together during every visit. If they can’t figure out what to write about that day, try giving them some summer reminiscing questions or conversation starters to get their creativity going.
Looking for even more ideas to create meaningful moments with your aging loved one? We’ve compiled our favorites in our newest eBook, Summer of Connection. Download it today for free and get started!