Enhancing life every day
Recent studies have proven that boredom and depression can have a very real effect on physical, emotional and mental health. This doesn't just apply to teens or thirty-somethings. Actually, for seniors, boredom and depression can be lethal. Caregivers are often advised on methods to alleviate their own depression after long periods of caregiving, but what about the elderly being taken care of? Are their needs being met?
Sure, we all slow down as we grow older, but we need to keep our parents and elders engaged in activities that help them maintain mobility and keep them engaged and interested in life.
Depression is a treatable illness. Social isolation and loneliness are risk factors for depression and suicide. The National Strategy for Suicide Prevention (2002) has repeatedly advised health care industry caregivers that the generation of baby boomers is at increased risk for depression and boredom. The June 19, 2003, issue of the New England Journal of Medicine released results of a five-year study that found seniors who regularly joined in mentally stimulating activities enjoyed a reduced risk of dementia.
What are some ways family caregivers can help prevent such a rise in depression or physical decline caused by inactivity?
Depending on the physical and cognitive capabilities of your parent, consider the following ways in which you can help him or her stay active and engaged in life:
Get your parent involved in some type of social interaction
Encourage your parent to exercise
Teach your mom or dad how to play video games
Create a memoir, a memory book, or a family legacy
Continue or take up a new hobby
Keeping busy is not merely a matter of movement. Activities for the elderly can also be geared toward those who have physical and/or mental limitations. A few suggestions for senior activities that cater to such limits include:
Enriching every day
It's not always easy to find just the right activity that might help pull a lonely, sad or frustrated parent out of the house, out of a funk or even relieve depression, but it's your responsibility to try. After all, you wouldn't like to sit around all day with nothing to do, so why should your parent? Even better, look for senior activities that you can join in on as well, which will help build bonding and understanding, and will also prepare you for your own future needs.