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By assistedcar22731191, Nov 29 2018 05:32PM

Creating something always feels like a productive way to spend time. When your creations can become holiday decorations or gifts, all the better. Some simple holiday crafts can turn an independent living or assisted living facility into a place full of cheery holiday atmosphere and leave residents equipped with items they can give to friends and family.

Here are ten holiday crafts for seniors that are fairly easy to do and produce useful, festive results.

1. A Thankful Tree

Everyone could do with more frequent reminders of all the things we have to be thankful about. A thankful tree gives everyone around an opportunity to add their own items to it, listing off the people and things in life they’re most appreciative of.

It can stay up the whole holiday season and grow as the holidays provide more meaningful moments and forgotten memories come back to mind.

2. Fall Foliage Candleholders

Colorful fall leaves are one of nature’s best decorations. This craft starts with an excuse to get outside and collect some of the most beautiful leaves around, and then gives seniors the chance to turn them into crafts that will let their beauty continue to shine in the months to come.

3. Felted Acorns

Start with some simple acorns and end up with a colorful decoration everyone can enjoy. In October and November, these can be decorated in the traditional fall colors. As you near Christmas, you can switch to red and green. Or you can just let everyone pick their favorite colors as they go.

4. Christmas Candy Containers

Having candy available for visitors and friends is a familiar holiday tradition for many. With this craft the presentation can become that much more impressive. These containers, made to look like classic gumball machines, can be used to hold peppermints, gumdrops, or any sugarless candy that’s recommended for the seniors in your facility.

5. Homemade Christmas Cards

Cards may seem old fashioned these days with so many people switching to email, but if you give your Christmas cards a personal touch, friends and family are that much more likely to appreciate them.

There are a lot of different directions you can take with crafty homemade Christmas cards; here are a few ideas to give you some inspiration:

Scrappy holiday cards

Pop-up Christmas tree card

Holly sprig card

6. Homemade Heating Pads

Any time you’re faced with aches and pains, heat is a trusty solution. These heating pads are very easy to make and can be made properly festive by choosing a towel with a holiday-themed decoration on it. They make great gifts, or can be something useful to keep around for yourself.

7. Waterless Snow Globes

Making water-filled snow globes is probably pretty tricky, but these waterless ones are much easier and still accomplish the same goal. They’re lovely and give a great taste of the season.

8. Cookie Cutter Ornaments

Start with cookie cutters and then think creatively about how best to decorate them to make them more personal. You can add colors and design or fill them with pictures of beloved family members. Whatever direction you go in, they’ll make a great addition to the Christmas tree.

9. A Christmas Bow Wreath

What do you get when you combine two familiar Christmas symbols? This fun Christmas wreath made out of gift bows. It’s simple to put together and makes for a nice Christmas decoration.

10. Bowtie Pasta Garland

The ingredients are cheap, but the results are festive. Decorate some bowtie pasta and string it up to make an inspired holiday decoration. It can go on the Christmas tree, or add some decoration to the walls or windows.

Crafts aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, but for your residents that love an opportunity to create something, these can definitely brighten the holiday season!

By assistedcar22731191, Nov 8 2018 05:48PM

Thanksgiving is almost here! While not everyone agrees on which holiday is the best holiday, nobody can complain about one entirely devoted to eating good food and celebrating the people you love.

Aging brings with it its share of challenges, so having a day (or really, a month) devoted to thinking about all the things in life that are good and the people still around to care about is worth celebrating. And family members and caregivers should be quick to encourage that celebration.

To get your loved one in the spirit, devote some time this month to seasonal crafts. Crafts are a great excuse to spend some time together and many of them can become decorations to brighten up your loved one’s space with the resulting decorations.

1. Fan Folded Leaves

These lovely, simple crafts can be used to decorate any surface or be hung around the house in the days leading up to Thanksgiving. They can fill your home will the look of Fall leaves, without the mess of bringing in actual ones (although those can be lovely too).

