Senior-Friendly Technology to Connect to Family and Friends at Any Age

Loneliness is a real problem among older adults. Senior-friendly technology trends to help you stay engaged and active at any age.

Winter Weather Safety Tips For Aging Adults

Here are a few suggestions on how to keep yourself and your loved ones safe in cold weather.

3 Easy and Sweet Valentine’s Day Crafts

Here are 3 fun and simple Valentine-themed crafts to make memories with family, friends, or yourself! Hershey Kisses, Fruit Kabobs, and Bingo!

Planning Your Holidays Together Apart

The holidays are near and that means it’s time to plan our celebrations. Unfortunately, with the pandemic in full swing, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, and New Year’s will look a bit different than in times past. Although the CDC has released guidelines on having a safe holiday, even the strongest precautions may not protect the most vulnerable population. If you are looking to celebrate with friends and family without bringing everyone into close contact, the following tips can help you enjoy your holidays together apart.

Decorate Your Home

Get yourself in the holiday spirit by decorating. Seasonal decor may include anything from miniature pumpkins to a homemade centerpiece made of ornaments and tinsel. If you have a fireplace, focus on it, and don’t be afraid to change out your kitchen towels and potholders to reflect the current holiday.

Go Virtual

Once your home is decorated, choose a spot to host a virtual holiday. Zoom is an excellent platform to get everyone together, and, as the host, you’ll have more control when Uncle Jimmy starts regaling you with tall tales from his glory days. Set your webcam up in a spot that showcases the best of your holiday decorations, and send out an invite weeks in advance.

If you are not set up with all of the technology you need, now is about the best time to buy a new laptop or tablet to get the job done. There are countless deals online, so you’re likely to score a great discount on a new device when you search for it. As an added bonus, the kids can use it if and when they go back to virtual school. Don’t forget to get inexpensive computer speakers so that you can hear everyone at your online party.

Two additional pieces of equipment to make your virtual celebration a success are a projector screen and a good long-range microphone. A microphone will ensure everyone in your household can be heard, while a well-reviewed projector will give you lifelike visuals of mom and dad. Before you invest in either, make sure they have the features you want, such as high resolution and the right ports to connect to the rest of your setup.

Other Ideas:

  • Watch movies and TV online together using the Watch Netflix Together
  • Send holiday gift baskets from Harry & David, Russell Stover, or your favorite online retailer.
  • Pack a care package with seasonal/regional flavors from your hometown to send to those who are far away. Do not forget to ship a box to your friends in uniform serving overseas.

If You Decide To Travel

Although most of us will stick closer to home this holiday season, if you do choose to travel, do so safely. Basic guidance from the Centers for Disease Control says to avoid close contacts, wear a mask, and wash your hands often. When running water and soap are not available, use hand sanitizer and — perhaps most importantly — do not touch your mouth, nose, or eyes.

The holidays will undeniably look different this year than in seasons past. But avoiding large gatherings, especially if you have immunocompromised or elderly family members, will help ensure everyone’s health and safety. The above tips can help you have the best holiday possible. The final piece of advice: keep an open mind and a positive attitude, no matter what the holidays bring.

By Emma Grace Brown

Image via Pexels

Late November

Before sunrise field stalks dry into light.
Their color takes golden glows of harvest to wind.
Questions asked in summer
are now puzzles
Of Autumn resolved in the tart apple savoring.
All has slowed.

Leaves hug earth and stones cool.
Yet, we rejoice.
We remember in this starkness that
It takes time to know the gift.
It takes time to remember our heart’s passages—
People close,
Labyrinths circling
As juices of quince tumble
Moist cranberry steam.

Thanksgiving now.

Aileen Callahan

3 Easy Pumpkin Crafts for Halloween and Thanksgiving

Here are three fun and easy craft projects to do by yourself, with friends, or while visiting with the grandkids.

CONFESSIONS OF A PLATE ADDICT No-Sew Shirt Pumpkins

Easy No-Sew Shirt Pumpkins

Just check the closet or some local thrift shops for shirts in fall colors and stripes or patterns. With a little stuffing, burlap, and twine, you can transform some old duds into new cute pumpkins decorations for Halloween or Thanksgiving. It’s a great alternative to carving pumpkins!

