Taking in a virtual session with your senior friend does not have to be just inside the house. With Spring arriving and the flowers blooming, we enjoyed our Zoom session outside together! Not only does this provide realistic visuals for your partner to enjoy, but the sound of nature enhances the activity as birds sing all around. Tactile stimulation also lends to this scenario as my senior friend can see my hand embrace each flower and plant observed. Asking questions such as, “What do you think this flower smells like?” provides intellectual stimulation and the chance for your friend to express their thoughts and use creativity. We also met a dog on the way! Spring…..taking it in virtually is another way to enjoy the flowers!!
Visiting museums was one of our favorite outings with my senior friend. Once experiencing the effects of having to stay home, we decided to bring different galleries to us! Using the share feature on Zoom, we can connect to free tours, videos, and exhibitions, and tour all our favorite artistic places together. Since taking advantage of what technology offers, we have experienced places we never thought possible, including different countries. This type of activity promotes initiative as my friend plans out where he would like to go. Once we meet online, we are out the door! Bring on the arts!
Welcome to our 10 Week in-depth look at the Hummingbird Project’s Virtual Activity program!
As the Stay-In-Place orders continue, elders are feeling the effects of isolation more than ever. Clients that are used to experiencing certified pet-therapists in their activity session are especially feeling the loneliness of not seeing their furry friend. Hummingbird Activity Specialists to the rescue, as they have created a virtual way to meet the emotional well-being of their clients. With the use of technology, an Activity Specialist includes a pet-therapy animal by way of Zoom or FaceTime. This activity provides reminiscing as clients share stories regarding family pets of yesterday. Also, because animals take on a child-like presence, clients can continue to demonstrate feelings of nurture as they speak to them in loving tones; just like in person! The Hummingbird Project is dedicated to promoting quality of life and understand how animals bring out the best in everyone involved. Zoom doggie, Zoom!
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Bird watching is often a simple and fun activity for animal lovers and birders alike. Maybe you have birds right outside your door, or maybe this is an opportunity to take a drive to an area where wildlife can be seen. See where the conversation leads as you talk about what you notice. Are there birds in the water? How many different bird calls can you hear? Can you recognize the types of birds you see? This will stimulate the mind and can even be a spiritual experience as you and your loved one connect with nature.
Seasonally you may notice migratory birds in the area and this can organically lead to conversations about migration and your observations. An activity such as watching a well-known nature film such as Fly Away Home or Winged Migration can further evoke mentally stimulating dialogue.
There are many books on bird calls and bird identification that can lead to future activities of interest and inspiration!
Music unlocks the soul and often can rekindle early feelings and memories. Try making a list of music that inspires your loved one and search for similar genres or artists. This can also be a starting point to explore new music and slowly expand the range of interest into new territory. Enjoy creating a theme day of Hawaiian, Spanish, or Country music, dress the part and add props to enhance the experience.
Other ways to enjoy music together:
- Sing and dance with the tune.
- Use rhythm and movement to easily connect to a favorite song while seated or standing.
- Sing a familiar lyric or hum the melody together.
- Simply relax and listen, then talk about how you feel afterwards.
Remember, the enjoyment of music is universal!
**For more information and ideas view the documentary Alive Inside.
Sunday, May 10, is Mother’s Day and it is right around the corner! Since we are still sheltering in place, try planning a Virtual Tea Party in honor of the day and the special women in your life.
Start by sending Zoom or FaceTime invitations by email. Suggest dressing up, wearing a fancy hat, using a favorite teacup or china, and preparing cookies or a nice treat. A tea and cookie basket can also be delivered to the front porch of your loved one! Once you are all virtually gathered, invite everyone to share “mom gratitude”, photographs, and stories. You can even take a screen shot of your tea party to remember how you connected in this unique and celebratory way!
A special connection from an Activity Specialist:
Never having a green thumb, I always enjoyed conversing with my client who was a master gardener. After moving into a house recently, I called upon her expertise often when trying to navigate around the large garden bestowed to our family. Assisting me in designing this garden brought her much joy and nurtured her self-esteem as she shared her expertise. Since the recent “shelter at home” orders, my client has not been able to leave her care facility. No problem! I cut fresh flowers from my yard and delivered them curbside to my gardener friend. The staff took extra care in transferring them inside and observed the appropriate waiting period before delivering them to her room. Bringing the outside in gave my client the chance to smell the flowers again! We conversed virtually about the different types of flowers and I was able to share a video about gardening with her on the computer! Ah, don’t forget to stop and smell the flowers!!!
Take advantage of the beautiful weather outside to engage in cloud watching and nature strolls. By taking a walk together, you can both relax while enjoying the beautiful change of scenery and take in the spring blooms! Look up at the sky and use this creative opportunity to identify shapes and figures forming in the cloud above! Observe and describe the world around you, or simply relax and just watch them float by…
Engaging in outdoor activities relaxes the mind, calms the body, and restores the soul. You can even take this as an opportunity to engage in a religious or spiritual practice with your family or care partner. Perhaps just take a few deep breaths together and provide some emotional wellness.
As with all activities during the COVID-19 pandemic, The Hummingbird Project encourages you to practice CDC Guidance for Older Adults: https://www.cdc.gov/aging/covid19-guidance.html
It is said that “Laughter is the best medicine.” So have a good laugh while sharing funny jokes and riddles with your family or care partner. Tickle your funny bone by inventing creative new versions of your own! During this time of unprecedented uncertainty, it is important to find opportunities to lift our spirits, and what better way than to laugh and smile together? Not only is it fun, but it benefits intellectual and emotional well-being and helps reduce feelings of isolation. Look for ways to give a giggle and count how many smiles you can create! And no worries if someone is wearing a mask, you can still see a smile in their eyes!
While feeling the effects of isolation, animal lovers are especially missing their four-legged visitors. If visits from their favorite family pets or volunteer Therapy Dogs are currently on pause, try sending pictures, videos, or even hosting virtual engagement with animals through a video call on a phone or Zoom meeting! Animals naturally have the gift of promoting emotional wellness. By helping a friend or loved one see a beloved pet being walked, groomed, fed, or at play, they can experience an increase in joy and humor that naturally comes from observing furry friends!