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Recreating Memories With Your Aging Parent

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How can you share activities with your loved one when they can't get out like they used to?

Hobbies and activities keep the mind sharp, the body healthy and the heart happy, especially as we age. Unfortunately, mobility issues, dementia and other health conditions may prevent loved ones from participating in activities they've shared with you for years.

Dad can't join you for games at the baseball stadium anymore. Mom stopped baking, which puts a damper on your mother-daughter holiday cookie tradition. Even if your parents can't do the things they used to, you can still maintain family traditions. It just takes a new approach.

 

Modify the memory

Amy Rea and her father used to make lefse, a Norwegian flatbread, during the holidays. When he couldn't get around as easily, Rea brought the equipment and ingredients to him. With that minor modification, Dad still got to prepare the holiday treat, and both father and daughter had fun sharing the experience.

Rachel Weingarten says she and her late father used to go to the opera together. "When things became rough for him, we would watch YouTube clips together of our favorite bits and email each other new operas we found," she says. "It gave us something to do together — research, share, discuss."

 

Create new memories

Grandparents and grandchildren share a strong bond. A visit from the grandkids can brighten your loved one's day like nothing else.

Does your mom like music? Let her mobile-savvy granddaughter play her the new Taylor Swift single. Let Grandma teach her to play "Chopsticks" on the piano. Music has a profound impact on everyone, especially memory-impaired adults.

Elizabeth Gardner and her mother sang in several choirs together before a stroke took away her mother's sense of balance. To get mom out of the house, Gardner rejoined a local church choir with her mother, took her to rehearsals and made sure she safely found a seat. "It cheered us both up and made her some new friends," says Gardner. "And she was a genuinely valued member of the choir, which helped her self-esteem a lot."

 

Join their community

You may not be interested in your parent's art therapy class, but you can join him for other activities at his retirement community. Spectrum Retirement Communities offers a wealth of activities that allow your loved one to continue her favorite hobbies, including a few of your shared pastimes.

If you and Dad used to go to the movies on Sunday afternoon, join him at his place for the community's movie night. If you followed most dinners with a game of poker or chess, stop by and play a few rounds in one of the community spaces.

You're always welcome to join your loved one on a walk around the grounds if your traditional hike in the woods isn't an option anymore. And if your social butterfly mom misses throwing parties, plan one with her with the help of her community's staff.

When your loved one's health throws in a curveball, you can continue parent-child bonding experiences with a bit of ingenuity. You'll establish new traditions and leave your loved one with many more years of happy memories.