Are you missing your mom or dad who live in one of our amazing senior living communities in Oregon? Regardless if they live in an assisted living, Memory Care, Residential Care Facility or even an Adult Care Home in Portland, here are my top 10 simple ways you can keep in touch with them. I have to admit, I got so excited about creating this list because this is so up my alley. Being creative on gift giving is one of my five love languages so these came easily for me. And I LOVE surprises too, whether that is giving or receiving…. I love it all. Yes, there is a cat with a tie in my photo, his name is Oliver. Now I am NOT suggesting you ship a cat….He is just for smiles and giggles!!!
Keeping in touch with loved ones in assisted living can be made easy with my 10 ideas. Here are just some of the simple ways to keep connected that I will be talking about including sending a handwritten letter, sending their favorite baked goods, sending flowers or a gift basket from Costco, sending a craft or puzzle from amazon, and ordering their favorite take out and having it delivered.
1. Call, Text, Facetime, or Skype
It seems like more and more seniors today have iphones, and according to Pew Research 42% of seniors own a smart phone and 67% use the internet. I smile when I get funny texts messages from my 95 year old grandmother who has an iphone. She loves using it and brags how she does all her banking from an app on her phone. If your loved one has an iphone, why not try out Facetime or use the app Skype to bring even more connection for them. They will be delighted to see your face and interact with you. You can also use Skype on a tablet or computer as well. Be creative on what may work for you both and don’t give up too quickly on the idea of letting them see your face through technology just because they struggle a little if they are fine with getting better let them. Also if one app or service doesn’t work, try another one! Once your loved one gets comfortable at this mode of conversation, schedule other family members and grand kids to facetime them as well. It’s human nature to love a schedule so see if you can set the family up with times to call that work for your senior and that avoids meals times. If your loved one lives a Independent Senior Living community and is a little more tech savvy, why not try out doing a family zoom meeting.
2. Sending love through a card or letter
What senior wouldn’t love getting a letter or a card. Sending your loved ones a letter may be a little scary since some of us can’t really read our handwriting any more. But the joy and smiles your senior will feel getting a letter from you will out weigh the fear of your writing. Besides if you keep doing this small gesture just think you will improve your writing. You can also employ the grandkids and other family members in on this too. I suggest you also send extra stamps and paper in with your letter along with self addressed envelopes so it’s easy for them to write back. Need some ideas of what to write:
- Ask mom about her favorite memory at school
- Ask dad how he met your mother
- Ask mom if she remembers a favorite meal her mother made for the family.
3. Get her caregivers involved to Plan a visit at her window
It’s true caregivers are under even more pressure today with this Covid19, however nothing has changed the fact that caregivers are very willing to help families connect with their loved ones. They will welcome a call to set up a window visit for you and will make their day too when seeing you all together. So don’t hesitate to call today to set that up. I would also encourage you to take and drop off a treat for the caregivers too.
4. Play games online with your loved one
Whether you prefer cards or board games, it’s easy to now play your favorite games online with each other. Here is a www.arkadium.com that offers a variety of card and board games that you can play with others or on your own. You can also download apps on your phone to play games with others, like Words with Friends. So have fun taking on Scrabble with mom.
5. Send your loved one a Flower Bouquet
I love this idea of sending mom or dad a bouquet of fresh flowers to them at their senior care community. Today I did google search to see what companies are still delivering during Oregon’s “Stay at Home” order and one site I checked out was Costco. When I did a search for the nearest assisted livings near me, I used those zip codes as my delivery example and Costco was about a week out on delivery. If your loved one is being cared for in a Portland memory care they will not allow fresh flowers due to the risk of memory care residents possibly ingesting a part of the bouquet that is poisonous. So even though you can’t send fresh flowers to these seniors you can still send faux flowers. I found several beautiful faux flower bouquets on amazon too. Some senior living communities and even some assisted living communities in Portland have patios. Why not pot up some flowers in patio pots and deliver them to mom or dad. Is she a gardener??? You can buy and plant some tomato plants or even a couple of her favorite veggie plants and deliver those for her as well. And you can always decorate her patio with posters, balloons and flowers. Be creative!!!
