Episode 2: What does Relaxation look like to you?
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Episode 2: What does Relaxation look like to you?

Welcome back to 'LIFE Conversations with Senior Helpers.' In Episode 2, our hosts Christina Chartrand and David Chandler delve into the nuanced concept of relaxation, especially as it pertains to seniors. They share their personal relaxation practices and discuss how relaxation needs differ among individuals, particularly the elderly. From engaging in leisure activities to the therapeutic effects of nature, this episode is rich with ideas for infusing relaxation into seniors' lives. Don't miss this informative episode, available on platforms like Spotify, YouTube Podcasts, Amazon Music, Castbox, iHeart Radio, and Radio Public.

Episode Transcript

Christina Chartrand: Welcome back everyone to Life Conversations with Christina Chartrand and...

David Chandler: David Chandler and today we're going to be focusing on relaxation day. We're celebrating relaxation day on August 17th and today we're going to be talking about some ways to help our seniors relax. And so first off, Christina, what are some, what does relaxation mean to you and how do you practice relaxation in your life?

Christina Chartrand: Really? Mmm. That's a great question. It's not a lot of relaxing around here. But when it does happen, I usually have my AirPods and I put them on and I go for a walk. And I'm either listening to a book or a music. And for me, that's relaxing. And another thing is, you're probably gonna laugh, is sitting on the sofa and watching some romantic movie, some rom-com.

David Chandler: Okay, what's your favorite? What's your favorite movie?

Christina Chartrand: Oh my gosh, something like pretty and pink. How about you David, what's relaxation to you?

David Chandler: Okay, all right, all right.

David Chandler: Relaxation to me is taking some time to disconnect. Our lives are so go all the time and so just taking some time to unplug and take a deep breath. Breathing is something that I feel like as I've incorporated that more into my life, just taking some time to take a deep breath, it helps me to re-center. So that's a big part of relaxing for me is reminding myself to breathe. And when I do have that chance to disconnect, kind of taking that go attitude off and I love to relax by spending time with my family. We'll go out and jump on the trampoline or play a board game or we love to be out in nature so sometimes we'll go camping or out to the beach and but on a day-to-day basis it's really just taking that time to one thing we love to do is still we have family dinner together and that's a time that we're all able to kind of take that breath and enjoy a meal together and either watch some TV or play a game or something but just have that time that purposeful time to really disconnect and enjoy each other.

Christina Chartrand: Well, that sounds really good. That sounds awesome. So life conversations is about seniors, right? It's about our seniors. So how do we fit in? Let's talk about this. Relaxation day and seniors. What do we think about that?

David Chandler: Right. Yeah, so one of the things that I think about is a lot of times our notion, our preconceived thought is that our seniors are retired and so they're relaxing, they're chilling all the time and they don't really have an obligation of where to go or what to do. And what we find very often is that just because seniors may be having that time to relax and can sit back and their days aren't structured or as scheduled as ours may be, that we still want to encourage them to participate in things that they really enjoy doing. And so one of the things our loved one that appears to be relaxing. Maybe they're watching TV or... relaxing at home, but really they're not engaging in the things that they used to do, like getting out and going to a poker club or going out to the bridge club or exercise or getting out and taking the walks that they used to, walking on the beach. So when we see that, if we see that somebody is not engaging in the activities that they used to or finding that purposeful relaxation, we want to ask those questions about, hey, "What is it that you enjoy doing, and how can we make sure you're engaging in that?"

Christina Chartrand: Yeah, it's really true because we've got to think about what this really means, relaxation, because we can have lots of activities and we can say, but is the actual activity actually re-energizing you and restoring your spirit? And that's the question. And so sometimes may appear like they're relaxing, but there's really a lot of things, other things going on, right? They could be something that they're working on, a problem that they're solving. It could be they could be anxious at the time. They could be worried about something. And not really partaking in what it really means to relax. So I think that's an important piece because I think it'd be easy for us to say, yeah, our seniors, you know, relaxing all the time, but it's not true. You know, one of the things that when I think about activities, because again, you brought up a lot of different types of activities, David, which I think was really good.

I'd like to put them into four categories when I think about an activity, so really to help people understand what we mean by something restorative and relaxing. And the first activity is something productive, right? So it's something that we're doing. A lot of times that's something that, you know, you and I are doing on a daily basis because it probably has something to do with our work, has a chore that has to happen in our home. It could be an errand that we need to run.

David Chandler: Ew.

Christina Chartrand: But that would be considered an activity. And another would be a leisure activity. So that's kind of more like fun and interactive when you were talking about jumping on the trampoline with your kids, right? So that would be like considered something leisure, something really fun. And then there's self-care and wellness activities. So this is like personally taking care of yourself. So this could be something like getting your hair cut. It could be... It could be that walk because it's healthy for you to be able to go out and walk on a regular basis. But think about something that's good for the body and brain. And the last is that restorative activity. So what are things that are going to be restorative to bring you back to a place to feel centered? And so I think when we think about these, all of these could have that relaxation component, it's just based on things you like to do.

