Guest post by Emma Banks – Carer for her elderly father
Though their mobility and activity levels may change as they continue to age, it’s important to keep your elderly parent engaged as they enjoy a well-rounded life. Studies show that boredom and depression lead to forgetfulness, which make it even more important to help your elderly loved one find hobbies that they love and can easily do at home or with friends. Some of the best ways to keep Mum or Dad happy and positive include:
Get them on an exercise plan that works for them
Physical fitness is a huge part of keeping your elderly parent feeling good. Regardless of their ability level, you can find some form of physical activity that works for them. Popular options include swimming, walking, and Tai chi. You may even consider joining them for regular workouts, as this lets you spend quality time together, while making sure that your parent is staying active. As an added bonus, studies show that when an older person is exercising regularly, they will enjoy better mobility, fewer physical ailments, and a more positive outlook on life.
Find a replacement for the TV
Some older people are more comfortable at home, which is fine, but sitting in front of the TV all day just isn’t a stimulating way to live. If your elderly parent spends a lot of time at home, encourage them to use these hours to read books on new subjects, browse the Internet for blogs or articles they find interesting, or to start a scrapbook. These activities are much more active than just sitting in front of the TV, and will leave them feeling far more satisfied.
Get them something to care for
Depending on your parent’s energy level, consider getting them a pet or a plant to care for. Many older people explain that they feel out of place when they no longer have young children or a spouse to care for. Getting them a pet, whether it’s a bird, fish, dog, or cat, helps them to feel as if they have a purpose. If you don’t think your parent has the ability to care for a pet, you can get them a plant. They’ll still enjoy watering the plant and watching it grow, plus the green adds life and energy to the home.
Make the home comfortable
Ultimately if your parent doesn’t feel at ease in their own home, they’ll quickly become depressed and anxious. There are several steps you can take to make sure Mum or Dad love where they live. Start by removing any unnecessary clutter or rubbish from the space so that it feels neat and tidy. This also helps to eliminate any tripping hazards, making it easier for them to navigate around the space without worrying about slipping. I also try to keep the kitchen full of good foods and drinks for Dad. Everything from fresh fruit to treats. My father’s favorite chocolates are from a supplier here in the US called Shari’s Berries so I also try to keep a healthy stock of those. In the UK , Cocoa Loco supplies similar.
Take care of any light renovations, such as repainting walls or changing pictures on the wall. Even a few simple touch ups can completely reshape the appearance of a home, making it a much more modern and appealing place to spend time. Make sure that doors and windows are easy to open, and that items are placed within easy reach in cabinets.
If you sense that your parent is still uneasy about living alone, consider bringing in a paid carer a few days per week to help them with basic chores such as light cleaning, grocery shopping, and laundry. In many cases, this can help to make your elderly loved one feel more comfortable in their own space. It also takes some of the stress off of them, as they can enjoy their independence without having to worry about mustering up the energy to deal with the shopping or cleaning up after a meal.
You can play a major role in ensuring that your loved one remains happy and engaged throughout all stages of their life. By getting them into a routine that’s filled with hobbies they love and a comfortable, clean home, you’re helping them to ward off depression and anxiety.