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Tracy Visits Blog

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Tracy Visits is passionate about keeping your loved ones mentally engaged with each caring and compassionate visit.  Please read the 5 reasons below on the importance of keeping our loved ones socially active. 


Seniors with dementia are at a higher risk of social isolation and depression if they don't have the support of loved ones. According to the Alzheimer's Association, research has shown that people who are regularly engaged in social interactions and activities are also better able to maintain healthy cognitive functions. If you have elderly relatives who have been diagnosed with dementia, here are five reasons to ensure that they stay active and social.

1. Loneliness has been linked to cognitive decline.
Research has found links between cognitive impairment and loneliness. According to AARP, one recent study by researchers at Southern California Kaiser Permanente Medical Group found that people who have more support in their lives have a lower chance of developing memory-loss symptoms. The study surveyed 2,249 elderly women over the course of four years, focusing on the amount of social support they had on a day-to-day basis. The results showed that those who had larger social networks were 26 percent less likely to develop dementia than the participants with smaller social circles. 

"If you stay connected, you have a better shot [at avoiding cognitive decline]," said Valerie Crooks, clinical trials administrative director at Southern California Kaiser Permanente Medical Group and lead author of the study. "Whenever we have even the most basic exchange, we have to think about how to respond, and that stimulates the brain. There are people who are outliers, who have two very close relationships and are fine cognitively. But people who have three or more relationships tend to do better."

2. Mental stimulation can have physical benefits.
Social interactions often lead to many additional healthily lifestyle changes. For example, the University of Rochester Medical Center explained that increased social activity among seniors has the potential to lower blood pressure and reduce their risk of cardiovascular problems and various forms of arthritis. This is usually because those who are socially engaged are also more physically active and are more likely to maintain a nutritious diet. Social activities can also help people reduce stress and anxiety, which is what ultimately leads to lower blood pressure levels.

3. Being social helps seniors avoid mental health conditions.
People who are frequently engaged in activities with friends or family, or who have someone reliable to talk to often have a more positive outlook than those who don't. Participating in hobbies and activities with others can also help them find pleasure in life when things get difficult. The Alzheimer's Society noted that remaining socially active may improve sleep quality as well. This is important, as getting a good night's rest is key to avoiding conditions like depression and anxiety, which people with dementia tend to be more vulnerable to. 

4. Social support helps seniors maintain their independence.
Social isolation frequently leads to depression and a myriad of other mental health issues like anxiety that increase the amount of extra support seniors need. The Alzheimer's Society explained that when people don't have the opportunity to express their feelings and emotions to others, this results in frustration that may cause further alienation from friends and family. Being surrounded by friends and individuals they can trust increases self confidence and sense of purpose. This is why many people experiencing memory loss move to a dementia care community where they have the full-time support of a caregiver and the opportunity to partake in a variety of events and social gatherings on a daily basis.

5. It can be beneficial to communicate through activities.
The Alzheimer's Society pointed out that it's not uncommon for people in the later stages of dementia to show a behavior or need through an action. For example, they may tap or move their feet across the floor for a number of reasons, whether this means they're frustrated or excited. If this is the case, talk to them while playing music or dancing. This will encourage self expression and can be very soothing for them if they were upset. They'll also benefit from the communication if you talk to them frequently while doing daily tasks like sweeping or cooking. Although they may not respond, listening and interpreting what you're saying will stimulate the brain.

Time With Loved Ones

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Simply spending time together is one of the greatest gifts for elderly. It can be quiet time such as watching nature together or can be time out in the community; whichever suits you or your loved one better.

The key is finding something that suits your aging loved ones best. If you're busy, it is also important to tap into their interests, but in a way that meets your busy schedule.

If hearing is an issue, sometimes being in noisy places like the mall or in restaurants can be difficult and even upsetting for a person.

You might also consider how you spend time together if mobility is an issue. If your aging loved ones would like to walk more, but feels unsafe outside, sometimes a trip to the mall or a community arena will provide a safer place to walk.

On the other hand, if they have difficulty walking and are nervous, being in a high traffic area might not be the best.

Here are some suggestions of gifts for elderly that involve spending time together. Use your imagination and add more to your own list!

