How to Fill Your Senior’s Mailbox with Love

 

Plan a Christmas Card Signing Party with your Senior!

We’ve been sending Christmas cards for about 145 years. Well, I haven’t personally been sending them that long, but that’s when the first Christmas card originated in the United States. 

Most of the seniors in our lives look forward to getting their mail from the mailbox, finding personal notes and sweet cards from generations of friends. Even now in the electronic communication age, we can all relate with the pleasure of finding personal mail in the mix of bills and solicitations.

Would they love to receive cards (especially in assisted living or a nursing home) and value mailing them out? If your senior is no longer able to send Christmas cards themselves due to dementia or physical limitations, you can help make that happen! Even if your senior doesn’t need help, you’ll enjoy this activity together. 

My senior is independent

Make it a “card party”! Either over zoom or in person . . . put on some holiday music, both of you mix up some hot chocolate with extra whipped cream (I won’t tell if it has peppermint schnapps too). For fun, help them seal, address and stamp the cards. 

Here’s the key—and it works over Zoom too—encourage them to share memories about the people to whom they are sending the cards. Make a point of listening carefully and asking questions. 

My senior needs some help

Show up with:

  1. Cards: This pack of 24 cards has 4 different designs in a traditional style. An alternate is this set of 12 peace dove cards with a general holiday message. 
  2. Stamps: Did you know you can order holiday stamps from Amazon?
  3. A holiday beverage: Starbucks Peppermint Mocha Latte (just add hot water)
  4. Queue up your senior’s favorite festive music on your phone.
  5. Once completed, drop them in the mail for your senior.
My senior needs (a lot of) support

Show up with the supply list from above and maybe choose a 12 card pack so it’s not too tiring for dementia patients. Consider coming with 12 print outs of a favorite poem of your seniors or a special recipe of theirs and include that with the card. 

Add music and a fun drink to the process and it’s a party! Maybe all they do is sign the card and/or lick the envelope, but they are able to send a personal holiday message that will be a sweet gift to those that care about your senior. 

Add some silly and fun . . .

Get a pack of festive Christmas headbands and do a photoshoot for your senior! You can easily print a 4×6” collage photo at your local Walgreens, CVS, etc. in an hour. The photos can be the cover for a set of blank cards (attach the photo with double sided sticky tape) or be slipped inside the card. 

Note: We recommend these products because we think they’re good and we wanted to save you search time. Some of them may earn us a bit when you click on the link.

May you find joy in loving one another well, even if you aren’t wearing a reindeer headband.

Elizabeth Dameron-Drew is the Co-founder and President of Ways & Wane. She walked closely with her own father through his years of waning. She lives near Seattle with her two teenage sons, husband and two rescue dogs. When she’s not working on this platform she’s probably creating books, doing research work or planning a dinner party while listening to the rain and thinking about her next creative endeavor.

Three Sweet Ways to Celebrate Thanksgiving Though Apart

A Thanksgiving like no other. 

How can we gratefully celebrate together, though apart? Many people are foregoing the typical meal with a table full of extended family in the interest of keeping our seniors safe. Let’s seize the opportunity to creatively adapt, not abandon, our traditions. 

Serve up these 3 fresh ideas to create a shared Thanksgiving experience.
  • Enjoy dessert together on Thanksgiving day—over a video call.
      • If a zoom, facetime or a video call on messenger isn’t a possibility, just use a phone on speaker.
  • Eat the same thing so it’s a shared experience.
      • Food & Wine has a list of some amazing bakeries that deliver pies. 
      • Harry & David will deliver a single exquisite pear in a fantastic box.
      • Amazon Fresh can deliver a huge range of options. 
      • How about a wine glass filled with whip cream and topped with sprinkles?
  • Ask fun or thoughtful questions to engage your senior.
      • Consider an app or deck of conversation cards with games like “Have you Ever?” or “Would you Rather?” It’s a simple and fun way to get people to share. If you choose the “Have you Ever” game, you might get some really interesting (yikes!) stories. As though this Thanksgiving isn’t going to be memorable enough. 
      • Ask the traditional “what are you thankful for” question. Who doesn’t need a dose of gratitude.

