With the demands of work and raising children, family members sometimes become disconnected from grandparents and other older family members, which is why this May, Older Americans Month, is the perfect time to rekindle these relationships.
“In my position as a registered nurse with a home care agency, I often see older adults, especially those who live alone, becoming disengaged from their family members,” said Renata Gelman, RN, BSN, Clinical Manager at Partners in Care, the leading not-for-profit home health care agency in the New York City area. “At Partners in Care we train our aides to pay particular attention to helping seniors socialize and stay engaged, so we understand how sometimes it can be hard for families to know how to stay involved with aging family members. They may feel guilty, and the situation can become overwhelming, but now is a good time to put your concerns aside and make a first step toward reconnecting.”
The theme of this year’s Older Americans Month is “Never too Old to Play!” and Gelman points out that play can take many forms, depending on the older individual’s health and activity level. She offers the following suggestions to incorporate play into your family visit this month:
- Get outside and enjoy the spring air. A family stroll in a park, even for someone who is confined to a wheelchair, can be invigorating. Enjoy the blossoming flowers, snap some family photos and stop for a treat such as an ice cream cone.
- Board games and card games are enjoyed by all ages. For older adults who are visually impaired, playing cards and all-time favorites such as Rummikub, Monopoly, Uno and Scrabble are available in large print and even Braille versions. Trivia games and crossword puzzles are good options for those who have more impaired physical abilities.
- Food has a unique way of connecting people with treasured memories. Dining out can be a special treat, but preparing a favorite meal or special family recipe with your loved one, or bringing the finished product to their home to enjoy together can be equally meaningful.
- Pouring through family photo albums is another great way to spend time with an older family member and to share your common heritage.
“Young people may look at spending time with their older family members as something they have to do, but it turns out the kids are often the ones who enjoy it most,” Gelman notes. “I encourage families to bring the generations together not only during May, but throughout the year to create memories they will treasure forever – so remember to bring your camera!”
For more information about Older Americans Month, go to www.olderamericansmonth.aoa.gov/
About Partners in Care. Partners in Care, a not-for-profit organization, is an affiliate of the Visiting Nurse Service of New York, the largest home healthcare agency in the nation. Composed of more than 9,000 certified home health aides, RNs and LPNs, Partners in Care provides private care services for individuals who need assistance within their own homes. The organization helps New Yorkers living with dementia, Alzheimer’s, Multiple Sclerosis and other illnesses maintain their independence and dignity by providing services, including personal care, medication management, companionship, private duty nursing, patient review assessments (PRI) and geriatric care management. For more information call 1-888-735-8913 or visit www.partnersincareny.org.