6. Bake them their favorite cookie or cook them their favorite meal
I know your probably thinking; why didn’t I think of that. My aunts love packaging bake goods and mailing them to my grandparents, who live in Las Vegas. And you can do the same! Just bake their favorite cookie, muffin or banana bread and when their cooled just wrap them up and package them to send via UPS. How about taking over some homemade chicken soup or their favorite comfort meal. You can either do it yourself or call a courier service deliver.
7. Did someone say take out?
I just love this idea!!! Call up mom and ask her what she is hankering for. Is it Mcdonalds for a cheese burger and fries….don’t forget to ask her about her favorite shake either. I have never personally used any of the take out companies so I had to do a little research myself. I found Grubhub and DoorDash to be the most popular here in the Portland area. The price range for delivery is only around $4-$8 and most restaurants use them. I recommend only calling up ones that are close to the community where your loved one resides. A quick funny story about last year when I was retouring an adult care home. I was reviewing their menus as usual and I saw the calendar read every Thursday the residents loved having Kentucky Fried chicken. I was puzzled because you rarely see take out as an option on a menu. The owner said it was what the residents wanted and they wanted in every week. I loved seeing this kind of personal individualized care. The owner of the ACH went on to say It was the favorite day of the week for the residents.
8. Send a Customized photo album, pillow or blanket
Can you imagine what joy you will bring to your loved one when they receive a package from you with a custom photo album of your family or memories together? You can get these printed pretty much any where but I checked out a couple of places. I liked Costco, Walmart and https://www.shutterfly.com/photo-books.
As a care adviser, I am passionate about what I do and that is why touring care communities with families is part of my simple 3 step process for placement. While serving and guiding a family earlier this year, before the pandemic started, I was out touring an assisted living with one of my families I was guiding and we were all looking at a current resident’s assisted living apartment. On this sweet ladies’ bed was a beautifully custom pillow with her grand-kids’ pictures printed on it. I asked her if I could look at it and she happily obliged. Even up close it was stunning and I could tell it was well made and printed. At Shutterfly you can also do blankets and other customization gifts that any senior would love receiving. So go check them out!
9. Hang up a bird or squirrel feeder
Who doesn’t love seeing birds feeding outside of your patio or window here in Oregon. Although their are no visitors allowed due to Covid19 to keep seniors safe in assisted living communities, no one said furry visitors in nature can’t visit. Regardless if your loved one lives on the ground floor or one of the upper floors of their assisted living communities you can easily install a bird or squirrel feeder for your loved ones enjoyment. There are so many options to choose from. Such as if your mom lives in an adult care home in Portland you can install a stake in the ground with a hook and a feeder outside their window. If your loved one is on the second floor of an assisted living you can install a bird feeder with suction cups to the outside of the window. I recommend calling ahead and letting the community know of your plans. I also recommend doing a suet block because they last longer which means less maintenance and makes less of a mess.
10. Sending a special gift in the mail
Oh the possibilities on what you can send to your loved one is endless. What about a new puzzle for your mom to do or your dad’s favorite smoked salmon. You can start a book club for your mom and some of the other ladies near her. Just order off Amazon the book of your choosing and a couple more for her neighbors. When they arrive at her apartment let the care staff know and they will pass them out with instructions to the ones who wanted to participate. This will give your mom and some other seniors a sense of exclusiveness with each other. You can order a new craft project for her to do or order a new pattern to crochet and some yarn to go with it. What about a paint by numbers project…you didn’t know these existed still did you? You can order her a new adult coloring book and even some fresh new sharpened pencils or markers. That might bring back some childhood memories as she colors away the time in isolation. Be creative and remember you can make this gift giving a habit. She will enjoy these sweet little surprises until she can hug you again. What about sending dad his favorite murder mystery, war novel or western to enjoy. Make sure and share this will other friends and family struggling to come up with ideas to love on their loved ones isolated in assisted living.
In these tough times sometimes the best way to get through the day is by knowing your doing something to comfort others. So whether you take a poster you drew up with “I love YOU mom” and tape it to the outside of her window, to let her know your thinking and missing her, or you decide to surprise her with her favorite take out. Remember, we will get through this together!!! Also just a reminder I am here for you. If you have questions concerning assisted living, adult care homes or even independent senior living I am here to guide you. My services are at no cost to you. Even more in these uncertain time with Covid19 you need a guide to walk with you with changes that happen all most weekly. I will help you navigate these uncertain times so that making the best choice for your loved one comes easier for you.
Call me today to get started. 503.548.7312