Spruce Up Your Surroundings for Everyoneís Well-Being
By Jean Donahue
thatís exactly how many of our elderly feel every day. They are
basically confined to a room, house or nursing home that is drab and
uninteresting. Many of them canít get outside or go anywhere. When
they actually are able to do something interesting, they canít stay
very long Ė and they return to their drab surroundings.
those of our loved ones who can still move about, they may go for a walk
or sit in a chair on the patio or deck. Even if they are in a
wheelchair, they can go outside and enjoy the sunshine and fresh air
after a spring rain. Birds chirp. Squirrels chase each other through the
trees. A light breeze swishes their hair. Everything is uplifting,
calming and healing.
the huge difference? Imagine the impact of these scenes on your mood and
outlook. We all love days like the one I just described. None of us want
to end up in a drab, gloomy place that has no fresh air, sunshine or
anything else associated with the outdoors, especially after a long and
dreary winter! Letís look at various aspects of the physical
environment of our elderly and how it affects them.
conditions can cause depression and loss of hope. Itís as simple as
that. When a person is depressed and without hope, they give up caring
about things like cleanliness and clutter. They tend to have more
accidents, diseases and lose their ability to concentrate. Is it
possible that health is improved or made worse by our surroundings
instead of how much we can afford for care? Many people think it is, and
so do I.
another community that is influenced by these same conditions. I hope
you realized and said you, as a caregiver. The same things that affect
your loved ones affect you, too. If you are taking care of your loved
one at home, you experience the same environment. If your loved one is
in a nursing home, you grieve over their situation. If your loved one is
in their own home, you worry about their safety. You need them to have
an environment conducive to good emotional and physical health, but you
also need it for yourself. You will both be much healthier and happier
if you both have the right, refreshing environment.
this is where we are. You need an uplifting environment and your loved
one needs an uplifting environment. Just exactly how do you go about
of you might be able to afford to have someone improve your environment.
Some might need to do things yourselves. Either way, changes --
even simple ones -- can be made that will improve the surroundings.
the curtains or draperies closed most of the time? Why donít you open
them during the day? If your loved one has a skin condition that is
worsened by the sun, make sure they are away from the window but open
the drapes. A depressed person on their own will quite often keep the
is the color of the walls? Are they comforting colors or are they all a
sterile light yellow or white? Would painting one wall a medium-to-light
green, blue or blue-green brighten things? Just be sure to avoid heavy,
dark colors. They darken the place Ė and mood. You can create an
environment that makes the inside look more like the outside. If you
decide you should paint the walls and can afford to have someone else
paint the walls, hire them. If you like to do things yourself or if you
canít afford to hire someone, check stores that sell paint at a
about pictures on the walls? Are they uplifting or inspiring? If not,
perhaps you could replace them with prints of waterfalls, ocean, trees,
plants, animals or other outdoor scenes. You donít need to spend a
fortune on pictures. Itís whatís in the picture and how it will
improve the ambiance of a house or room thatís important.
the furniture need a makeover? If it does, you can buy new furniture or
simply cover the furniture you have with slip covers. You can even use
decorative sheets to cover your furniture as long as you tuck them in
well. Experiment a little.
for the holidays and seasons. Put something up for every holiday that
comes around as the elderly often look forward to each event more than
many busy caregivers do. Thanksgiving Day, Motherís Day, Fatherís
Day, you can even make up your own holiday. What about ďIím glad
youíre my loved oneĒ day.
the spring, decorate with spring flowers. In the winter, cut paper
snowflakes and put them on the wall. Decorate in any way that will make
you and your loved one both feel happy and well.
about animals? A dog, cat, fish or bird? It has been shown that animals
improve the disposition of many elderly and that watching fish in a fish
aquarium helps lower blood pressure. Just be sure you, as caregiver, can
handle the added responsibility of the pet, if you go this route.
about creating special nights in the house? You could rent a movie and
serve popcorn while you watch it together. If youíre caring for your
spouse, have a romantic dinner. Do something special you both will