Saturday, January 29, 2011



Many times, we tend to do everything for the elderly because they're too slow, make mistakes, or don't do things correctly. Yes, we can get things done faster if we do things ourselves, but are we hurting the elderly because they no longer engage themselves physically or mentally in everyday tasks? Do they lose their self-esteem because they no longer feel they're contributing to their ever shrinking community? Yes, many believe so.

We must be as patient with them as we are with children. The only difference is that children will build upon each success pattern and the elderly will eventually deteriorate with memory loss and physical frailties.

When my dad passed away in 1994, he made me promise to watch over my mother. So I moved her in with me and she remained with me until her passing in 2002. I was busy with two teenagers at the time and ran my business from my home so I didn't have much patience with her. I had her do the laundry and dusting around the house and gave her limited duties around the stove. I did the cooking and she heated her meal in the microwave oven most of the time because I also coached baseball and was very active in PTSA activities.

In early 1995, I got a puppy to keep her company. It was one of the best decisions I made. She was named Koge (Ko-gay) and my mom had someone to scold and discipline. Koge slept in my mom's room at night to keep a watch over her.

My mom was also a Buddhist and that required frequent visits to the family gravesites. So, I grew torch ginger, orchids and anthuriums. She would go out into the yard a couple of times a day and watch as each plant grew and flowered. Every few days, she would cut flowers and place them on the family alter in her room.

Another thing that the elderly enjoy is growing food. One can do this even if one doesn't have a yard. If you live in a condo where you have a lanai, you can plant vegetables in those storage bins made by Rubbermaid. If you have a yard and have the energy, you can plant a hydroponic garden that could make you self-sustaining in the event our government goes broke and the streets get chaotic.

Some of these gardens use tilapia in tanks to  fertilize the vegetables and the vegetables in turn, recycle and cleanse the water for the tilapia. In one system, one can have protein from the fish and vegetables for vitamins, minerals and fiber. You will find that the elderly in your care will spend more time outside watching the recycling of life.

The elderly also enjoy doing crafts or making things. I encouraged my mom to continue her crocheting where she made potholders, doilies, clothing and decorative items. It keeps them busy and focused on completing something and they have something to look forward to every day. I've noticed that at the care homes I visit, the people who come in with arts and crafts are more popular than those who run Bingo games. They bring in pre-drawn pictures where they can color by the numbers, make crafts and other items that they can show off to their friends.

If we don't give them something to be responsible for, then they're just waiting to die.

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