Sitting Quiet Time
  • Scrapbooking
  • Looking at family albums
  • Looking at picture books
  • Going for coffee
  • Feeding birds together
  • Going for drives
  • Going back to places they loved
  • Re-reading old letters
  • Outdoor time
  • Sitting on a bench in a local park
  • Sitting outside and enjoying the sunshine
  • Going for a walk
  • Picking flowers of the season
  • Watching kids play in the park or on the beach
  • Sitting and watching the clouds go by 

Community Events
  • Concert
  • Movie
  • Sporting event
  • Museum
  • Pancake breakfast
  • Church
  • Parades
  • Fall fair
  • City/town festival

Spending Time Combined With Function:
  • Cooking meals together: can be adapted so that if you're loved one is no longer able to cook complete meals, you can have them help with small tasks
  • Making a grocery list
  • Grocery shopping
  • Attending appointments, you can always fit in a coffee to make it more enjoyable if your aging parent is not too tired

10 reasons why you need to talk with an elderly person

I love old people

Conventionally, “elderly” has been defined as a chronological age of 65 years old or older, while those from 65 through 74 years old are referred to as “early elderly” and those over 75 years old as “late elderly.” Whatever age someone qualifies as elderly (or old, or aged, or senior), is irrelevant to this hub. The people referred to as elderly herein are those who have advanced in years well beyond ourselves and so by spending time with them, we are able to learn about them and from them.

I love old people. I think they are some of the coolest dudes and dudettes on the planet. They intrigue me, fascinate me, amuse me and teach me whenever I am around them. From my experience interacting with the elderly, I have come up with 10 reasons why every person should spend time talking with older people.

1. To learn patience
Old people are slower than young people. That’s just the way it is. They move slower, think slower and talk slower. Their ability to transfer their thoughts into actions and words takes longer. So why use up your valuable, busy time with them? By waiting for the elderly person to say what it is they want to say, you learn the lost art of patience. We live in such a fast paced world. We expect the answer to our question as fast as we can click a mouse. We expect our hot food as quick as the microwave can warm it and even then we stand watching the numbers count down asking ourselves why it's taking so long.

We are in desperate need of patience today. We need to learn to stop and smell the roses. We need to rediscover the lost art of meaningful communication, no matter how long the person takes to speak. The elderly are always patient. They are never in a rush but they can sense when others are. The challenge when talking with an elderly person is to genuinely want to be with them at that time and for as long as is necessary to make them feel loved and wanted. Old people ooze patience and grace as they put up with the rudeness of the younger generations. We could take a leaf out of their book.

2. To hear their stories
You don’t get to be a senior citizen without encountering some amazing life stories along the way. We will spend copious amounts of money to watch movies that tell stories that are not any better than the real life adventures these elderly folk have lived through. Get any older veteran to start telling tales of WW2 and you will see the memories flooding his expressions as he re-lives each moment again whilst relating it to you. I had a great time listening to an old Canadian air force pilot from the war the other day who told me about how he had been forced to land in England, separated from all his squadron. He spent the next three years of the war living and fighting with the RAF out of Britain and told story after story about their exploits together. Then there’s the tales of how they survived with rations and would chew the tar off the roads like it was chewing gum.

Just ask an elderly person about their childhood, sit back and enjoy, for free, some of the greatest true stories ever told.

Laughter will extend your life

3. To help them live longer
It has been proven that laughter relieves stress and less stress increases length of life. There is nothing as heart warming as seeing an elderly lady with tears of laughter in her eyes. When I was a police officer, I befriended an elderly lady in the town where I worked. I had initially been called to her home because she had fallen, but we soon developed a close friendship and I would visit her every week, sometimes on duty and sometimes off. I remember the first time I took my wife with me to visit, and old Lucy would tease me about how I couldn’t possibly have a wife because she herself was my true love. We would laugh and joke around with each other. Whenever I entered her room she would be sitting crouched over sleeping, but by the time I left, her eyes were alive, she was radiant, and full of vim and vigor. Even after I had been posted elsewhere, I visited when I could, and Lucy’s daughter actually called me to let me know when her mother passed away so I could attend the funeral.

There is a tendency to look at old people as miserable because their faces have sagged, but the truth is that on the inside they still feel 20 years old and want to laugh. Go ahead, laugh with them and you will end up with the opportunity to laugh with them longer than you even expected.