2. A Fall Wreath

Make a wreath to hang on your door and greet any visitors that come to your home or room with Thanksgiving cheer. This one sticks to our theme of beautiful Fall wreaths, but if you want other options, you can click the arrow links to see a few more ideas in the slideshow.

3. Paint Gourds

Even if you already painted pumpkins for Halloween, there’s no reason not to replicate the tradition with different types of gourds for Thanksgiving. A popular option is to paint various gourds white, and then put a design or words on them.

4. Leaf Artwork from Real Leaves

What’s fall without lots of different leaf-themed crafts? This one starts with a trip outside to find a number of beautiful fall leaves (try to find a bunch of different colors), then provides steps to turn those leaves into a larger work of art portraying one big leaf.

5. Colorful Corn Husk Napkin Rings

These napkin rings are made from polymer clay and and resemble corn husks in traditional fall colors. You can use the same craft idea to decorate in other ways – you can make larger husks to decorate your countertops or scatter them on your table on Thanksgiving day to add to the ambience.

6. Decorative Stick Candle Holders

This is our second craft to involve an outdoor excursion, this time to collect short, narrow sticks. Once you have them, simply hot glue them onto a glass votive and voila, you have a seasonal candle holder. If you don’t want your loved one using real fire (or if it’s not allowed in their assisted living home), you can stick with artificial candles.

7. Rosemary Wreath Place Cards

These mini wreaths made of rosemary look nice and smell great to boot. You can use them as place cards on Thanksgiving as the link suggests, but you can also make use of them to decorate your home in the days leading up to the holiday. They can even become ornaments for your Christmas tree (although the scent won’t last through both holidays).

Crafts aren’t required to enjoy your Thanksgiving, but they can really help with starting to set the scene for the holiday in advance. And the senior in your life will benefit from having a solid reason to sit around the table with their loved ones and do something fun and meaningful together.

By assistedcar22731191, Oct 29 2018 02:16PM

Halloween Crafts for Seniors

Halloween crafts can be completed early in October so you can use them as decorations throughout the rest of the month. The seniors at your assisted living facility can put their mark on the building’s look for a little while and you’ll set the (moderately) creepy atmosphere for the weeks to come.

1. Decorate pumpkins.

One of the best traditional crafts for Halloween time is making jack-o-lanterns. If you’re not sure about handing all of your seniors sharp implements, you can have a pumpkin painting day or give them sharpies to draw designs on the pumpkins.

2. Make spooky candles.

The lacy candles recommended by Elder One Stop are easy to make, made of cheap supplies, and won’t be a fire risk (they recommend flameless). They’ll add a nice bit of atmosphere to your facility.

3. Make decorative spiderwebs.

You can get together to make simple and cheap spiderwebs to hang around the community out of coffee filters. Throw in a little yarn and your residents will also have the option of creating larger cobweb decorations for the space.

4. Make spiral ghosts.

Some white paper, a black sharpie, and scissors are all your group needs to make these spinning ghosts. You can hang them around the shared spaces of the facility.

5. Decorative Halloween garlands.

For one more addition to your homemade decorations, you can task any interested seniors with making decorative Halloween garlands for your hallways. Here are some ideas of bat and ghost garlands and glow-in-the-dark ones.

(Mostly) Healthy Halloween Recipes for Seniors

You can find loads of cute Halloween recipes on the web, but most of them are laden with sugar. Since many seniors have health concerns, we tried to pick out a few of the healthier options that still fit the theme.

1. Shrunken Head Cider

From the twisted mind of Martha Stewart comes this shrunken head cider. You can skip the booze if you want and stick with the rest of the recipe.

2. Sweet potato jack-o-lanterns

Sweet potatoes are just the right mix of healthy and tasty and these jack-o-lanterns will make a fun, theme-appropriate snack that’s easy to make.

3. Dragon’s blood punch

Made mostly of juices (although it may still be too sugary for some), this punch is simple to make in large quantities and should make for a tasty treat.

