Thursday, April 30, 2020

Jigsaw Puzzles Keep Seniors Going and Going and Going

Marge is 92. But when she's in the middle of a jigsaw puzzle, she's 20, or maybe 30.

For years Marge was all smiles as she searched  for just the right colors of green, or blue, or red to complete the puzzles. The ones with 1,000 pieces or more were favorites. During the holidays after the dishes were done and food put away, she would go for a jigsaw puzzle. It was a great choice--no calories but pleasing in its own way.

Sometimes she worked the puzzles in a group, other times by herself. Did she know in her earlier years that at 90-something she would still have that that gleam in her eye when looking for just the right piece?

Well, she does. It seems like as people age and forget things--and we all do--we remember what we loved.  It's as if our brains hold tight to the precious things: songs, puzzles, fishing, hunting. And even if we can't physically perform those activities, the memories are still there.

I'm so glad that in many senior care communities, and assisted living communities, jigsaw puzzles take front and center  When I worked at a retirement community for 12 years, I would see residents sit at the jigsaw puzzle table, intent on their search.  I would leave the building in the evening, realizing there was more "work" for them to do, and for me as well.  In the morning, I spotted the table once again. Miraculously, the puzzle was finished. The puzzle elves had come and worked their magic.

Yes, Marge still enjoys her puzzles. Here is a picture to prove it.

Monday, April 20, 2020

Grief on a Global Scale, For Elders and Us All

"We are experiencing grief on a global scale," said Trudy James a week ago.  I'd never heard CO-VID-19 expressed quite that way, but it's true.  Grief on a global scale.

Trudy James is a chaplain and experienced grief counelor. She shared the podium April 13 in a recorded public conversation with Robin Shapiro, board chair for the Washington State Health Advocacy Association.

Grief, especially of the aging, was their topic. "Our culture hates sadness. Our tendency is to focus on how we move forward, rather than the sadness we feel," said James.

But grief is a reality.  And it's about loss. "We are losing our normal way of life.  We are losing our connections to other people." The symptoms are many: fatigue, tiredness,  and pains, and numbness. Or we can become angry or ill. And even after we return to our normal life, we still can experience grief.

So what do we do with the sadness we feel?  Here are some ideas to use with yourself, with seniors in your life, or with others who are experiencing loss on a global scale.

  • Talking about the situation and your feelings is good. 
  • Allow yourself to cry.
  • Listen to others without fixing. Not everyone knows how to listen to loss.
  • Ask questions of people such as "What is the hardest thing about this time for you?" "What do you miss the most about "regular" life?
  •  Spend time in nature, or at least look out the window.
  • Do simple acts of kindness for others. 
  • Perform a ritual such as sitting in silence. A ritual is an action that carries meaning and insight. 
Grief on a global scale. It's true. How true. My ritual is sitting in silence and gaining strength for today and tomorrow.

Friday, April 10, 2020

Zoom into Easter: Our Virtual Celebration

Our granddaughters at the right are turning 16 and 14 in May.  This Easter, they will star
 in the shortest Easter pageant ever. At least in the history of our family.

Our congregation includes two grandparents, three children, three spouses and 7 grandchildren.  We're not going to let the  coronavirus put a damper on the Easter parade. But this year's celebration will be different.

The three families will all participate virtually in Easter services at their individual churches. There will be 3 separate egg hunts before the family celebration. Zoom calls us to order at 2:30. Our oldest granddaughters are in charge of Zoom.

Our order of worship looks like this
  • Shout in unison:  "Jesus is risen. He is risen indeed." 
  • Ring bells, key chains, anything that makes noise.
  • Grandpa reads the Easter story from the New Testament.
  • Tell the Resurrection egg story. These are plastic eggs with symbols of Easter inside.  Usually there are candies, too, but I can't figure out how to virtually pass them out.  Next year. This year we'll focus on the story.
  • I will talk about three kinds of prayers:  "Help me, help me,  help me!" "Thank you, thank you!" and "Wow!"
  • We are skipping the Hallelujah Chorus, unless someone has a recording of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.  And we'll each prepare and eat our own food.
  • Afterwards the grownups will adjourn and the kids can talk to each other on Zoom for awhile.
No, it's not the celebration we're used to, but it will be Easter all the same.

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