What are the experiences that bring true joy in life? This core question is essential, yet may be challenging to define on behalf of our senior family members and clients. Many homebound seniors spend their days alone, watching television and eating frozen dinners. Visits and outings are often focused around medical needs, errands, and tasks. The pandemic has only magnified this phenomenon. While it is easy to prioritize a doctor’s appointment, how do we plan for and even schedule “Joy”?
Joy is Unique to Individuals
The experience of joy is unique to each individual. Some important considerations include a person’s historical sense of identity, culture, pace, and rhythm in life, and the associated artifacts, foods, traditions and rituals. What was their lifelong passion? What do they reminisce about? These elements contribute valuable information that can help bring joy into the present moment when applied to care, environment, and activities. What inspires joy can be quite simple…birdwatching, a lovely sky, afternoon tea, fresh flowers, ice cream, a prized fishing pole, strawberries, the woods, a letter, gardening, a companion animal, a colorful basket of yarn, favorite music, or a shared moment.
Care Planning for Individualized Joy
When incorporated into care planning and living spaces, these historical preferences can help us in the delivery of individualized, quality care and also bring a dynamic sense of life and activity into the daily environment, engaging the senses in the moment and stimulating pleasant reminiscence. A care plan may include simple yet personalized directives that allow care providers to present elements of joy throughout each day, enhancing quality of life.
Using Favorite Items and Meals
Community outings and enrichment activities can be readily coordinated for people of all abilities. A regularly scheduled delivery of favorite items and meals can offer a welcome and consistent surprise to the recipient as well as supplemental nutrition. Technology can offer ways to connect from afar. A living space can be decorated in meaningful ways, highlighting personal artifacts that stimulate a sense of comfort, joy, pride, and legacy.
These joyful items and activities may also act as a conduit for reminiscence and engagement between family, care providers, and seniors, leading to a deeper and more authentic connection in the moment. Just a few acts of intention, communication, and coordination by family and care providers can result in a higher quality of care and a more joyful life.