Check out this site for a list of items you’ll need and directions with detailed pictures: https://sewlicioushomedecor.com/free-easy-sew-and-no-sew-fabric-pumpkin-tutorials/


fallversionPumpkins from Toilet Paper Rolls

So easy, inexpensive, and fast! Perfect for younger children. Takes only 5 minutes, boasts the author of this craft.

Essentially, you wrap a couple of plastic bags around and then tuck into the center of the toilet paper roll to give the ‘pumpkin’ some shape.

Then you wrap, pleat, and tuck some fabric and secure with a stick. A great way to keep some extra tissue on supply in the bath for guests, too!

Full instructions here: https://tinyurl.com/y4gm2sxx


3D Paper Pumpkin

Lastly, here’s a fun video that will show you have to create a 3D paper pumpkin with just some paper strips, glue, and pipe cleaners. It’s a great project to learn and teach the younger generations.

Whatever you do, we hope you have a very Happy (and safe) Halloween!!

How to Talk to a Loved One about Moving to Assisted Living

Talking to a loved one about moving to a community is usually a dreaded and difficult conversation. Ignoring the subject or being afraid of your loved one’s reaction and response is normal. However, if you are noticing cognitive changes in your loved one, it’s important to raise the subject before a crisis occurs. Once a crisis develops, you will find yourself and your family frantically searching for the right community for your loved one within a very short time frame. Thinking and speaking about long-term care needs with your loved one sooner rather than later may lead to a more collaborative discussion and hopefully avoid anger, fear, and accusations.

  1. Notice and track the changes.  If you start to see cognitive changes in a loved one, it’s time to pay attention. Consider keeping a journal with specific dates, times, and what happened.  Ask neighbors, family members, and friends if they have noticed anything. Often it’s someone else who will notice a change first but will be hesitant to say anything.
  2. Consider other conditions that might be causing dementia symptoms. Many physical conditions mimic dementia but are treatable, including urinary tract infections, diabetes, low blood sugar, vitamin deficiencies, thyroid issues, medication changes, depression, anxiety, and more. Engage your loved one’s primary care physician. Even if they can’t speak with you because of HIPAA, you can always speak with them. A good doctor will listen.
  3. Do some research.  What kind of help do you think your loved one needs? Medications? Cooking? Bathing? Do some research into the different types of care possible – independent care, assisted living, memory care, and in-home care. It’s possible with a few hours of in-home care your loved one can function in their own home longer.
  4. Step into your loved one’s shoes. Empathy is vital to success. Think about how your loved one is going to feel when you bring this topic up. Sadness, anxiety, fear, and anger are common reactions of a loved one. Remember there may be a feeling of grief for them – they are thinking about giving up their “home”, independence, and way of life.  While they may be in denial, it could also be their dementia getting in the way of understanding what is happening to them. And above all, remember they are not children. They are not only your parent or spouse – they are adults who have lived a very rich life which needs to be honored.
  5. Reach out for support. If at all possible, get your family on board. Family tension often rises with a dementia diagnosis of a loved one. Ideally, you want to all be on the same team. At this point, you should think if there is an unbiased third party that your loved one respects and will listen to. Often another person such as a doctor, clergy or close friend can help with the conversation and in some cases may be the best one to have the conversation with your loved one instead of you.
  6. Practice your language.  Role-play what you will say – don’t use words such as “nursing home” or “facility”. Instead, say “assisted living” and “community”. Be honest and thoughtful. Pay attention to your tone and body language. Use a calm and pleasant voice, and try to maintain one even though your loved one may become angry.  One of the goals is to discuss the issues and solve them as a team. And remember – it’s critical to validate how they are feeling about this conversation and a potential move.
  7. Decide where and when to have the conversation. Think about the day, time, and place that will work best for your loved one. Make sure neither one of you is in a hurry. Have this conversation at a time of day when your loved one is most alert. This should be a one-to-one conversation, or you can include the person you identified in step 5 above.  Too many people may make your loved one even more confused and defensive.
  8. Begin the conversation.  Try not to show anxiety – take 10 seconds and breathe deep. Begin by asking how they’ve been feeling. Have they noticed any changes? Are they worried about anything? This is when your log from step one will be useful. While it’s ok to give specific instances, don’t be accusing.
  9. Offer to go to the doctor with the person. Tell your loved one:
    • There are physical issues that can cause these symptoms that be treated.
    • Knowing now can help your loved one and you plan.
    • Seeing the doctor would help both of you with peace of mind.
  10. Recognize that this will take multiple conversations. Don’t dismiss the cognitive changes because the conversation was difficult or didn’t appear effective. You are asking your loved one to commit to a large disruption in their lives. They will need time to digest it.  Take the time between conversations to think about what went well, what didn’t, and plan for different approaches.

