Entering a residential aged care home can be daunting at the best of times. Leaving your home and lifestyle behind to enter a care home where everything is new and strange is an emotional rollercoaster that more often than not leaves some to feel isolated and cut off from friends, families and loved ones.
In aged care, social isolation is an increasing issue which when left untreated can lead to mental health and wellbeing risks such as depression and anxiety. As we are now in an age where we are living longer, our times spent requiring aged care assistance and living is increasing, meaning we are spending more time in our older years in conditions of isolation and disconnectedness.
If your loved one is a part of an aged care community, it is important to reach out and maintain a sense of family and belonging and set up a routine where they can look forward to regular visits or phone calls. One such activity (as an example) is a family fun day, where you can invite the entire family to come and visit where you can reconnect with updates on your family's activities, their lives and keep your loved one involved and included.
5 ideas you can use for your family fun day
Start with food - Food brings many families of all backgrounds together. Organise a lunch or dinner where you can all sit around a table to engage in conversation and stories.
Share an Experience - Bringing in an activity that you can all be part of is a great way to be on the same level and be inclusive with your loved one. A board or card game, a movie night, cook or bake something together or a craft activity is something any age can be involved in.
Go Exploring - Take your loved one on an excursion with the family. Making the effort to bring them with you on an outing is a thoughtful and mentally stimulating experience. Going on a picnic in the park, a trip to the zoo, a stroll along the harbour or beach, the options are endless! Remember to organise with your home to ensure these excursions are booked in so the staff are aware they'll be off-site for the day and are safe and sound with family.
Develop a Skill - Being elderly doesn't mean you cease learning. Keeping mentally active is a healthy and important thing to assist with delaying dementia and cognitive decline as we age. Having your loved one join you for a class learning a skill can be a great joint activity with your family, whether that be knitting/sewing, photography, painting, language or more, there are endless possibilities when it comes to learning a new skill. Learning one together can be a great bonding experience!
See a show - Taking your loved one to see some entertainment that they're interested in is a great way to bring joy in a family outing. Were they a fan of the ballet in their younger years? A comedy show? Perhaps even some more theatre-esque forms of entertainment can be a great idea for your loved one to enjoy. Again, remember to inform staff of the outing and book it in so they're aware they're offsite with someone safe.
Being elderly shouldn't mean you're entering the time of loneliness and rolelessness. Bringing connectedness back into their days with inclusivity and thoughtfulness of their feelings is incredibly important, especially during such a trying time of acclimatising to a new aged care home.
Turn your family fun days into a routine where they can experience these events on a regular weekly or monthly basis, which is something they can plan for and look forward to.
What activities would you plan for your family fun day?