Kelley Smith with CarePartners Senior Living talks about lightening up a senior loved one’s day. One thing Kelley’s done often is dressing up in costumes, such as pirates, food, and baseball players. It got to be fun, and it created events that were about them, and helped them look forward to your visit.
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*The following is the output of transcribing from an audio recording. Although the transcription is largely accurate, in some cases it is incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors.
The following podcast is provided by care partners living and answers for elders. Radio and welcome back to creativity with seniors. With our wonderful Kelly Smith. Front are partners living and we are getting creative in this hour and certainly Kelly, who is our nest peak Glasgow Essence Award. Many reasons why Kelly won award hands down was due to the many outside the box things that she did and in the video if you if you watch the video, you’ll hear but I’m Kelly. I’m just going to paraphrase some of the things that we heard Kelly and her friends Sean Demilio. Sean was at the time in the industry. She’s not not right now. She’s on a sabbatical, which we miss her terribly. But one of the things that you guys used to do is team up together and you dress up at cost in costumes and you would go visit seniors in skilled nursing facilities and different forms ways to cheer them up. So Kelly tell us a little bit about that experience. We thought it would be fun to take seniors gifts and enlightened, you know, kind of lighten up their day a little bit, but you know, coming around with fruit and fun gifts, especially Lee around the holidays. Especially folks are in skilled environments and maybe don’t have families or don’t have people to come and check on them frequently. But then we start thinking about it. We thought we can dress up like us and that’s boring. Why don’t we do it in costumes? So we’ve been pirates one time we were peas and carrots. We have been he’s in carrots. Oh, yeah, like that. That’s funny. My carrot outfit was hysterical. I could barely move in that darned thing. Yeah, we’ve been baseball players and she was mariners and I was the Boston Red Sox and I got tore up every place we went booming, but we every every time we went we were in costume and we went all out on the costumes. I mean we went home obviously wild and I even were Batman. I just see the Batman and I still have my Batman Costume. We did a lot of crazy things, but when we came in there were some residents who’ve been there for so long that they actually look forward to it be like, come take your picture with me. We always met in one of my communities to start off with, which was fun because then my residents, well, there’s that crazy Kelly. You know, they get their pictures taken with us. What are you guys up to today? You know, and then they did a little gift bag to because I’d be like, hope tell everybody else. Is it just for you? You know, have a little fun with them, but everybody like, Oh, here they go again, and it just got to be fun, you know, it got to be fun. And then you go to coffee and I actually have a picture of me holding my starbucks card or my starbucks coffee that says Batman on it. You know, it doesn’t be Gel with the counter decide to put on my coffee, but it was. It was about them and and having them look look forward to your visit because they knew you were going to be nuts. Yeah, just you know, they they it brought. It brought a smile. That could be brought a smile to their face just showing up as us, you bet. But that extra step made it really fun for him. They loved it and that’s what it was really about at the end of the day. Yeah, and and when you when you think about that piece as far as making sure that you’re making that statement and doing things that are outrageous, it’s like I can’t imagine. I mean it’s like what a wonderful thing to do to just make that little effort. And there’s all kinds of things. Maybe you know. I think one of the things that I I heard of once and that was kind of fun is, this is a while ago, but I had some friends that did this. They were there were three daughters and their mother used to love the Andrews Sisters and what they did was they did the Boogie Woggie Bug bugle boy, you know, they lipsing it and they got dressed up in like forty s costumes and they did it for mom’s birthday party and they threw a little birthday party and what they did is they stood up and and they mouth the you know, they livet sanked the Boogie Woggie Book Bugle boy to the Andrews Sisters Nice and everybody loved it and it was fun and it was exciting and I’m telling you that at that was so cool when I heard that story, and that’s like simple learn. You know, that was so interesting. Of You know what we can do together. Well, let’s be honest, Susanne, one of the biggest problems that we have as we become adults. HMM, we grow up, yeah, but our parents still see us as children. Yeah, they do. I don’t care how old you are, your parents still look at you and go, that’s my kid. Yeah, but why not be a kid? Why have to be such a grown up all the time that you can’t be silly once in a while? You can’t be you know, you can’t have fun and and I think that’s one of the things that we always brought to the tables. I’m such a big kid that I don’t care if I embarrass myself. I don’t care, you know, one of the reasons why we love you. But I’m just saying it’s like that that I don’t care, you know, it’s like we had a good time and everybody was fun and I don’t care if somebody else thought, well, that was dumb. Well, I didn’t. Wasn’t trying to impress you. So, yeah, I think sometimes we feel like, well, you know what, we’re too old for that. WHO said? Why can’t you go out in the Front Yard with with dad? Maybe he can’t help you build a snow man but why can’t you be part of that? Why is that bad? Yeah, or find just different ways to experience something. If Dad liked to go fishing, you know, maybe it. Take him to the aquarium and you know, in a wheelchair, maybe you can. You know, but here’s the thing. The locks exactly. But don’t just take him to the aquarium and push him around. He’s a fisherman. Taking the aquarium and ask him about the fish. Yeah, ask him for his experiences, ask him what the differences are and why it matters in and have him tell you stories about him fishing and bring that out in him. So he has a memory and so do you. Absolutely, absolutely. And the other thing that I think is really important is is just to realize that there’s also cultural things that you can still bring them a part of. I know with my mom, you know, she was very, very Swedish, very and you know, I I honored the fact that she was still a member of the Swedish club or Swedish Cultural Center, and when she meant out of money, I still kept the membership up. It was important to me that she still had