David Chandler: Yeah, and that's interesting to me because one of the things that I think about as well is relaxation can be very different for different types of people. Some people can really enjoy that active lifestyle where they want to be out hiking and maybe still engaging, doing something crazy, going out and skydiving. They want to go out and have that adrenaline rush. Or they may find that relaxation activity as being sitting down reading a book, lighting a candle, or engaging, just staying at home. They might be a homebody or they may be somebody that is very extroverted and needs that connection with people.

Christina Chartrand: Right. Yeah, I agree. I live near the beach, so plopping myself in front of the water at sunset would be super relaxing to me, for sure. What are some activities that you found? I think, did you find some activities around?

David Chandler: Yeah, so some great senior relaxation activities for our seniors would include things like lighting that candle. So some easy ways to do that. Really looking at the senses. So when it comes to addressing those five senses, it can really help us to relax, to think about... what are some of the things that we smell? Sometimes if I've gone on vacation, somebody forgets to take the trash out, and you come in and you're like, oh my gosh, it doesn't smell good in here, I don't even wanna be in this house. Or like, does it smell good and welcoming and inviting? So having that good scent in the home can be really important. So if we do, if we're burning candles, if we're lighting candle, I always like to light a candle in my house when I'm cleaning, because it just gives that fresh scent, but making sure that we're using one that's on a stable, safe surface. And not that has the open flame, but the one that's kind of like in the cup that the flame is contained. So that will help our seniors to stay safe. Using some soothing sounds. That's a tongue twister. Soothing sounds, try that one five times fast. But having some sounds on, like I know one that I really love to listen to is like listening to rain. So if I want to relax at night,

Christina Chartrand: Soothing sounds.

David Chandler: Like if I'm having trouble falling asleep, I might ask my Alexa, Alexa play some rain and that just helps me to kind of drift off to sleep...

Christina Chartrand: That's going to make me use the bathroom. I'll have to be honest with you. What works better for me is an ocean sound.

David Chandler: Yeah, and you know what's so funny? Oh, okay. You know, what's so funny is my Alexa is actually talking to me in the background right now because I said Alexa, so she's trying to talk back to me right now. Yeah. Try and figure out what I'm saying.

Christina Chartrand: She's going like, what? You know, I also think like bringing up music, because I think this is really important and I'm glad you brought up soothing sounds. I don't think necessarily to be relaxed, it has to be soothing. Sometimes it really can be music that you really identify with and you love. You know, one of the things that I know is like the window of time where you identify the best with music is between around 16, 17 to about 21, 22. During that time, that is the music that you just, you gravitate towards and how fun to be able to play music during, you know, if you were 80 some years old, go back to that time in there, you're 30 in, you know, 19, let's say 1940 or 1945, 1950s, you know, and play that music, how fun that would be. And that could be very relaxing.

David Chandler: Yeah, no, I'm just thinking about what I listen to during that age range. And I'm like, yeah, I know the lyrics, I know the tunes, so much better than I do from any other. And I just I would get excited to listen to that music. So I think that's a great reminder to have that music available and yeah. A couple other things include meditation and breathing. That's a that's a really great one to help kind of just relax your body, have that time to re-center. That's a great one for seniors. Calming low impact physical activity like going for a walk, doing yoga— Those can be great!

Christina Chartrand: You know, one of the things my mom does, because sometimes it's been too hot for her to be outside, is that she walks kind of a loop in her apartment listening to music that she really likes to. And, you know, she says, my gosh, you know, I'm sure the rug is wearing down as the loop that she does, but she does a mile. She'll go and loop around. Yeah, yeah, yeah. So she, you know, and that to her is relaxing, but it's also, if I go back to that category, it's really wellness, right? It's a wellness opportunity for her.

David Chandler: Yeah. And then making something doing, sometimes people can find a new outlet for relaxation. So maybe finding art, maybe somebody has always wanted to try making pottery or painting and going and doing a class or even there's so many resources available now, you could have Amazon deliver a canvas and then watch a YouTube video on how to do some art and you can do that right in your home. And do some art artwork, if that's something you wanted to do, music, learning a new instrument, maybe learning how to play the piano, or if you've known how to play the piano, engaging in that. It's amazing when I was working in memory care communities, sometimes we'd have people that were in the later stages of dementia, and you would put them in front of a piano, and all of a sudden, it was like things would just start connecting, they'd play the piano, they'd sing, they'd sing beautifully, play the piano beautifully. That's something that can be really good.

