Garden Court on De La Vina Offers Communication Advice to Ensure the Well-Being of Seniors During The Holidays
Santa Barbara, CA, December 1, 2014—The holidays are generally full of warm meals, festivities and quality time with family, but for several seniors, the holidays can be a lonely time. Many may have lost a spouse, friends or live alone far away from family members. This holiday season, Garden Court on De La Vina, an independent living community, encourages community members to spend time with their elderly loved ones and other seniors who may not have family close by. Just a short visit during the holiday season can make seniors feel appreciated, involved, and less lonely.
To kick-off the holidays, senior residents at Garden Court on De La Vina invite the community to celebrate the season at their 14th annual Holiday Boutique and Open House on Tuesday, December 9th from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Garden Court on De La Vina at 1116 De La Vina Street. The evening will include music from the Inner Light Gospel Choir and Ron Paris from the Platters, a chocolate fountain, holiday-themed crafts and a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus.
This celebration will serve as a perfect opportunity to connect with elderly friends and relatives and will enable seniors whose families cannot attend to engage in important social interaction. Social interaction among seniors lowers the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, cardiovascular problems and depression. It also helps to keep their brains active and healthy.
Though spending time with seniors is a meaningful experience, it can be stressful for some people. Garden Court has collected tips for re-engaging with elderly relatives and spending time with seniors to ensure a successful and healthy visit.
“At Garden Court, we put a priority on safety and health, and on supporting relationships between our seniors and their families,” said Chris Tucker, Executive Director of Garden Court on De La Vina. “We hope that in sharing some of these tips, we can also help other families with aging loved ones communicate effectively.”
1)During the visit, put all your electronics away. That means no TV, cell phones, MP3 players, computers or video games when you’re trying to have a conversation. This makes seniors feel listened-to and important, and it helps you focus on them.
2)Be respectful and don’t treat them like children. Remember and appreciate the full and productive lives they’ve had. Understand that they are aging and that they may repeat the same stories to us. It’s important to them to share with you. If you want to steer the conversation in a different direction, Garden Court recommends playing some easy games, like “Two Truths and a Lie,” and “Have You Ever.” They make great conversation starters!
3)Create special moments with the seniors. Have them share their favorite holiday recipes and make the dishes or treats together. While you’re cooking/baking, you can inquire about the origin of the recipe or ask them about their favorite holiday traditions.
4)If it is time to have a difficult conversation, such as asking a parent to stop driving, move to assisted living or move in with you, emphasize how the change would help you and help them maintain their dignity. “You would be helping me and Tom feel less worried” works better than “We’re taking the keys away RIGHT NOW” or “You’re moving next week and we already have a community picked out.” Dramatic confrontations can make seniors feel fearful or confused, and that they’ve lost control of their lives.
About Garden Court on De La Vina
Garden Court provides service enhanced independent living for frail, low-income Santa Barbara seniors to live independently for as long as possible. Many of Garden Court’s 97 seniors, 62 years of age or older, are long-time Santa Barbara area residents who worked all their lives serving the Santa Barbara community as laborers, nurses, business owners and teachers. These residents are spending their golden years as an active part of the community they helped to shape and tend. Garden Court is a public-private partnership through the Housing Authority of the City of Santa Barbara and Parsons Group. For more information, visit www.gardencourt.org.