4. Devilish Eggs

Adorable deviled eggs made from healthy ingredients are easy for your residents to put together and tasty for everyone to enjoy once finished.

5. Cheesy Witch’s Brooms

Cuter than any witch’s implement should be, these witch’s brooms made of cheese and pretzels shouldn’t be too hard to make and will be even easier to devour. (Note: scroll down for the English instructions).

Other Halloween Activites for Seniors

If you want to pack Halloween week with more fun, interactive activities at your facility, try out some of these ideas.

1. Halloween charades

Brainstorm as many different Halloween-related themes and ideas you can think of for your residents to act out. You should all have fun watching people mime Dracula or try to figure out how to act like a spider. Here’s a list to get you started.

2. Share scary stories

Your residents probably know some good ones, but you can come equipped with a book or some stories from the internet just in case. If enough of your residents express an interest in sharing their own scary stories, you can make it into a contest.

3. Homemade costume contest

Encourage your seniors to come up with homemade mask and costumes ideas. If you can make some materials available for them to work with, that may spark inspiration in a few of them. On Halloween, have everyone vote on which costume came out the best.

4. Assisted living trick-or-treat

Most seniors probably feel silly trick-or-treating around the neighborhood, but let’s be honest, most of us loved trick-or-treating and were a little sad when we got too old for it. The solution: set it up within the assisted living facility. Let any seniors that want to participate get dressed up and hit up trick-or-treating stations you set up.

5. Classic horror movie marathon

Your residents probably have some favorite old classic horror movies. Poll them to pick out a few of the most popular, and give them the option to come together and watch them on Halloween or in the days leading up to it.

Halloween’s not for everybody, so you’ll probably have residents uninterested in participating in some of these activities, but those that enjoy the season will be happy to have the opportunity to celebrate it in a variety of ways.

By assistedcar22731191, Aug 30 2018 03:17PM

KEEP YOUR FRIENDS CLOSE as you age, because they may be the key to keeping your brain healthy, according to a new study.

The study, published Thursday in the journal Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, found mice housed in groups had better memory and healthier brains than those living in pairs. The findings influence "a body of research in humans and animals that supports the role of social connections in preserving the mind and improving quality of life," according to Elizabeth Kirby, assistant professor of behavioral neuroscience at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and lead author of the study.

The study used mice that were 15 months to 18 months old during the experiment – a time of significant memory decay. Some of the mice lived in pairs, while others were housed in groups of seven for three months. The first test required the mice to recognize that a toy, such as a plastic car, had been moved to a new location.

A mouse with a healthy brain would recognize something has been relocated, and mice that lived in larger groups generally fared better on this assessment, according to Kirby.

"We found that mice housed in groups remembered objects better," Kirby says.

In another maze-based memory test, mice were placed on a table with holes, and both groups of mice were tasked with finding new escape routes every time. With four total trials a day, it was noted that both groups improved their escape routes each time. However, the coupled mice did not complete the test faster when it was repeated several times. But the group-housed mice improved performance with each trial, suggesting they used their hippocampus, an area of the brain associated with memory.

"One of the holes had an escape hatch," Kirby says. "Every day we'd place the hatch in a new location. We found that all mice [found the hatch] quickly, but the difference was in how they did it."

Paired mice performed what is known as a "serial search," checking the holes for the hatch systematically, Kirby says. While the method is efficient, it is easier to do and less effective than "spatial searching," which is what the group-housed mice did to find the hatch. Spatial searching involves remembering where the hatch was the first time and trying to find it in subsequent trials.

"A parallel in humans is trying to remember where you parked your car," Kirby says. "If you have some memory of where it is, it's much more efficient to navigate directly to your car."

In healthy humans, mice and other animals, brain function in the hippocampus declines with age. Social ties are recommended to preserve memory in this region of the brain in humans, Kirby says. Although there were no differences in neuron growth in the hippocampus between the two groups, researchers found increased inflammation in the brain tissue of coupled mice, which is evidence of declined cognitive health.

