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Senior Adults, Relationship before Task

senior artworkBeing a CAREGiver is not about killing time and filling time.  It is most certainly not about being a “sitter.”  Being a Home Instead CAREGiver is about connection–growing a relationship in which a professional has the uplifting opportunity of actually enriching seniors’ lives.  Activities for senior adults are not about busyness.  Activities for senior adults are a framework for benefiting aging adults in a number of ways—not the least of which is fostering relationships with others.  As a matter of fact, the phrase “relationship before task” has become somewhat a mantra around the Baton Rouge Home Instead franchise.

It’s not a hard-to-follow concept; when a CAREGiver knows a client, knows that client’s history, he or she can better meet the client on an emotional level.  Because of the relational foundation, the care-er can seek out activities that the client will look forward to–even offering the expectation of a good day is part and parcel of enriching seniors’ lives.  Too few older adults meet their days with happy anticipation.

Perhaps the relationship-building starts with an understanding of the career that was the focus of much of the client’s life.  Perhaps the common thread is a shared interest or hobby.  Whether the client and CAREGiver have a mutual wild-eyed devotion to a football team or the two share a passion for pampering rosebushes, our CAREGivers are expressly trained to look for a connection and build on it. Whatever the link, the relationship deepens as they spend time doing or discussing the things they enjoy.  Activities for seniors adults are rarely, if ever, activities only for senior adults!  By spending time together, the client and CAREGiver get to know one another better; getting to know one another better suggests things to do as they spend time together. The joy of doing things together will draw the two closer, and a happy cycle circles onward.

A lovely example both in theory and in execution is the artwork produced by CAREGiver Nelly and her client.  The current popularity of adult coloring books has made all sorts of projects available, and Nelly found a poster that she and her client could work on together.  Basically, Nelly worked to color in one side of the poster and the client did the other.  Together, they brought the image to life.  Not only did outlined pictures of birds and flowers bloom into art, but the connection between the women blossomed, as well.  That’s the beauty of an on-going activity in an on-going, on-growing relationship.

Whether you are a family member or a professional, meaningful activities are necessary to caregiving success.  Activities for senior adults can be tailored for any senior, to meet that person where he or she is on a given day.  Even deeply challenged individuals benefit from thoughtfully chosen activities that promote self-esteem, encourage mental and physical interaction and that are just plain fun!

There is something that is right for absolutely everyone.  Here, for example, is a sample from a list of “100 Activities to Do with Someone Who Has Alzheimer’s” from Alzheimer’s Services of the Capital Area:

  • Read out loud
  • Put coins in a bank
  • Make snacks for grandkids
  • Go to Sonic
  • Look at a globe or atlas

This list is just a teaser.  In our next post, we will talk specifically about engaging people who have Alzheimer’s disease.  Meanwhile, keep in mind that an “activity” is really anything that is done together, caregiver and loved one.  The ideas listed above can lead to conversations or suggest related activities to enjoy together.  “Together” really is the magic word.  The essence of the concept is being together, investing time; investing oneself.  If you are caregiver for anyone, let me encourage you pick up our phrase, “relationship before task”!

Adriann Griffith
Adriann Griffith
Adriann has been blogging for Home Instead since the Baton Rouge blog's inception. She is an award-winning writer and a published poet. Adriann's particular passion is writing about Alzheimer's disease, embracing Proverbs 31:8, "Speak up for the people who have no voice."

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