Summertime and the Livin is easy… (Unless you are caring for a needy elder loved one)


The advent of the good weather seems to have arrived.

Maybe you had your opening season backyard cookout over the weekend.  Perhaps your event was the first outing of the season for some of your elder friends and family.  If so, what was their experience?  Were they delighted to be participating?  Did they have limited energy and tire quickly, or were they the last to leave?  Did it seem easy and relaxing for them, or was it challenging to connect and participate in the conversation?  Did it energize them, was it exhausting, or both?

Use your observation skills

Collect data on your senior's endurance and comfort level.

 If your loved one lives a quiet life, perhaps living alone, a small amount of socialization can go a long way.  However, too much stimulation can feel chaotic and detract from what was supposed to be a fun celebration.  They might have the staying power of two hours at an event that ends up being more like six hours in length.  Far better to make a short and sweet appearance, enjoy the event, and not feel overwhelmed with input.

Keep it simple.

Driving by the beach to see all the colors, umbrellas, and hear the sounds is a sensory buffet. Bring an ice cream, and it becomes a 5-star experience (at least in my family).  An outdoor concert with folding chairs, a thermos of iced tea, and staying for 30 minutes to hear some music?  Perfect.  Consider your loved one's interests and what their attention span and physical endurance will allow.  Even a short visit to the Peabody Essex Museum is better than no visit. 

If outside venues are too challenging, a lawn chair and iced coffee at a place with a view or pleasant breeze could be perfect.  Music is available to us all with a few swipes on a smartphone.  "What are your two favorite songs, and why?"  Excellent conversation starter and then PRESTO… like magic, you make the songs appear. 

One "truism" that seems to cross all demographics is that there is great joy in the regular.

Thirty of my 40-years of nursing practice focused on those with serious illness or at the end of life has taught me a great deal.  There's a great delight in that perfect cup of tea in a favorite mug.  There are stories attached to so many of our possessions and, of course, our memories. 

As the Grinch surveys all that he has taken from Whoville, only to see that their celebration continues anyway, he observes that perhaps "it doesn't come from a store, maybe just maybe, it means a little bit more."  I've always interpreted that as "peeling the onion" until you get to what really matters.  What do your elder loved ones want most of all?  Your time and engagement. 

That's tricky, with many of us spinning hot plates of food over our heads.  But, being clear about what we can and cannot do, fulfilling our commitments to visit, and finding creative ideas that allow spending time in the beautiful outdoors is not only good for our loved ones, but it's essential for us too.  Maybe our time can be spent slowing down, taking it all in, and being in the moment.

Creating new precious memories and savoring the old ones refreshes our connections.  I know I can be guilty of wanting to serve "the perfect meal" when the real focus should be perfectly enjoying my company.  But, as we come off of Memorial Day weekend and may have taken a trip down Memory Lane (I always do), we realize that our memories are precious treasures. 

Let's take very good care of the memories we have and keep finding creative ways to make new ones that are a fit for the seniors we love.  Happy Summer, Happy Connecting. 

summertime, memorial day, energy