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Unexpected Gift On Their Anniversary The holidays can be joyful or feel like a pressure cooker. We look forward to seeing family and friends, but sometimes fret over finding the money to buy gifts. For seniors, this pressure can be especially acute as they live on fixed incomes and find it more difficult to go shopping. Yet there is a way to increase their happiness and find gifts for friends and family, and it involves activities that support fine motor skills, cognition and socialization. Let’s make some gifts! The level of interest in this project will vary widely by gender, age and cognition. Certainly not everyone is interested in crafts. For the purposes of this discussion, let’s assume that the senior in your care does want to take gifts with them to a holiday gathering and that he or she can be engaged in activities at home. Making gifts is a great activity leading up to the holidays and is one that can be done in a day, or over the course of a few weeks, depending on your senior’s specific needs and desires. Making memory gifts:
  • Simple: Look through photo albums with your senior loved one. Choose a photo that he or she loves and that is part of a larger story. Help your loved one to recall and write that story in his or her own handwriting, if possible. Print the photo and the story and insert it into a nice envelope, one for each person who should receive a gift. It doesn’t matter that they are all the same. It matters that each person is receiving a piece of the senior’s life.
  • Hand crafted: If seniors love crafts, then they can produce a small photo album as a gift to each person. Fold construction paper in half and then half again to form a small booklet. Choose four photos from a photo album that tell the story of a day, a moment, or a trip. Copy the photos and paste them onto the folded paper in sequence, one to a page. Have the senior write out brief descriptions of the photos. Make copies of the handwritten story and then paste it as captions under each photo. Tie a ribbon around the “album” and hand them out as gifts.
  • Fine motor skill gifts: Believe it or not, making handmade ornaments can incorporate fine motor skills and exercise. Take a walk to collect tiny pine cones, berries, pine needles, and dried flowers. Purchase clear ornaments at the dollar store or other inexpensive retail outlet. Look for craft letters, beads and other tiny decorative items. Then sit with your senior and insert these tiny collectibles into the top of the clear ornament. Put the top back on the ornament and you have now made personalized gifts!
  • A gift of self: Creative thinking is good for cognition, and it can also produce great gifts. If your senior is not well suited to any of the activities above, it’s time to create gift certificates for the family. What would the senior like to give of him or herself? As they think, you can create “certificates” on pieces of paper that will fit into a business size envelope. Be as creative as you like with the writing and design; the point of the exercise is for the senior to realize that he or she is important to others and does have something to give that has meaning. Here are some examples. “This certificate is for…”
  • An afternoon of traveling through photo albums and storytelling.
  • An hour on the front porch with lemonade and cookies.
  • A morning reading the comics and watching cartoons together.
  • Dinner at my place
  • Going to the 4th of July parade together and pizza on me!
You get the idea. Whatever the senior can do and likes to do will be meaningful to those who love him or her. Home Care Assistance caregivers can spend time with your senior and organize these activities with them. In fact, each of our caregivers is trained in the Home Care Assistance Cognitive Therapeutics Method™, a scientifically developed program that uses activities to mentally stimulate seniors. When seniors participate in Cognitive Therapeutics Method™ activities, they feel like they are engaging in hobbies or playing games, but they are actually engaging in activities of varying levels of difficulty designed to challenge them and improve their quality of life. Not only can Home Care Assistance clients enjoy these activities through our trained caregivers, but individuals who do not need home care services can also participate in the Cognitive Therapeutics Method by working with our Cognitive Interventionists. The holidays offer a perfect joining of all these things - gift giving, celebrating family, and stimulating the mind. Home Care Assistance is here to help you ensure that the holidays are joyful, free of pressure and beneficial for the loved one in your care.
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