4. To avoid regrets
Too many people are left standing at the graveside of an elderly loved one and wishing they had only spent more time with that person. Oh, we all have legitimate reasons for not stopping by and spending an afternoon with Nanna, but after they are gone those missed times cannot be regained. Don’t be a person that lives with regrets. Make it a point to schedule time to visit your elderly relatives, or maybe even just some of the older folks on your street. They will love the company and the investment, and the truth is that you will too. Don’t put off to tomorrow what you can do today, because for the elderly, the tomorrows are vanishing faster then you realize.

5. It helps to keep them mentally agile
If old people spend all their time around other old people, or worse, with no visitors at all, their minds will shut down. It is important that they are stimulated mentally. Regular visits and conversation that causes them to remember, analyze and compute things, helps to keep them alert and in turn alive longer. A muscle that is never used will atrophy and in the same way their unused brain will wither much faster. It is a beautiful cycle – spending more time with them causes them to use their mind more which causes them to live longer which enables you to spend more time with them. Get the idea?

More old people than you realize want to embrace technology

6. To help them with technology
My own parents, who are in their 70’s, have embraced the technological age, being competent enough to surf the web and send emails. My dad can even attach a picture now! My in-laws on the other hand, are completely computer illiterate. I have offered to help them get familiar with the basics of a computer but they aren’t interested. There are elderly folks that could benefit tremendously from being able to use the internet to communicate, read and enjoy all it has to offer. Never assume that because someone is older they have no interest in technology. We will reach the point when all elderly people will have grown up with the internet. However, even then, technology will still be advancing at lightning speed so the older folk will need to be educated about the use of “thought messaging” or “tele-transportation” or whatever the human mind has come up with. Helping an old person with technology will test my 1st point about patience to its limits, but does that mean we shouldn’t do it? Never. Again, think about the benefits for the elderly person and help them program your number into their speed dial so they can call you at 4 am in the morning when they wake up!

7. To learn from their wisdom and experience
Solomon said that there is nothing new under the sun and that is actually a true statement in the eyes of an elderly person. They may see new fads and new technology come along, but they will tell you that it is usually just an old idea that has been re-packaged. They will relate everything to simple principles. You may be having a disagreement with your neighbor over his dog leaving packages on your lawn, but an elderly person will not be thinking so much about the packages but about the relationship you have with your neighbor that might last for years. They will always talk to you about what you need to do in the situation and not what the other person should do. You see, old people grew up being responsible for their own actions. They would admit if they were wrong and suffer the consequences. Nowadays, people always want to blame someone else. That is not wise. My Grandad would always tell me that you can only change one person in a situation and that is yourself. He was a wise man. He also taught me to hold a wine bottle by the neck and a woman by the waist, and not to get the two mixed up!

8. To learn to think outside yourself
We are an inherently selfish people and, with some notable exceptions, tend to think more about ourselves than others. That may serve well for a short while but ultimately it will lead to the breakdown of society. It is said that no man is an island, so we need others. We need the interaction of a variety of people, including our older relatives. If we were to stop inspecting our own navels for a bit and look at the elderly people around us who are lonely, confused and scared, we might learn to be able to give a little bit of ourselves away, and grow in the process. I challenge you to go out of your way to force yourself to invest some of your precious time with an elderly relative. Spend that time thinking about how you can encourage them. Do it all for their good and not your own. You will be surprised just how much joy you will get out of it if you attack it with the right attitude. Invest in them, and when you are elderly yourself, maybe someone will invest in you.

Beige is the new black

9. To learn to wear beige
This one is a little light-hearted, but take a look at the clothes that teenagers wear and you will see that variety is the spice of life with regards to styles and colours. Check out the middle aged and although they may not be “fashionable” they still embrace different colours. Yet, when a person (specifically a male person) reaches the status of elderly, he more often than not will dress from head to toe in beige. Now, there may be a variety of beige. For example, he may have tan shoes, khaki pants, a cream coloured sweater and fawn shirt, but the predominant colour swatch is that of a walking sandstorm. So why wear beige? My conclusion is in three parts:

It blends effortlessly with their white hair. Bright colours would clash with the snowy top.
Beige is notoriously good for hiding blemishes, such as dribbles or other less pleasant accidents.
It is a neutral colour, and because a lot of older people feel worthless (due to lack of respect from younger people), they would rather not stand out from the crowd and be ridiculed.
10. To appreciate what they went through
By listening to an elderly person’s stories of the hardships they went through over the years, you grow to appreciate just how good your life is. Listen to them tell about what it was like to lose close friends in the bombings in WW2 or how the rations were shared out amongst the whole family, or how 6 siblings shared one bed in a small room. Listen to the stories of getting up in the early hours to trudge off to the factory to earn a meager living and then walk home to go to their other job just to make ends meet. Listen to the sacrifices they made so their children could succeed. Listen to the grandmothers speak of their husbands and sons who never came back from the battle. If you hear the “in my day” stories you might chuckle at first, but if you listen to what is really being said, you will appreciate exactly what these people had to endure for us to be where we are today.


