How Do We Have Fun With Mom When It's Colder?
"We’ve been able to take my mom on many outings this summer. She’s a new resident in an assisted living, though with her wheelchair we’ve been able to pack her up and take her out with some regularity. We took Mom to State Fair, on paved walking trails, to Summerfest, and to several family gatherings.
It’s not an easy thing to do, however. She moves slowly, and getting in and out of the car is quite a slow process, not to mention hoisting the wheelchair into the trunk. But we manage to do it, and she loves the little trips to new places.
With fall and winter coming, there are fewer places to take Mom. I wonder if cutting back is going to be hard for her. She seems so isolated, living in a single room around others who are not too social around her. I don’t want her to become depressed in her new situation.
What suggestions do you have to help us and Mom ease into fall and winter?"
Summer indeed is wonderful in the north, with so many things to do outdoors. The thought of the upcoming colder months can be downright depressing.
A new resident in an assisted living does have quite a bit of adjusting to do. You are very wise to recognize this and continue with outings new and familiar to lift your mom’s spirits. Activities make life interesting for her and give her something to remember and share with others. What you’re doing is wonderful!
Fall will bring on challenges with the colder weather. While there are still some outdoor events that you can participate in during September and early October on warmer days, it’s time to start thinking about different opportunities.
Start by finding out what the assisted living residence offers in the form of entertainment. They all plan some activities. By no means am I suggesting that you pull back the frequency of your plans with your mother. I just recommend that you complement what activities you’re doing with events where she lives.
It’s time to explore some indoor activities your mother may enjoy just as much as the fun things you did together this summer. If your home or that of a sibling is accessible, she can participate in numerous family events such as birthdays, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and other holiday celebrations. Not just attending, but planning can also be fun. Assign your mother some tasks that are within her abilities. It could be invitations, or picking out Halloween candy at the store or online, or planning a game or two.
It does require a little bit of effort to engage someone with limitations, but there are significant rewards. First, you’ll have positively impacted your mother’s happiness by keeping her involved in the present and the future. The second benefit is yours. You can be proud, knowing what you’ve done. Not only will you feel satisfaction, but those who care for your mother in the assisted living will see an engaged family that has not just placed her and then abandoned. Nearness matters.
You clearly are thoughtful and anticipatory. Your mother could not ask for more in a child. Fall and winter are challenging, but with some creativity, you can transfer fun to the indoors for her and your family.
I hope you enjoy many more seasons with mom.
Family Caregiving Advice Column
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