Tag Archives: Jess Walter

Joining Together with A Shared Interest in Woodworking


We welcome back guest writer Jess Walter to The Purple Jacket!

Being a caregiver can take its toll on well being, but making time to take care of yourself by keeping up interests and hobbies, can alleviate stress and help you stay connected. Over 16 million American households enjoy woodworking as a hobby according to a study by The Craft and Hobby Association, making it one of the top four hobbies in the US. It continues to grow in popularity, as easy access to online tutorials and renewed interest in woodworking classes help to inspire new generations of DIYers. An age-old craft using body and mind to create something beautiful and practical, for a caregiver it is also is an engaging and a rewarding way to share an interest with the person they care for or to connect with people and make new friends at a local class.

Learning and Sharing Skills

Caring for someone can be challenging and an absorbing hobby like woodwork can provide a welcome break from daily duties.The pleasure gained from creating something from scratch is timeless, and woodworking can be an enjoyable pastime at any age. Home accessories or children’s toys are simple projects requiring minimal skills and are an easy way to get started. A woodworking workshop can be a social space where people learn from each other and, as confidence builds, making more complex such as small pieces of furniture that require routing and joints becomes more achievable. Whether a beginner or more advanced woodworker, using the right equipment can make light work of these projects, ensuring satisfaction at having created something useful and appealing.

Improving Your Brain

There may be times during the routine of caregiving when life becomes a drudge and this is when a hobby can provide welcome stimulation. As well as being a fulfilling pastime, woodworking can keep your mind sharp. Any pastime is good for mental stimulation but getting involved with crafting hobbies leads to participants being 45% less likely to develop mild cognitive impairment or memory loss. This is because woodworking is an activity that uses all areas of the brain and helps brain cells function better. You not only need the ability to physically cut wood, insert joints and add finishing touches but also to apply basic math and geometry in the planning stages of a project. With social interaction and communication being important elements of working together in a class, this problem-solving aspect of woodworking is also one which lends itself well to sharing ideas and creative solutions. Together, you can help each other decide the best way to join a corner on a drawer or whether or not to add an inlay to a table top.

A Healthy Distraction

Even if you are looking after someone with mild dementia, there are elements of woodworking that can be very rewarding for them to share too. It provides an absorbing diversion and helps form close friendships too. It can be empowering to take a piece of plain wood and cut and shape it into a useful object. Woodworking allows you both to be present in the moment, finding satisfaction in working with your hands. The touch and smell of the wood stimulates the senses and, for both of you, this mindful activity can be a healthy distraction from the day to day stresses of illness and caregiving. As a diversion, woodworking may carry on giving comfort through loss and grief, and the pieces you make with the person you care for become lasting mementos of a shared life.

Woodworking is a rewarding pastime for a carer. Creating a simple wooden toy or a chest of drawers gives a great sense of achievement and is a pleasurable way to be distracted. Making room in your life for an absorbing hobby is important to your own well being, giving you a welcome respite from daily caring duties and it can be a good way to build connections with new people or strengthen bonds with loved ones.

“Jess Walter is a freelance writer and mother. She loves the freedom that comes with freelance life and the additional time it means she gets to spend with her family and pets.” Jess Walter <jesswalterwriter@gmail.com>

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Healthy Benefits of Gardening


Helping Your Loved One To Carry On Gardening In Later Years

If you are caring for someone in their twilight years, you will know just how important hobbies and recreation are for them, and indeed for you as the caregiver. It’s not just the fact of getting out in the fresh air and having something to do – although this is, of course important. The CDC has carried out research and found that just two hours of gardening per week can have a profound effect on health issues that include blood pressure, depression, maintaining a healthy weight, osteoporosis, and many other conditions.

Clearly, there are plenty of reasons for your loved one to want to carry on gardening for as long as possible – even if they have reduced mobility or other physical or medical conditions that might mean they cannot do quite as much as they used to. How can we make it easier for them?

Choose your battles

There are some activities that are clearly going to be outside the scope of someone who is frail or has restricted mobility. Trimming hedges and cutting grass are prime examples. Outside assistance is going to be necessary with the labor-intensive tasks, and you might consider weighing up the benefits of doing away with the lawn entirely in favor of artificial grass.

Maintaining flower gardens and tending vegetable beds, however, are activities that anyone can enjoy. And if you invest in a few handy tools and accessories, there is nothing to stop your loved one from continuing to enjoy his or her hobby.

Useful tools

Vertical planting beds are ideal, as they negate the need to bend or crouch down. Alternatively, raised beds have a similar effect, and can easily be made from simple containers. Even better, you can put them on casters to make them easy to move around. Also, look out for lightweight gardening equipment such as shears and clippers, or ones with easy-grip handles. These are particularly useful for those with arthritis. At a push, you can adapt existing tools using plastic tubing, foam, and tape.

Stay safe, and enjoy the garden

Take care to keep walkways clear, and sweep them regularly to avoid slip hazards. Make sure there is plenty of shade for those hot summers days, and ensure any injuries or even minor scratches are treated promptly. Finally, provide plenty of seating, so that your loved one can take time to rest and enjoy the garden – it doesn’t all have to be work, work work!

Jess Walter  is a freelance writer and mother. She loves the freedom that comes with freelance life and the additional time it means she gets to spend with her family and pets and can be reached at jessalterwriter@gmail.com

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Is There A Connection Between Dementia and Dirty Air?


Today we welcome a contribution from freelance writer  Jess Walters to “The Purple Jacket”

Why Caregivers Should Monitor Air Quality

Caring for a loved one is a heavy burden, and you’ll want to do the best you can for them. Some of the duties you will perform as a carer are quite typical, such as feeding, shopping and cleaning. However, there are other less obvious things to consider when looking after someone. A topic that isn’t usually at the forefront of people’s minds is the quality of air.

Scientists believe that there may be a link between polluted air which is high in magnetite, and dementia. People with dementia have elevated levels of magnetite in their brains. Therefore, it is vital that the air is clean for yourself and your loved one. You can do this by using a portable air purifier, and by purchasing high quality filters for your HVAC, which will screen smaller particles in the air.

A silent buildup of tiny magnets in the brain sounds like science fiction, but researchers say it’s reality for adults who live in cities, thanks to air pollution. Now, they’re trying to find out if high levels of magnetite, a particle found in dirty air, can cause Alzheimer’s. They’re concerned because Alzheimer’s patients also have lots of magnetite in their brains. It’s not yet clear if elevated brain magnetite levels are a cause or an effect of dementia, but magnetite is hardly the only air pollutant, and there’s no question that cleaner air is better for your health. Here are some tips for clearing the air for yourself and your parents.

Keep an eye on local air quality

Local industries, pollen, dust storms, and wildfires can create health hazards for seniors, especially those with allergies, asthma, and lung diseases. Most local weather forecasts now include information on daily air quality, including the types and amounts of pollutants such as ozone and dust. You can also visit the Environmental Protection Agency’s real-time national air quality map at AirNow, enter your zip code or and see local air quality and tomorrow’s forecast.

When the pollutants and pollen are high, it may be best to stay indoors or at least avoid exercising outdoors. You may be tempted to put on a mask and get on with outdoor activities despite the dirty air, but health experts warn that thick, tight-fitting masks that can filter out pollution particles may also make it harder to breathe. Read the rest of this guide here.

“Jess Walter  is a freelance writer and mother. She loves the freedom that comes with freelance life and the additional time it means she gets to spend with her family and pets.” Jess Walter <jesswalterwriter@gmail.com>

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