Remember as you consider these 10 things I have learned from the elderly, that in however many years from now, you might be wishing someone else had considered these 10 things about you.

Tips for One-on-One Visits with Seniors


It is not uncommon for seniors living in assisted-living facilities to lack mental stimulation and social contact.

This is especially true for people who are loners by nature or those who have lived on their own for
a long period of time. They may choose to stay in their rooms all day and decline to participate in
programmed activities.

One-on-One visits for the Elderly
Recreation Therapists often use one-on-one visits to respond to the needs of those who avoid social settings. There are many enjoyable games and activities that can keep minds and bodies strong and active.

One-on-one visits provide caregivers with the opportunity to develop rapport and trust with individuals, which is so important in residential care settings.

How to Make the Most of a One-on-One Visit:
Put Yourself in Their Shoes
Prepare yourself mentally beforehand by spending a few minutes thinking about the person; try to put yourself in their shoes. Take a look at their 'Profile' form and see if there are hobbies or interests you can talk about.

Early Morning is Best
Schedule the visit for early in the morning when residents are more alert. Alternatively, visit mid afternoon after lunch and rest time. Make them feel special by sending a note: "Hi Linda, if it suits
you, I will be coming by tomorrow for a chat and a cup of tea!"

Eye Contact is Important
On arrival, look them in the eyes and give them a hug. Set the right tone with a warm greeting and then sit down in front of the resident at eye level.

Use Props
If you need to, bring a 'helping hand' such as a flower, some seasonal fruit, some interesting media headlines, or a home baked biscuit. Props can trigger reminiscing and help start a conversation.

Reduce Background Noise
Turn off the TV and radio and close the door if loud noises are coming through.

Pay Attention to Body Language
Pay attention to the resident's body language as well as your own. If you are wringing your hands or looking at the clock, it sends a message that you don't want to be there. On the other hand if they are nodding off to sleep or avoiding eye contact, make an excuse and come back when the resident is more receptive.

A Change of Scenery can be a Good Thing
If your meetings are always in the bedroom, try a change of scenery. A veranda or garden setting are good alternatives.

12 Ideas for One-on-One Visits with the Elderly
1. Read Aloud
Read aloud something funny such as a poem or a joke.

2. Play Games
Play simple puzzles or board games together.

3. Enjoy Trivia
Bring along some trivia quizzes or word games.

4. Look Through Photo Albums
Look through a family photo album together or make a scrapbook album together.

5. Story Telling
Ask them to tell you a story about their life. Suggest school life, childhood friends, sports, siblings, their mother's cooking, and their pets.

6. Bring Along Magazines or Books of Interest
Find out what sorts of things were of interest to them in the past; a fisherman may enjoy looking at pictures of fish and a quilter may enjoy looking at quilt magazines.

7. Show Interest in their Culture and Background
If the resident comes from another country, get hold of a few quizzes or interesting facts about the country to talk about.

8. Listen to the Radio Together
Music, talk-back, talking books, science programs, ethnic programs.

9. Enjoy Fresh Air & Sunshine
Take a walk in the garden and reminisce about their previous life at home. Was he/she a keen gardener?

10. Offer a Gentle Massage
Offer a gentle shoulder or hand massage.

11. Be Genuine
Be genuine, your attitude will make or break a visit. If you are not there in body and soul they will sense it and become indifferent.

12. Be Patient
If the resident has advanced dementia, be prepared to repeat conversations as needed; look at pictures in the room and ask questions, admire clothes and hair.

The Vital Importance of Socialization for Older Adults

According to experts, senior adults who are active and engaged socially often extend their lives and their enjoyment of life by years. However, for many older adults, the loss of friends and acquaintances over time causes them to become alone and isolated – a situation that can seriously affect their physical and emotional well-being.