that, that connection, so she would get the newsletters and things like that, even though she didn’t have the funds to participate or the ability, she still felt connected it, and I think those are the things that I think, you know, we think, oh well, no big deal, will just let that membership laps. Well, no, I chose not to. That was a big part of her life and so I I continued it and I think those are some things that we think about. You know, obviously, when our parents get unfixed in times, and you know, many of them can afford the things that they used to, there’s things that we can do. That’s easy. You know, it’s a great gift. Mom. I read I redid your, you know, your membership for the year, and exactly how much is the membership? Membership? In all honesty? And what if she want up behind her pros? It was no big worth it. Well, and again, little simple things. Yeah, you know, like, for example, I’ve been introduced to the Russian Ukrainian culture this last year. Yeah, it’s amazing to me. Amazing. Human Berries very tight, Oh and tight knit, but not only that, their culture is so rich it’s amazing. Will think about becoming an elderly person in that culture and nobody takes you to the Russian story anymore. Nobody buys you fish and beer anymore? Yep, because all grandma can’t have that. Why can’t she, you know, why can’t you bring her, you know, that salted fish that she loves so much and the beer she’s crazy about in the assisted living? Why not? Exactly. That’s part of her culture and those are the things she grew up on that she loves. Why aren’t we doing those things correct and it’s like, you know, bring her culture home and and you’re not going to be shocked at how many people around you are going to be very impressed to learn about that culture. So it’s like, don’t take their culture away from him just because they got older as well. That’s also a way to be creative. It’s like spink a little bit about where they came from and what kinds of things are still important to them because of their their rich heritage. Yes, and speaking of that too, is help them participate. I know, you know, in when I would have my mom over for Thanksgiving, one of the things that she always took pride in is how she made the gravy. I don’t know, that was like a big deal for her, and so what I would do is I would bring her wheelchair up to the stove while I was making it and she actually was able to stand up and watch me do it, but I knew exactly what to do, but it was the point of having her do it with me and that was an honor that she had. So, you know, and then I would have her taste it and she’ll say, oh, it needs a little more salt. That’s like, okay. I made it exactly the way she wanted it made and that was honoring her. The other thing that I always did, which is really kind of funny, is because I inherited all her really fancy China and crystal. I don’t care if we were having macaroni and cheese at my house, I would bring out the China and the crystal and we would eat on that, those dishes, because that was something special and I wanted her to know that I was enjoying them and that she was a part of that passing. You know, that passing the torch to me, and I think those are things that we don’t necessarily think about that we can do to honor them, and certainly I know that there’s a lot of things in communities. One of the things my mom had was a doll collection right and I when they saw those dolls, I was ricked, really thrilled. The community actually did a whole they had a big Tea China cabinet that they had stuff inside. They took everything out of it and put up for the month of you know, whatever month it was, they said these are her her dolls, the’s are normous dolls and we want to honor that, and that was so cool. I thought, wow, what a nice thing to do. Again see your living communities. They do those things for you and I’m sure you guys do the same thing. You Bet we do it. But one of the thing when you were talking about families in the China and all that. One last thing I would love to add is do not neglect bringing the grandchildren. Do not neglect having your parents, grandparents are around, the little ones you want to see, and we’ve even seen it with our dementia residents. There’s one thing that residents never forget and that’s how hold a baby. You know, here’s like. Don’t, don’t ever take that away from them. Ever, I don’t care how sick they get, I don’t care how advanced their dementia is, they will never forget that feeling and either will that child as they grow up. Here’s a picture of you with grandma when you were brand new and she was ninety years old, and that assisted living. Look at here’s the picture for holding you. Don’t take that away right because you see that sometimes. Well, grandma won’t remember a many way. Don’t do that to them, please don’t. That’s another way to be creative. Let them see the children. I love it and it’s bringing the heart into the picture. It really it really is. And don’t assume that children are going to be afraid of somebody with Alzheimer’s, because they’re not. Children are so adaptive. Absolutely all children see is somebody that they that they love. They don’t see the disease. So so really don’t be too judgmental with that and don’t keep people from them that can bring them joy. That’s another way that you can be creative. I love it, and so everyone. Kelly and I will be right back talking about being creative with seniors right after this. The preceding podcast was provided by care partners living and answers for elder’s radio. To contact care partners living, go to care partners livingcom
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Founder and CEO of Answers for Elders, Inc., Suzanne Newman proclaims often, “Caring for my mom was the hardest thing I ever have done, but it was also my greatest privilege.” Following a career of over 25 years in sales, media, and marketing management, Suzanne Newman found herself on a 6-year journey caring for her mother. Her trials and tribulations as a family caregiver inspired an impassioned life mission outside of the corporate world to revolutionize the journey that so many other American families also find themselves on. In 2009, she became the founder and CEO of Answers for Elders, Inc., subsequently hosting hundreds of radio segments and podcasts, as well as authoring her first book. Suzanne and Answers for Elders, Inc. have spent 14 years, and counting, committed to helping families and seniors along their caregiving journeys by providing education, resources, and support. Each week on the Answers for Elders podcast, Suzanne is joined by vetted professional experts in over 65 categories including Health & Wellness, Life Changes, Living Options, Money, Law, and more. Suzanne lives in Edmonds, Washington with her husband, Keith, and their two doodle dogs, Whidbey and Skagit.
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