Creating Sacred Spaces: Autonomy & Self-Expression for Aging Loved Ones

A sacred space is any place you feel comfortable, where you can escape from the stress and pressures of life. Creating a sacred space doesn’t have to be religious at all. Think of an oasis, a private sanctum. It is simply a place worthy of respect, that means something important to you. Helping your aging loved-one maintain their sacred space in the home can be important for their self-expression and improve their connection to their own stories. It could be as simple as planting fresh herbs and flowers in the backyard, drawing a hot bath or decluttering a bedroom.

Here are a few different ideas for making a space sacred:

1. Arrange a corner of a room with a favorite chair, a music player, and a favorite book.

2. Put up a grouping of family photos, or pictures of places that are important to your loved one.

3. Purchase a photo box where they can display pictures and images that inspire them.

4. If your loved-ones enjoying creating things, set up a box with tools for their craft and a display area to showcase their work.

5. Plant a garden in a corner of the yard or place potted plants inside where they can watch them grow.   

6. Engage the senses by including fresh flowers, scented candles, a soothing massage, cozy textiles, enjoyable music, a favorite drink, meaningful art, etc.

As we age, we can lose our autonomy slowly over time or all at once in the instance of a debilitating illness or injury. It is crucial that individuals continue to have a space that they have control over, where they are free and most importantly comfortable. Making decisions - no matter how small - is important for the mind and the spirit. The spaces we live in should tell our story and exhibit our independence.  

As Winston Churchill said, “We shape our dwellings, and afterward our dwellings shape us.” 

Published on August 31, 2017.