Anyone have tips on how to brighten the day of an aging parent?

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I provide daily care for a dear lady whose vision, and hearing, is failing.Her main request (as I tend to bustle about getting 'chores' done for her) is to SIT DOWN! She says this humorously, and I do sit, and we talk about a varied list of subjects. Mostly I listen to her and encourage her to tell me more about her girlhood and early years of marriage, which was happy for her. I also take her out; at least 2-3 times per week. Sometimes it is for grocery shopping (we laugh so much the store employees must think we are both goofy), and I help guide her cart while she uses it as support (but mostly I think, to feel she is still being independent). I become her eyes when seeking the items on her list, and for reading fine print on things. We also enjoy going to the local garden center - she can still see the bold, bright colored blooms on the plants and takes great joy in seeing them all, as we walk arm-in-arm so that I may guide her steps. I have taken her to a local park, with a huge man-made lake; we had a picnic there one day and she was delighted and refreshed by the change in routine. She recently asked to go to a large natural lake, much further away than the park, but I took her as it had been years since she had last been there. There was a little 'hole-in-the-wall' bar and grill where we stopped for lunch, and then spent much time near the water with the wind blowing cooly off the waves and gently blowing toward this lady's face. She was lost in thought for a while, and I took her photograph(s) to email to her children that night. I read to her, sitting right next to her so she can hear me well. I read from a book written by a lady who was in her 90s at the time (the author has since reached her 100th birthday!) and grew up in the midwest (where we are) but moved to Vermont in later years with her husband. She writes of so many 'old fashioned' topics, and common family practices/traditions and many of these my lady can identify with and so enjoys. The main thing she enjoys? Conversation, and loving hugs both when I arrive and when I leave. She is a treasure.
My mom is in the early stages of dementia & among other things is starting to lose her short term memory. However her long term memory is still good. She really seems to enjoy talking about growing up years ago, relatives, friends, etc. I can ask her a simple question about something that happened years ago or a long gone relative. She will talk for a long time answering my question. She really seems to brighten up during these conversations. I get the extra benefit of learning about some of my family history. This history will be gone as soon as my mother starts losing her long term memory also. So these times are important to both of us.
What about playing some music from their generation? I watched a beautiful video not too long ago about an elder with Alzheimer's listening to his favorite kind of music of his day on a head set. He rarely spoke to people before but he burst out into song when he heard it. It made me tear up to see how happy he became.
Any physical movement, such as wiggling around in bed or a chair - perhaps to music; sitting in a chair while stretching easily and gently; running on the spot in their chair; rubbing their hands together as fast as they can occasionally during the day; walking around. Anything to get the energy moving in their bodies; is the first thing I would say.
Second is authentic, kind, sensitive contact with another person. This might be stroking or brushing their hair; rubbing their feet or hands very gently in a loving manner, sitting very close and talking with them in a soft and loving manner tucking them into bed in the night, patting their back and shoulders. It is such an individual thing. Everyone has different sensitivities but somehow a connection that feels soothing and loving will help them immensely. As the eyes get a little blind, hearing is impaired, the body hurts to move; it is usually the isolation inside that is deadening.
If your parent lives at home and is mobile, a trip outside to a local park or zoo, have someone bring a dog or cat to her home for a visit, go to lunch or dinner, go to a local theater for a play. Adult day care, senior center, a walk around the block.
We have a "Mocktail" party in the LR or in the deck from time to time. A big glass of h2o is our house brand martini. Add cheese/ball, crackers, fresh red bell peppers or apple slices-any little party snacks on a platter w little spreaders N cocktail forks N small napkins make for a great little surprise- no planning or company needed. Mom can attend in her housecoat if she wasn't up for getting all the way dressed that day. Or if she did, it can be to celebrate that!
All the advice to move about and connect is wonderful, so this suggestion is for times when the elder is resting: We got a backyard swing for my 97-year-old father, complete with canopy for sun protection. We live on a corner, so he can watch people and dogs go by, children play, and have neighbors stop by to talk.
What awesome suggestions... the interactive part is the best, the touch...My S man is not able to do much of anything anymore, unsteady on his feet, but one thing he loves to do is watch the birds outside.. so I have put birdfeeders out side the window, keep the birdbath full and clean, he loves to see the birds taking a bath. He is unable to finish a sentence at this paying a lot of attention to what he is trying to say helps too, it is very hard to have 'conversation' with him at this point, but we do laugh alot.... I even get him to dance and shake his booty for his wife ... he lit up and Iike to have never got him to bed!!! So we do the dancing earlier in the day now....He is not able to follow a book reading, but we do watch tv commercials together... even tho most of it doesn't make sense to him, I can tell which part he liked , so we talk about it and laugh.... and talked recently with Kimbee about appealing to his male ego to 'help' me with things, and he is so sweet and even stands a little taller afterward. Music tends to make him anxious, so we don't do music, and we no longer get to talk about his job, he doesn't remeber.... breaks my heart for him.... he is lost in his world so much of the time, so when I can find something that brings him out a little and makes him smile... I know for that little while he is with us and he is happy.... hugs to you all who put time and thought into making it less of burden to them to be so dependent....
Check with your local public library. They should have info on the nearest library for the blind and physically handicapped. LBPH will send books (large print, recorded, etc.) along with equipment for free. If your parent is very communicative, you could start a family-tree project, but extend it beyond direct relations to include "uncles" and "aunts" (family friends who were considered family) and gather stories on each. Lastly, check with places like AbleData for games, activities, and hobbies that can be adapted for limited physical or cognitive skills.
If you could give us a little more information it would really help us help you... Mom or Dad, age, physical limitations, health issues.... Many things come to mind, so would appreciate some info... thanks , we'll be looking for your next post, or fill out your profile.... hugs...

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