Christina Chartrand: That right side of the brain that's protected. And yeah, it is amazing. It's a gift, isn't it? It's such a gift. Yeah. What else do you have on that list?

David Chandler: Oh my gosh, yeah. Oh, I've got one more big one, and that's spending time in nature. Yeah. There's so many benefits to getting out there. And one of the things I think about too, is that I love... Something simple that you can do is maybe have a bird feeder outside or a hummingbird, a tractor, depending on where you're at in the country. That's something that I really enjoy, but seniors really enjoy that as well, being able to watch the wildlife outside.

Christina Chartrand: Yeah, that makes me think of a study that I saw from the University of Rochester. And it really talked about the importance and the healing power of nature when it comes to seniors. And one of the things they did is they did a study of people who were in a community that didn't weren't able to visualize or be able to see nature on a regular basis and versus the ones who did. And one of the things that they really saw was an immune in their are a boost in their immune system. reduction of stress and anxiety and depression. It improved memory and concentration and reduced some chronic illness and pain. I just, you know, I can't stress it enough. You know, I think sometimes if you can just even think about, you know, looking where your loved one, your senior is living and- evaluate that and maybe change the furniture around to where it looks out the window and has that bird feeder that you were talking about. Even having pots of flowers or plants in an area that you visually can see. And just the thought of just making sure that they're getting out on a regular basis to be able to experience the sunrise and the sunset and the change of seasons, like all of those things are just, I think just super restorative.

David Chandler: Yeah, I love that. I was getting chills just thinking about just being able to get people, keep our loved ones engaged and getting them outside those, that's so important. And I just, I loved that study showed even just having them see it, just seeing it. Just seeing it, like maybe they're not able to get out in it as often. And of course getting out in it is preferable, but even just having them look out the window or get out on the porch can have such significant benefits to them. It's such a great study. I'm glad we were able to share about that.

Christina Chartrand: Yeah, yeah, for sure. Any downsides, as you think, to restorative or relaxing? Any downsides can you think of?

David Chandler: I can't think of any downsides.

Christina Chartrand: No, they're really, I mean, I think that it's all, you know, I think what's really important when I'm thinking about this is you got to figure out what you enjoy doing, right? You got to figure out, because this individual, like you and I just even talking about what's relaxing to both of us was so individualized. And so when it comes to our seniors and if we've got caregivers out there or we've got clinicians listening in today or. daughters or sons is to really reach out to their loved one and try to figure out what are the things that they do find relaxing. I think that's important.

David Chandler: Yeah. I don't, and as I think about it, I don't see downsides to the relaxation activity. What I do think about is wanting to make sure that as we are encouraging our loved ones or ourselves to participate in these activities is wanting to make sure we do them safely. And so looking at one of the things that I, one of my favorite pieces of durable medical equipment or DME is a transport wheelchair. Wheelchairs are so light they very easily fit in a trunk and so and if you're we're talking about getting out in nature transport wheelchair is a great way to be able to do that safely or to be able to bring it along if you if you're using a walker or a loved one is using a walker and we want to get them some exercise and we're not sure are they going to be able to make it through the whole park maybe we bring her along that transport wheelchair so that if help them to get out and exercise and get that time in nature. I think that that's the one part that I think about is wanting to make sure that we do those activities safely.

Christina Chartrand: Yeah, I think you bring up a really good point, and I'm sure everyone has seen this before. So if someone is needing, for example, a walker to be able to be mobile out and about, many times where their eyes are, are down low looking down towards their feet versus experiencing what's around them. And so just think about what that transport chair does. It really provides that opportunity for them to sit back and enjoy what we're asking them to experience, right? So if it's something visual, which typically it is, if we're walking someplace, it's something visual to experience, that's gonna really allow them to have that true experience versus worrying about falling or tripping, right? There's time to practice skate and walking, right? And to get your exercise versus an experience. Yeah, really good point. Good. Well, this was really exciting and fun today.

David Chandler: Yeah, it was. Yeah, I'm looking forward again to our next one. Hopefully our listeners got something out of this. And yeah.

Christina Chartrand: I've got some good ideas, things that they can take back to their community wherever they're working and or to take back to their parents to kind of begin to think about or to look at us, right? Things that we could do, like start putting some more relaxation activities into our weekly plans.

David Chandler: Yeah. All right. Well, we'll see you guys on our next episode of LIFE Conversations.

Thank you for tuning into Episode 2 of 'LIFE Conversations with Senior Helpers.' This episode's exploration of relaxation in senior care aims to enlighten and inspire both caregivers and families. We hope the ideas and insights shared have offered you new perspectives on enhancing the well-being of seniors in your life. Join us in future episodes as we continue to delve into essential topics surrounding senior care, sharing knowledge and experiences that make a difference. Your feedback is invaluable, and we look forward to sharing more engaging and informative conversations with you.