Staying Active Indoors this Winter

As we move into the colder months, staying active can seem difficult between the brutal cold and fears of falling alone.

Many are looking for ways to stay active indoors out of the cold! We hear that statement often during the late fall and winters, and not just from seniors.

Here we have a few ideas to consider:

Get Moving!

  1. First, walking is a great form of exercise! But some may be reluctance to walk outside when it is snowy and icy. The good news is that there are several ways to get a daily walk in that won’t require you to brave the elements. Many shopping malls open early for walkers. Lace up those sneakers and walk before the rush of the crowds begins for the day. Call the nearest Columbus-area shopping mall to see what they offer.
  2. If there isn’t a mall near that offers morning walking or if you prefer to walk later in the day, consider going to a department store or home improvement store. Walking laps around the outside aisles of these larger stores is another easy way to get your walk in. Wear a pedometer or fitness tracker to monitor your progress.
  3. Another idea is to check with your health insurance provider to see if they partner with Silver Sneakers. Many Medicare replacement plans offer a membership at no cost to seniors. Silver Sneaker classes take place at YMCA branches, local rehab communities and other fitness centers.
  4. For days when the weather is just too bad to leave home, consider investing in a treadmill or stationary bike. If you ask friends and family, you might even be able to find a used one in good condition. Another few snowy day activities might be Wii fitness games or taking a virtual Chair Yoga class on YouTube.

Keep Your Mind Sharp

  1. Staying mentally active is also important when cabin fever starts to set in. Playing cards, painting, sketching and listening to music are all good activities. Consider learning how to play an instrument or taking up a new foreign language. Many can be done completely online.
  2. Strolling Trivia is one of the most requested events in our communities. Participants answer challenging trivia questions while strolling along. Topics range from current events to American history. Visitors are always welcome to join us!

We hope these new ideas will help you stay active this winter!


Top 10 Winter Safety Tips for Seniors in Central Ohio

Being a family caregiver during frosty central Ohio winters can be especially challenging. From power outages to slip and fall accidents on black ice, being prepared is key. Here are our top ten suggestions:

Preparing for Winter

  1. Emergency Kit: Ice and snow storms can keep Ohioans stuck indoors for several days in a row. Make sure to have at least a 3-day food and water supply, a battery operated weather radio, one week’s supply of medications, blankets and warm clothing that can be used in the event of a power outage.
  2. Cell Phone or Emergency Call System: Another way to make sure your loved one stays safe is to provide them with a way to be able to quickly call you or 911 for help. Both a cell phone or an emergency call system can make that easier.
  3. Winter Gear: Also make sure they have good outdoor winter weather gear. Heavy coats, hats and mittens are a must. Boots with non-skid treads are another necessity.
  4. Furnace Inspection: Carbon monoxide is a deadly risk during winter months. Check with your loved one to see if their furnace has been inspected this season and to make arrangements for that to happen if they haven’t.
  5. Sidewalks and Drive: If you aren’t able to keep your loved ones sidewalks and driveways clear of ice and snow, help them interview and hire a landscaping service to do so. The Central Ohio Agency on Aging may be a good resource for helping you locate a contractor you can trust.
  6. Transportation Alternatives: Encourage them to use alternate forms of transportation on snowy or icy days. From COTA to Uber, there are a variety of options to meet their needs.
  7. Vehicle Safety: Their car might also need to undergo a check-up. It should be checked out for tire condition, antifreeze, wiper fluid and wiper blades, heater/defroster, and battery life.
  8. Vehicle Emergency Kit: Much like the emergency kit you put together for your loved one’s home is one you should to create to keep in their vehicle(s). Food, water, blankets, a cell phone and car charger, as well as warm clothing should be kept in an easy to access location in their vehicle(s). Behind the driver or passenger seat is probably best. In the event they get stranded on the roads during winter weather, they can stay warm and safe until help arrives.
  9. Senior Registry Program: Some communities in and around the Columbus area have programs in place to allow seniors and their caregivers to register an older adult’s name and address noting the fact that they live alone. It makes first responders aware of their situation during emergencies.
  10. Respite Care Services: Our final tip is to take advantage of a respite care program at a Columbus area assisted living community if you need to travel this winter. This way, you can ensure your loved one will stay safe and secure until your return.

We hope this list of resources helps keep you and your loved ones safe this winter!


Not in the Holiday Spirit? That’s Okay.

Dear Georgette:

My father passed away this fall, and my mom is still grieving his loss. They were married for over 50 years. While my husband and I have small children and feel like the holidays should still be a time to celebrate, my mom wants no part of Christmas.

We are struggling to try to figure out what to do. Should we try to force my mom into participating in hopes of helping to lift her spirits? Or is it better to just let her skip the celebrations and festivities this year?

We could really use some advice!



When a Senior Doesn’t Want to Celebrate the Holiday

Dear Lisa:

This certainly is a tough dilemma you are facing. The idea of having your mom sit the holidays out when she is already suffering is probably painful for you. But honoring her wishes might be the best way to help her work through her grief.

50 years of holidays together likely come with many happy memories of the times she and your dad celebrated the season. So it is understandable that this first Christmas alone will be tough.