While assisted living communities are primarily known for providing the support individuals need to maintain their independence, one of the most valuable benefits of assisted living over living alone is the wealth of daily socialization opportunities and the sense of “community” they provide.

In addition to being among individuals who often share similar interests and experiences, assisted living residents enjoy a variety of programs and activities that promote valuable social interaction and camaraderie – essential ingredients for overall well-being.

Not surprisingly, assisted living is the fastest growing form of senior living today.

Why Socialization Is so Important to Health and Well-Being

Psychologists and gerontologists (i.e. physicians specializing in the health of older persons) tell us that maintaining social ties to others and participating in group activities can be essential to the overall health of senior adults. In fact, there have been several studies that have demonstrated that seniors who enjoy an active social life are happier and less depressed than those who lack opportunities for socialization.

In the article, “The Importance of Socialization at Senior Living Communities,” author Elizabeth Bemis, MA says, “Most people understand the importance of encouraging young children to socialize, but it's easy to overlook the importance of socialization for older adults. Human nature leads us to crave fulfilling relationships with other people. As we age, however, life circumstances may push us toward loneliness and isolation unless we take proactive steps to cultivate new relationships.”

Ms. Bemis asserts that personal relationships and regular interactions with others can make a major difference in an older adult’s quality of life, and she highlights several key benefits associated with socialization for older adults. These include:
  • A Sense of Purpose and Feelings of Belonging – The advantages of active socializing can enhance an older loved one's quality of life considerably and add years to their expected lifespan. Senior adults are able to make new friends and strengthen existing relationships when they are engaged in activities with others who enjoy similar interests.
  • Increased Self-Esteem and Confidence – Joining a group of people with the same interests makes life more fun. Volunteering, working or looking forward to activities you enjoy can provide a reason to get up and go with a smile. Feeling helpful and needed often makes a huge difference in anyone's life, regardless of their age. 
  • Improved Physical and Mental Health – Spending time positively engaged with others is life-affirming and raises self-confidence. Keeping up with current news and trends does as well. Anything that boosts self-esteem and self-confidence can contribute to a positive mental outlook, which in turn encourages the release of "good" hormones.

These health-promoting chemicals help the body to fight off illness and disease while physically making us feel better, too. Additionally, regular interaction and engagement with peers helps to keep the mind sharp.

The Damaging Impact of Social Isolation and Loneliness

In stark contrast, living alone can limit socialization opportunities and frequently leads to a more rapid decline among older Americans. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, depression caused by isolation can increase an individual’s chance of suffering a stroke by an incredible 73 percent. Furthermore, limited social interaction can lead to a decrease in one’s self-esteem and emotional status.

A story in USA Today, “Feeling lonely? It may increase risk of early death,” reported on the results of a recent study by the University of Chicago’s Center for Cognitive & Social Neuroscience. According to the study, researchers found that people who feel consistently lonely have a 14 percent higher risk of premature death than those who do not.

According to psychologist John Cacioppo, Director of the aforementioned Center, "Loneliness is a risk factor for early death beyond what can be explained by poor health behavior. Feeling lonely isn't only unhappy; it's unsafe."

The study concluded that feeling lonely and isolated from others can lead to several unhealthy outcomes, including:

  • Less restful, restorative sleep
  • Higher blood pressure
  • Increased levels of the unhealthy stress hormone cortisol
  • Increased rates of depression
  • A decreased sense of living a meaningful life

Director Cacioppo adds, “Some people are happy to be alone, but most thrive in social situations where they enjoy support and rapport with others. People underestimate the importance of sharing good times with friends and family."

Live Healthily and Happily

Says Trisha McClanahan, Lifestyle Specialist, “As a leading senior living community, we at Travanse Living™ understand the value of socialization and well care in the lives of senior adults. Our award-winning VIVA!SM lifestyle fosters purpose and offers a whole new way of aging healthfully and happily. VIVA!SM programming provides a wealth of opportunities to enrich lives through social engagement, educational and spiritual pursuits found in a wide range of programs, as well as through activities and other events. We also offer the chance for people to share their skills, talents and passions with others through resident-led activities.”

We’d Love to Hear Your Thoughts!

If you have comments or questions about our blog, we’d love to hear from you. We also encourage you to share any of your personal experiences with us. Please share your thoughts in our comments section.

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