I Know Spring is Coming…I Just Wish it Would Get Here Already!

How difficult it is to be a caregiver when poor weather has you and your loved one stuck inside for a prolonged period of time. Spring can’t come soon enough. Nice weather would allow you to get outside even if it’s just for a walk. Time always passes more quickly with something to look forward to. In the movie Field of Dreams it was said “if you build it they will come.” This applies to visits too, if you plan it they will come. Keep in mind that it is also difficult to be the visitor – it’s hard to know what to talk about or how to pass the time during a visit. It’s even hard to know long you are expected or should stay.

If you let your guests know ahead of time that you’ve planned something special it makes for a positive experience. It makes them look forward to future visits which will help encourage them to come again.

Here is an indoor winter idea:

1. Plan a winter themed snack. Begin by having a discussion with your client/loved one to determine whom he/she would like to ask (children, grand-children, friends). Limit the number of guests to 3-4 people so it doesn’t become overwhelming and be specific about arrival and departure times. Arrange for a daylight visit to eliminate any chance of sun downing. Set the date and invite your guests.
2. Consider your menu. How enjoyable to have hot cocoa with mini-marshmallows and a vanilla “snowman” cake. This could be made from a boxed mix – baked in three sizes of aluminum circle tins, pre-made white icing and coconut flakes. Each step to assemble is a wonderful activity in itself. It isn’t only children who enjoy a fun cake.
3. Create a shopping list. When you go to the market have your loved one/client refer back to the list and check off each item as it is placed in the cart.
4. Bake the cake one day in advance. Give it time to cool before assembling. Both of you can frost the cake as well as apply the coconut flakes.
5. The next day set the table. When your guests arrive you can discuss the weather, how cold it is, the snow outside and, how nice to have a snowman that won’t melt.
6. If you have “Alexa” or any other musical device program it to play winter related songs.

Here is an outdoor spring idea for when it has finally become nicer:

1. Plan a picnic. Listen to the weather reports and together select the nicest day. Write the date on your calendar and discuss it often as the chosen day nears.
2. If you want, ask 1-2 friends or family members to join you. If they are coming be specific as to arrival and departure times.
3. Discuss what you would like to eat – simple sandwiches, cookies, juice, fruit. It doesn’t have to be elaborate. It’s the planning, interaction and decision making that is important.
4. Make a list and go to the market. Check off each item as it is placed in the cart.
5. The morning of your picnic, together prepare and pack the food items.
6. Discuss then select the appropriate clothing. Limit choices so it’s not confusing.
7. Go outside and sit on a folding chair in the back yard. You don’t have to go far for a change of scenery.

Judith A. Levy, EdM, OTR, is the author of “Activities to Do with Your Parent Who Has Alzheimer’s Dementia” (Amazon). A graduate of Boston University’s Sargent College with a degree in Occupational Therapy, she also received a Master’s Degree in Allied Health Education from Rutgers University. Mrs. Levy was a practicing occupational therapist specializing in adult rehabilitation for over forty years. For ten years she was the caregiver for her mother who suffered with Alzheimer’s Dementia.