Let your mom know that it is okay to forego putting up a tree or hosting a holiday celebration. And let her know you and your family understand she is struggling.

My suggestions to help those grieving during the holidays:

  • The first year after a loss is very difficult. Getting past all those first milestones first anniversary, first Christmas, first birthday is tough. If your mom hasn’t already done so, getting involved with a support group can make a big difference. She will have the opportunity to talk through her struggles with people who are experiencing similar struggles. Local hospice organizations can help her connect with one of these groups.

  • Host a family dinner at your house or bring the dinner to your mom, but without all the fuss of the holidays. It will provide the entire family with an opportunity to be together and support one another through this difficult time.

  • Consider creating a scrapbook or video of happy times for your mom and family to enjoy together. Finding meaning in memories, also known as Reminiscence therapy, is proven to be a powerful way of helping bring back joy. Just be careful to gauge your mom’s reaction to make sure this isn’t making her feel worse.

My final suggestion is to learn more about grieving and senior depression. As time goes by, you will want to make sure your mother’s grief hasn’t turned into depression.

I wish you and your family the best in working through this very tough time.

Kindest Regards,

Georgette Dickerson

Do’s and Don’ts When Caring for Someone with Alzheimer’s Disease

If a central Ohio senior you love has Alzheimer’s disease, helping to provide care and support for them can present more than a few unique challenges. Because of the physical damage the disease causes to the brain, everything from judgment to speech can be impacted. For adult children and caregivers, figuring out how to manage these changes isn’t easy. To help, we’ve pulled together a few do’s and don’ts for caregivers struggling with some the most common Alzheimer’s behavioral issues.

Managing Alzheimer’s Confusion

Don’t: When a senior with Alzheimer’s is confused about where they are or when they are going “home,” don’t go into lengthy explanations.

Do: Instead of trying to explain they aren’t living in their own home anymore, try to redirect their attention to another task. Suggest you bake cookies together or listen to their favorite old time tunes. If redirection won’t work, try saying you will take them home tomorrow after your car has an oil change or later tonight when rush hour traffic is done.

The Hurtful Accusations

Don’t: One behavior that is typical for those living with dementia is accusing loved ones of “stealing” from them. It might be their money, a car, or a household item. Don’t let your feelings get hurt or take it personally. This is the disease talking and not your senior loved one.

Do: Trying to reason with them or rationalize the situation won’t work when someone has Alzheimer’s disease. Instead, try to show them where the “missing” item is. In the case of their money, it might be showing them their checkbook or savings statement.

Refusing to Cooperate with Caregivers

Don’t: If your loved one won’t cooperate with caregivers when it is time to take a shower, get dressed, or complete another daily task, don’t adopt an aggressive tone and try to force them to comply.

Do: Try to figure out what is keeping them from doing what you ask. In the case of a shower, it is common for those with Alzheimer’s disease to develop a fear of water. They may be more willing to take a bath instead. It may be modesty if the challenge is helping them get dressed. Try laying their clothes for the day out on the bed in the order they need to put them on. Then let them get dressed on their own. It may be less embarrassing for them to do it on their own.

Want to learn more about managing difficult behaviors when caring for a senior loved one with Alzheimer’s disease? Please visit the Behavioral Symptoms guide written by the experts at the Alzheimer’s Association.


Showing Appreciation for Caregivers

Dear Mike:

With the holiday season approaching, my family would like to do something to show our gratitude for one of the nurses that cares for my mom at her nursing home. While the whole staff is just terrific, this nurse has gone above and beyond to support my mom.

We would like to give her a holiday gift card or even cash. I’m sure there are rules about what we can and can’t do when it comes to showing appreciation to staff members. We want to be careful not to do anything that causes problems for her.

Could you explain to us the best way to go about recognizing my mom’s nurse?



Thanking those who Care for a Senior Loved One

Dear Cassandra:

This is a common question around the holidays! Families are often hoping to be able to show a staff member how much they appreciate them. Sometimes it’s a housekeeper and, other times, it’s a nurse, aide or dietitian.

My first piece of advice is not to underestimate just how much a few kind words of thanks or a simple thank-you note can mean. Our staff members enjoy working with residents, but knowing their assistance is appreciated means a lot.

Now on to answer your question about holiday gift giving: Staff members are NOT allowed to accept cash or gifts of significant value. For a variety of reasons, this is a policy that is strictly enforced. What is allowable are gestures such as homemade holiday cookies or candy that can be left at the nurses, station or in the staff break room.

Beyond that, we encourage families to use our MacIntosh Moments Employee Recognition program. You can share your story of appreciation this way. Once you do, the staff member is entered into voting for our Employee of the Month contest. The monthly winner receives a $50 gift card and a prime parking spot for the month.

The 12 employees who receive this honor during the year are then recognized at a year-end banquet with their managers. From these 12 employees, an employee of the year is chosen. The winner receives their own parking spot all year, as well as a $100 gift card.

The staff at your mother’s nursing home can help you learn more about the MacIntosh Moments Employee Recognition program.

Thank you for asking this question, Cassandra! Happy Holidays to you and your family.

Kind Regards,