Spring has finally sprung here in Chicago. Flowers are blooming, the days are getting longer and warmer, and all across town, people are opening their windows and starting to daydream about the future.
For many of us, the spring season means it’s time to hit the road or fly the friendly skies. With nicer weather conditions and a built-in “spring break” window, this is a popular time to travel. For many, the spring travel season is going to mean visiting home, and spending some quality time with elderly family and friends.
For adults with senior relatives, their spring visit home can be incredibly important and productive. Getting the chance to head home and enjoy time with your senior loved ones can be a wonderful opportunity to help out around the house, get your elders involved in springtime activities, and check up on their overall health and well-being.
Want to make the most of your spring visit? Here are five big things to add to your “to-do” list:
1.) Help Out With Spring Cleaning and Chores
Spring cleaning is a popular pastime in households across America. In fact, studies show that nearly 70 percent of all people plan to do some spring cleaning in their home each year. However, for older adults, this is sometimes more easily said than done.
It can take a lot of physical effort to do a deep cleaning, which often involves lifting, stooping, and bending to get all the dust and grime in those hard-to-reach areas, or make headway on that pile of clutter. Similarly, tackling gardening projects and yard work can be a lot for a senior to take on alone. The same goes for all of those big renovation and repair projects that a lot of us put off until the weather gets nicer.
If you have time, ask your senior loved one what their priorities are around the house, and pitch in where you can. This could mean helping your loved one tend to their garden; tackling some dusting, organizing, decluttering, and other housekeeping chores.
2.) Get Your Loved One Involved in the Community
Loneliness and social isolation are some of the most serious issues that seniors face. In the springtime, seeing the nice weather outside may only serve to exacerbate these common problems, as your family may feel even more alone and cut off than usual.
During your spring visits, help your senior loved one to be social, however you can. When you visit, spend plenty of quality one-on-one time with your older relatives. You may wish to spend your time together by trading stories, playing games, going through old photo albums, or watching a favorite movie. The spring travel season is a great time to bring around grandkids, or schedule family reunions to bring your entire extended family together. In other cases, it may help to take your loved one out and about. You can offer to drive them to a religious service at their church or temple, help them get involved in charity or a community event, or even just offer to arrange a meeting with their group of friends and neighbors.
Whatever you can do to help your senior loved ones stay social, the better! For older adults, maintaining strong social bonds has been tied to better health, increased happiness, greater independence, and a longer life.
3.) Help Your Loved One Connect with Nature
Spring is a special time. Flowers grow, trees return to their most verdant shades of green, and lots of animals come out from their winter rest. Getting the chance to experience all of the beauty of the natural world can be a fulfilling and rejuvenating experience. In fact, studies have shown that connecting with nature, for even a few minutes a day, can help lower stress levels, extend longevity, and reduce the risk of developing chronic health concerns, including heart disease and high blood pressure.
This season, help your senior loved one go outside and savor the springtime. You may want to plan on taking a walk around the neighborhood, or go for a scenic drive together. You might also think about arranging a day out in a beautiful locale, like a local park or a nearby arboretum or garden. Even taking a few minutes to eat a meal al fresco, or sit together in the fresh air, can have an enormous impact.
4.) Check Up on Your Elderly Family’s Health and Well-being
Whether you visit your senior family all the time, or only get the chance to be together a few times a year, this spring visit can be a wonderful opportunity to assess any changes in your loved one’s appearance, behaviors, and living environment. If you notice major changes for the worse, it could be a sign that it’s time to reach out for additional caregiving support for your loved one.
What are the warning signs that your parent could use some additional help? In general, we encourage family members to look out for some of the following “yellow flags:”
- Your loved one has become unable to keep up with daily activities, such as bathing, walking, cooking, and eating
- Dramatic changes in your senior family’s appearance, such as weight loss, bruising, or poor grooming or hygiene
- Your loved one’s living environment has become messy – for instance, you may notice piles of laundry everywhere, mail piling up, dust or grime on surfaces, or an unkempt yard
- Your relative has become withdrawn and socially isolated
- Your senior relative is exhibiting mental and behavioral changes, like frequent memory lapses and confusion, mood swings, poor speech, or abusive behavior
For more details, we have a full guide on this important subject, available here.
5.) Get Help If You Need It
If you notice any troubling changes or developments during your spring visit home, it’s important to reach out for help. There are many different options and resources available to your family.
If you feel that your senior loved one could use some additional help around the house, or just the company of a familiar friend and confidant, home care is often going to be one of the best possible solutions. In this arrangement, a trained, professional caregiver can spend time with your loved one, for anywhere from a few hours a week to full-time. Your caregiver can help your loved one with light housekeeping, activities of daily living, meal prep, transportation services, and more, empowering your loved one to live independently and safely in the comfort of their own home.
About Companions for Seniors
At Companions for Seniors, our mission is to help seniors live independently and with dignity in the comfort of their own home by empowering them to lead an active and enriched lifestyle, connecting them with their community, and nurturing meaningful relationships.
Our companions are trained, bonded, and insured, and can help provide a variety of services designed to help your loved one thrive while remaining in place. We’re locally owned in the Chicago area, with clients in the city and suburbs.
Have any more questions? Looking for help? Get in touch today to keep the conversation going! We’d be happy to help you find specific solutions tailored to your loved one’s unique care needs.