Boredom is an important quality of life issue for many senior citizens. When it comes to elderly home care or assisted living facilities, family caregivers must ensure that the physical, mental and emotional needs of seniors are being met. Those taking care of parents at home must also strive to provide stimulating activities in order to prevent loved ones from sinking into a pit of depression that’s hard to climb out of. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), older Americans are more likely to commit suicide than any other age group. As noted by NIMH, nearly 16% of suicide deaths in the country were those 65 years of age or older. Boredom that leads to depression is a major factor in many homes, senior health care facilities and assisted living homes. It is up to family caregivers to reduce such risks when it comes to taking care of our elderly population.
Aging is a process — boredom is the danger
No one likes to be bored, at any age. Senior citizens are no different. Your parents have led productive and active lives, but may suddenly find themselves ill or injured to the point where they can’t get around as well as they used to. Those individuals are at an increased risk of boredom and feelings of uselessness, which may lead to severe episodes of depression. Preventing such feelings should be a major concern of health care providers and caregivers to the elderly — as high on the list of importance as adequate medical care and supervision.
Boredom leads to multiple emotional issues, including:
- Feelings of worthlessness
- Feeling that life is no longer worth living
- Feelings of intense restlessness
- Feeling unloved or uncared about
Such issues are extremely difficult to tackle, so preventing them in the first place is the best approach to fighting the debilitating effects of boredom and depression. How can caregivers fight boredom?
Develop new interests
Family caregivers can encourage parents to develop new interests at any age. Who says you have to be in school to learn a new language or skill? Studies have shown that stimulating the mind can help exercise not only the body, but the brain as well. Learning something new at any age helps promote new neural cell growth, improves concentration and increases adequate oxygenation, creating healthier, more active cells.
Caregivers of seniors at all age levels, physical ability and mental acuity can find new, stimulating activities for the elderly through a variety of brain teasers, physical movement, or social interaction.
Such activities don’t need to be complicated. The National Institute of Aging has identified regular stimulation as a major factor in quality of life between groups of seniors with disparate physical capabilities (for example, an 85-year-old who competes in a marathon as opposed to a 65-year-old woman who is bedridden). Those seniors who age well are less likely to suffer from chronic illness and physical limitations.
“Older adults were also quite similar to younger adults in how much of their attention was captured involuntarily,” notes a study by Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center. “Even as we age, the brain’s ability to engage multisensory attention remains intact.”
Encourage seniors to develop an attitude!
Encourage your mother to tackle that crossword puzzle. Coax your dad into taking up a new hobby. Caregivers of the elderly should constantly offer new and stimulating activities to those in their care. Start a storytelling circle with Dad or learn French with Mom. The possibilities are endless.
Seniors who require home health care or those living in long-term care facilities suffer from an increase in depression and depression symptoms over those who do not. Don’t let your parent become a statistic. Place the fight against boredom and depression at the top of treatment plans for senior care.