Thanksgiving ideasFor more yummy tips, check out the full video!

However you celebrate, I hope you express and feel LOVE since that’s all that really matters anyway.

Well, dessert matters too. 

May you find joy in loving one another well.

Elizabeth Dameron-Drew is the President and Co-founder of Ways & Wane. She walked closely with her own father through his years of waning. She lives near Seattle, Washington with her two teenage sons, husband and two rescue dogs. When she’s not working on this platform she’s probably creating books, sewing, or vacuuming, or cooking while listening to the rain and thinking about her next creative endeavor. 

 

Dementia Activities: 5 Fun, No-Fail Projects

Whether your senior is in memory care, a nursing home or at home with you, you know the challenge of finding dementia-friendly activities you both enjoy.

Gardener. Photographer. Former Dentist. 80-Year-Old with Dementia.

A creative perfectionist with a solid sense of humor and a huge heart. 

Loved to keep busy.

Sound like someone you know?

Meet John–our dad. 

When his body and mind prevented him from doing all the things he did before, we dug deep to find worthwhile activities.

Here are 5 wildly satisfying projects we pursued with our dad after his traumatic brain injury. All of them can be enjoyed while sitting and by someone with compromised fine motor and cognitive skills. Download your free guide to 5 Fun Activities for Seniors with Dementia.

  1. Coin sorting

When there’s a lot that cannot be made sense of or organized in one’s mind, sorting coins can be very satisfying. 

  • Senior engagement time = 5-60 min. 
  • Supplies: A pile of various coins. Tray for sorting and rolling coins OR clear plastic cups. Optional: paper sleeves for rolled. Use this if you want all the coin rolling gadgets.
  • Helpful: I kept a plastic container of coins and (when my dad wasn’t looking) kept putting the coins we’d rolled back to resort and roll. 
  1. “No Fail” Watercolor

My dad was frustrated when he couldn’t get the paint color right or would paint outside the lines. These watercolor sheets have picture outlines that come alive with color when they get wet. Once dry, they are reusable. 

  • Senior engagement time = 10-30 min. 
  • Supplies:  Reusable water painting sheets. Water container (low and heavy works well so it’s not tipped over), watercolor paint brush, flat work surface, a few paper towels.
  1. “No Fail” Puzzles

These puzzles are wonderful for people who aren’t successful or even interested in typical  jigsaw puzzles. My dad would match them and his roommate would just stack matching pieces on top of one another. My son made his own designs. 

  • Senior engagement time = 10-30 min. 
  • Supplies: Puzzle, flat work surface.

I’ll never forget the look of pleasure on my dad’s face when he dug his hands into the potting soil. He loved to garden and working with the dirt and plants, even in this simple project, was very rewarding for him.

John potting some flowers after he experienced a traumatic brain injury.
  1. Potted Gardening

I’ll never forget the look of pleasure on my dad’s face when he dug his hands into the potting soil. He loved to garden and working with the dirt and plants, even in this simple project, was very rewarding for him. 

  • Senior engagement time = 30-60 min. 
  • Supplies: Large garbage bag or tarp (to cover flat work surface), a few small plants to and new pot(s) to transplant them into, extra potting dirt, spade shovel, small pitcher filled with water. This mini indoor gardening set and carrier provides simple tools and easy clean up. Optional: gardening gloves, apron.
  1. Pasta Making 

My son helped my dad feed the rolled/flattened dough through the press while my dad cranked the handle. It was a great group project with the satisfaction of getting to eat fresh pasta afterwards. If you don’t have a crank pasta machine, they aren’t too expensive or perhaps you can borrow one. 

  • Senior engagement time = 1 hr.
  • Supplies: Crank pasta maker, fresh pasta dough (premade pizza dough works too), extra all purpose flour, aprons, cookie sheet (for drying noodles), flat work surface.
  • Helpful: Fresh pasta should be refrigerated and used within a few days.

Save these ideas by downloading your free guide to 5 Fun Activities for Seniors with Dementia.

May you find joy in loving one another well!

Note: We recommend these products because we loved them for our own dad and we wanted to save you time. Some of them may earn us a bit when you click on the link.

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