Family Day is fast approaching here in Ontario, a day set aside for families to (hopefully) take the day off and spend some quality time together. But this year, when you make plans for February 18th, don’t neglect that special senior in your life. Whether it’s a parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, or simply an old family friend, embracing their presence in your February 18th plans will not only brighten their day, but will also honour the spirit of Family Day.

Life can sometimes be lonely for older adults and seniors, but it is completely understandable that family members’ busy schedules cannot always accommodate lengthy visitations. If your loved one would benefit from in-home care, contact Integracare – we offer a wide variety of services provided by compassionate, quality health care professionals. Hiring home health care services for your loved ones is not always an easy conversation, we understand, and if you have any questions, please contact us.

As for Family Day, if you have the time to spend with your senior loved one this year, here are a few fun, engaging and helpful activities that are also geared toward bringing you, and your whole family, closer together.

Cook Together

Wisdom is often passed down in the kitchen. There is a good reason for the saying, “nothing beats your mom’s/dad’s cooking” – food is one of the most potent ways culture gets passed down generationally, and it can also be a major bonding experience. Cooking with your senior loved one is a great way for them to reclaim an educational role, and a great way for you to learn something new.

Not only that, but cooking together can be greatly beneficial for them. Not all seniors have the energy, capability or inclination to cook for themselves all the time. Cook a large dish so that there are leftovers to freeze. It will provide healthy meals for days or even weeks to come.

Play Board Games

Yes, the classic family pastime – the good old board game. In addition to being an engaging pastime, board games stimulate mental exercise. Particularly for those with Dementia or Alzheimer’s, games can be an effective mental stimulant, memory exercise and hand-eye coordination practice. The Alzheimer’s Society lists a number of games that are helpful and relatively straightforward to navigate, including Snakes and Ladders, and Word Search Puzzles.

Take a Scenic Walk

Daily physical activity is important for anyone, and that’s certainly true for seniors. Sometimes, however, seniors might be wary of going out walking alone, for fear they might fall. Taking a scenic walk with your senior loved one this year is a fantastic way of getting them active, out of the house and smelling the fresh air. It is February, mind you, and the sidewalks can be icy and slippery, so it is best to stick to parks and clear paths. If the weather is uncooperative, then consider a walk in a nearby shopping mall.

Go to a Movie

For a more relaxed time together, one that nevertheless gets you and your senior loved one out of the house, consider going to see a movie. Tiff Lightbox in downtown Toronto offers showings for a number of older movies, often classics – this Family Day they are showing Holiday with Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn.

Run Errands

Why not make your time together handy and accommodating. If your senior loved one lacks the ability to drive, it might be difficult for them to run certain errands, like grocery shopping, prescription refilling, mailing letters or going to the bank.

It can be hard for some older adults to ask favours of their loved ones, so volunteering your time to these efforts can be a major help. Volunteering to run errands together saves them from having to ask and the car ride between errands can be the perfect time to fit in some family conversation.

Plan a Future Family Event

Is there a birthday party on the horizon? A wedding? A Bar Mitzvah? A reunion? Include your senior loved one in the planning. Everyone likes to feel useful, to feel like they are part of the creative process, and seniors are certainly no different. Plus, it gives them a date to look forward to and get excited about.

Scrapbooking

As planning a family event helps cast your sights on the future, scrapbooking is a wonderful way to reminisce about the past. A lot of people find the act of scrapbooking therapeutic, perhaps because it allows them to process and memorialize the past, choosing the best parts and putting them together in a physical, readable object. Going through memories, both shared and separate, can be a powerful bonding experience as well. You might hear stories you never heard, or share in stories you’ve heard a hundred times.

Get Active

As mentioned, daily physical activity is key to health in old age, as it strengthens muscles and bones, improves stability, and helps with mental acuity and confidence. The possibilities are wide here: do some yoga or tai chi, play a round of golf, or go for a swim, to name just a few ideas.

If you feel your loved one would benefit from professional help here, contact Integracare about in-home physiotherapy. Whether for rehabilitation or pain management, our expert physiotherapists always provide compassionate, specialized assistance. To read more about our philosophy you can visit our ‘About Us’ page at the link provided.

Why Not Try a Video Game?

According to a popular study, some 3D platform video games may improve cognitive functions in seniors. That’s the “constructive” reason to play video games – the real reason is because it’s a fun way to involve the whole family, getting each generation excited. Games like Wii Sports are also a great way to get in some hand-eye coordination practice, as well as bit of light exercise. It might take some brief explanation on how the controls work, but there’s a great chance, after an hour or so, your senior loved one will be just as giddy as the kids in the room.

Bring the Whole Family

If it is possible, and if schedules permit, bring the whole family. If you have kids, a spouse, pets, siblings, etc., bring everyone to join you in the family time. Bringing kids, especially, helps form cross-generational bonds, which are as meaningful and valuable to the children as they are to your senior loved one.

If you live in a separate part of the world from your senior loved one, you can still make an effort to be present. If they have Skype set up, that is ideal – you can talk with them face-to-face, without them having to leave their chair. Otherwise, a phone conversation can be just as meaningful.

Schedules can be hectic, and life can move awfully quickly, especially here in Toronto and Mississauga. If you are lucky enough to have the day off this coming Family Day, February 18th, consider spending it with your senior loved one. Any of these ten ideas would make for a wonderful day spent with family.

And if you feel your loved one needs a Personal Support Worker or other Health Care Professional at other times in the calendar year, please do not hesitate to chat with us about a plan.