Image via www.thinkstockphotos.com
Transitioning a loved one or family member into a care arrangement can be difficult. Communication barriers, physical distance and isolation can all affect the quality of your relationship. In order to maintain the love and support of your relationship there are a few simple actions you can perform which will help to ensure your loved one feels well looked after and cared for – even from a distance.
Don’t Be A Stranger
Communicate with your loved one frequently. Developing a supportive relationship is easier when you understand their daily routines and how they react to any challenges or surprises in their new surroundings. Simple acts like a regular telephone call to say ‘good morning’ or letters and packages filled with reminders of your love and support can greatly brighten their day and provide a boost for any tougher times.
Regular visits and outings are also encouraged. Try to be positive and remain attentive while listening and engaging with your loved one. If you’re able, reminders from home are a nice way to show you care, whether that’s a small food item, handmade clothing or even a notebook.
Encourage Their Creativity
Healthy ageing occurs when a stimulating, encouragement-filled environment provides enough outlets for creative expression. If your loved one enjoys music, art or dance, encourage them to become involved with appropriate activities available in their care facility.
Creative activities provide an opportunity for your loved one to connect with others on a personal level, where a shared love of an activity acts as an initial bond. This not only helps alleviate any potential loneliness, it encourages collaboration and experimentation.
If you have the means, it can be a good idea to set aside some money so that you can purchase any equipment of supplies they might need in order to pursue their hobbies. Having adequate supplies and support can be the difference between creative outpouring and introspection.
It’s important that you continue to invite and include your loved one in family activities, even if they’re unable to attend. The reminders of the connection to their family and any current events will help to keep your loved one feeling positive and included.
Feelings of isolation and loneliness are often concerns families have when their loved one no longer lives in the family home. Every small island of connection you can provide to your loved one can help to reduce this, and can help them to feel more secure and well looked after in the care of their new surrounds.
It’s important that your loved one stays mentally and physically active as they age. Mental activity and stimulation has been shown to preserve cognitive brain function in older adults, while also decreasing the chances of serious memory loss and decline. Physical activity holds the same health benefits as it does for all adults, while also being a way to counteract any physical decline from inactivity.
If you’re serious about encouraging healthy habits in your loved one, why not use your visiting time to engage them in physical and mental activities. This can range from planned walks and excursions which activate the body and the mind, to stimulating games and films which provide mental exercise.
Games such as cards, chess and general trivia are all cheap and excellent ways to have a fun and mentally satisfying visit with your loved one. They’re also wonderful gifts which your loved one can share with any friends they make, encouraging further mental stimulation and companionship.
Maintaining a supportive relationship with your loved one while they’re in aged care is not as complex as it may seem. Simple, loving gestures such as regular contact, encouraging their creative outlets, and providing them with links to home may all help to ensure their ongoing health, happiness and zest for life.