When my mother-in-law gave up driving we recognized that her world would get smaller. To offset this we decided to bring as much of the world that we could to her. We needed to enrich her home environment and foster opportunities for her to interact with it. We started with seasonal plantings around her patio that she could water and nurture. She could observe them from her kitchen table and often commented on their beauty. Next we installed a birdbath. A birdbath involves less work than a bird feeder, attracts fewer pests, is cleaner and requires that you only add water. It wasn’t long before the birds started coming. A consequence of this was that my mother-in-law wanted to be able to identify them. We gave her a bird book and now she spends time classifying her feathered visitors. Of course the next logical step was a birdhouse and every spring and summer she sits on her patio in the early evening and the wrens serenade her. She especially enjoys watching the fledglings take their first flight. Growing things is always an interesting endeavor. Each spring, we put patio plants like tomatoes, eggplant and herbs on her patio. My mother-in-law enjoys caring for them, watching them grow and ripen. However, the icing on the cake is when she can use them in a meal that she has prepared. In the winter months we would put paper whites and amaryllis bulbs throughout the house. She enjoys the touch of spring in the winter, and often gives us periodic reports on their growth and progress. We have a pet dog that we inherited from our son and from time to time we take him to my mother-in-laws for a visit. She loves his antics and enjoys the contact comfort of petting him. When she thinks we are not looking, she will spoil him with a treat. As a caregiver you can do many things to enrich and stimulate the individual in your care. Just listen and be creative.
-By Hello! Home Care contributing writer, Bill Mishico