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Relationships change with time and age; it is an inevitable part of growing older. Activities that your loved ones once enjoyed may now hold no interest. They have become more withdrawn and communicating is difficult. Your relationship is not what it used to be and visiting is a burden, however, it doesn’t have to be that way.

About three years before she passed, my Grandma Woodbury started to get dementia. The light that was once in her eyes began to fade, and her laugh that could brighten any room slowly became silent. She went from being the center of attention to being content sitting in the back of the room just observing. It was difficult to watch this spunky, lively woman slowly withdraw and lose her personality. There were, however, a few things that brought back the sparkle in her eye. My grandma loved the movie Sabrina. My family made it a point whenever we visited to watch her favorite movie and for a few hours, we got her back. Taking the time to do your loved one’s favorite activities can make all the difference in your relationship. It will take effort and time to build a relationship with your loved one, but it is worth it. Here are a few tips to help you connect with your loved ones:

Change Your Communication

The way you used to communicate with your loved ones may not be the way they communicate now. Understand that with age, your loved ones’ hearing is diminishing, as well as their sight. Talking from across the room or with the TV on may not be an option. Make eye contact with your loved ones and let them see your face. If they struggle hearing you, lip reading will help them understand what you’re saying and reduce frustration. Communicating with them in a way they understand will bring both of you closer together. When you talk with your loved one through meaningful conversation they can participate in, you will build a deeper relationship with them.

Do Activities Together

Puzzles, Sudoku, crosswords, reading out loud. These are just few ideas you can do with your loved one. With age, the body can no longer do the same activities as it used to. This can be frustrating for seniors because, although their mind may be young and spry, their bodies are not. Take a few visits and experiment with different games to discover what activities your loved one enjoys. It will mean a lot to them to see you sacrificing your time and interests to do what they love.

Here are some more fun ideas for senior activities:

  • Go for a walk
  • Play cards
  • Eating out
  • Make Crafts
  • Play Dominoes
  • Watch movies or go to a musical
  • Go through old photo albums
  • Help them write their life story
  • Bring along a pet when you visit
  • Sing together
  • Go on a drive
  • Have a picnic

Remember to Take Time for Yourself

You’re not doing your loved one any favors if you are burned out when you visit. Feeling emotionally overwhelmed or physically exhausted will diminish your patience and may make for a frustrating visit. Take time for yourself. Whether that is spending time with family, physical exercise, cooking a good meal, or a small vacation, it’s okay to think of yourself. Often, your efforts to provide everything eventually prevent you from being able to provide anything. If you find yourself struggling to manage your own life because you are expending energy caring for a loved one, it’s time to give yourself a break so you can recharge.

At first it may seem overwhelming to build a new relationship with your loved one, but it will be worth it. Not only will it improve their physical and mental health, but it will make them immensely happy to know they are not forgotten.