By Lisa Walts, MSW, LICSW – Social Worker at Cadbury Commons

Learn more about Cadbury Commons’ Community.

Ruminations For The Old-Old

Salmon struggle upstream, spawn, and die.
Mission accomplished.
We deliver pristine helpless infants
And life goes on.
Raising them to maturity
Working to retirement and beyond
As the miles accumulate on the odometer.

Parts persist beyond their warranty and need to be repaired
Or replaced if they are available.
Many mechanics and garages have fought
To contain the inexorable force of entropy.
We have become the “old-old”.
And come face to face with the end of life.
If wise, we have wills, medical proxies.
If not, we should.

But the key issue is not how to die. That’s easy.
The work of a moment. Everyone does it.
But how to live. How to justify our continued existence?
Nurture our family and friends
Share our strengths and comfort with them
Make new friends, don’t withdraw
Do things we never had time for or never thought of before.
Relish our days, even without our old mustard.

And consider, whatever happens, the earth will continue its orbit
Stars will still be created and die in infinite space.
Be proud of our attempts to understand and
Humbled by our insignificant role in the universe.
Be serene and accepting.

By Tom L.
Resident of Cadbury Commons

Seniors Staying Fit While Staying Safe with Virtual Exercise Classes

Boston area senior centers and local teachers have been offering online fitness classes for several months now, and it’s helping those most at risk during the pandemic. Seniors will find plenty of offerings, too: from meditation or yoga to Zumba strength training.

Even those some gyms and community centers may be opening back up, seniors who are still concerned about their vulnerability are opting to exercise from home. Here’s a list of live classes, videos, and resources from local teachers and groups.

NOTE: Schedules and availability subject to change. Be sure to check to verify offerings!

Boston Area Senior Centers

The Newton Senior Center

Virtual Class: Zumba with Ketty Rosenfeld
Time: Virtual Weekday at 11 a.m.
Cost: Donation Suggested
To Participate:
Download the Zoom application and email [email protected] to receive an access link.
Videos: Tai chi, muscle conditioning, and arthritis exercises at www.newtonseniors.org.

Milford Senior Center Weekly Fitness program

Virtual Classes: line dancing, strength and stretch, yoga, and more.
Instructors: Certified local fitness instructors
Time: 10:30 a.m. every weekday
To Participate:
Milford TV streams an exercise class on its channel and at milfordtv.net.

Chelsea Senior Center

Videos: warm-up, some cardiovascular drills, and strength training
Instructor: Karen Brannon
To Participate: Search Chelsea Senior Center on YouTube.

Hopkinton Senior Center

Virtual Classes: Tap, barre, bootcamp, and Zumba, chair yoga (Mon & Thurs)
Instructors: Rebecca Tredeau and Crystal Lee
Time: 2 PM weekdays
To Participate:
Contact assistant director Ashley Shaheen at [email protected] for more details, or connect with Tredeau directly through her Facebook group, Zoom-Fitness Classes LIVE with Rebecca!

Fenway Community Center

Virtual Classes: biweekly meditation, movement, and yoga
To Participate:
Requires a Gmail account. Access links are published on the updated calendar online. Visit fenwaycommunitycenter.org/calendar.

YMCA 360

Videos: series of taped classes on low-impact exercises for active older adults. Each of the six 20-30 minute programs focuses on weights, chair yoga, core strength, and more.
To Participate: visit ymca360.org.

The Malden Senior Center

Videos:  The center uploads a fitness video from local instructor Aimee Borda on its Facebook page each week.
To Participate: visit www.facebook.com/MaldenSeniorCommunityCenter.

Cambridge Council on Aging

Virtual Classes:  Yoga and Zumba, for Cambridge senior residents.
To Participate: call the COA at 617-349-6220 for information on how to sign up.

Autumn 2020 Expressive Arts