So, what does the experiment mean for humans?

Joseph B. Orange, a professor of communication sciences and disorders at Western University in Ontario, Canada, says this research is helpful for identifying the impact of social connections on brain health.

"This advances our research that identifies social inclusion versus exclusion in advancing people's lives," says Orange, who was not involved in the research. "We want to use models that help our research in humans. Mice and humans share a lot in DNA structure, so the models used here are quite applicable."

By assistedcar22731191, Aug 16 2018 02:53PM

ACCORDING TO DEBBY Bitticks, there are 101 reasons to document your life story. These include: remembering the challenges and triumphs you faced on your life journey; an opportunity to analyze your past while gaining insight about who you are today; understanding how your experiences have influenced the path you chose in life; and becoming aware of ambitions or dreams that you have not yet realized. The list goes on from there, too.

Debby should know. She's the creator of "Cherished Memories", a 96-page guide for documenting your life story or that of a loved one. Now, she can add a 102 reason for documenting your life story: It's good for your health.

A recent article by Matthew Solan, executive editor of Harvard's Men's Health Watch, shed light on this. From the article: "The actual writing aspect also can be a therapeutic tool as you explore issues that may still trouble you. A study published in the March 2018 JAMA Psychiatry found that writing about a specific upsetting memory was just as effective as traditional cognitive processing therapy in treating adults with post-traumatic stress disorder."

Ken Bitticks, Debby's husband, used her book to document his father's life. He says: "As we're going through this with my father, one of the things that was absolutely amazing to me is that here's a man 85 years old, and I started going through the questions, guiding him through discussion, [and] I realized I knew almost nothing about him. You think you know your parent, but you really don't."

The Benefits Are Many

Capturing a life story is more than just an exercise in storytelling. It's a chance to pass along wisdom and life lessons. It gives you an opportunity to exercise your memory; organize your photos and music; and discover if any events from your past are still impacting your life. According to Debby, it gives you an opportunity for self-growth, reflection and awareness. It's a chance to strengthen family bonds, friendships and intimate relationships. You can capture your health history and even draft an ethical will to share your values, blessings, life's lessons, hopes and dreams for the future, love and forgiveness with your family, friends and community.

Where to Start

Well, not necessarily at the beginning. You could start by places you have lived and the homes you've lived in. It could be your childhood house, your first home or the home where your kids were raised. Photos certainly can prompt memories and stories. Or you can use writing prompts, like the ones Debby has collected in "Cherished Memories." Her book is organized as follows: Birth – Twelve; My Teen Years; My Adult Life; Values & Philosophies; My Favorites; My Family Tree; My Health History; Additional Thoughts & Stories; Extra Pages: Photographs: Articles/Documents.

Brendan Kearney, a Vitalize 360 wellness coach at Harvard-affiliated Hebrew SeniorLife, said in the article, "You would be surprised at how interested your peers and family members are in your stories and personal history. You have a unique firsthand account of your culture and history that others don't, and leaving a recorded history of your life can be an important gift to both you and your descendants."

I'm Not a Writer!

No worries. Perhaps someone can audio interview you, and then you can have the audio transcribed using tools like Sonix, InqScribe or Dragon NaturallySpeaking. You can do that when interviewing a loved one as well. There are some well-honed writing tips if you're up to it. For example: Write every day for a short period of time, and write at the same time of day. The Harvard article suggest writing longhand, as doing so can activate parts of the brain associated with short- and long-term memory. The slower process can also help improve attention and information processing.

Get a Head Start

Debby is on a mission to have everyone capture their life story. To that end, I'm working with her to spread the word. Here's the great news. She's giving away a PDF version of "Cherished Memories" at no charge. If you're thinking of capturing your story or that of a loved one, send me an email and I'll send you "Cherished Memories."

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