Search online for “activities for seniors” and you’ll probably find a number of games, crafts, memory-stimulating puzzles, and of course, the requisite bingo. What you will not find, unless you search quite a bit more, are the purposeful, philanthropic activities that bring meaning and purpose to our lives. And yet, if you ask older individuals what they would most like to do, the majority of them will not mention bingo, art projects and games. What they want above all is to feel useful.
The University of Minnesota reveals information on how the most vulnerable times in our lives are the first year of life, and our first year after retirement. The loss of a sense of usefulness discovered in a rewarding occupation can result in extensive health concerns – and even an earlier mortality rate, if that sense of meaning is not redefined in some way to empower the senior to experience a continuing sense of being useful.
One very powerful program, the Baltimore Experience Corps, pairs older individuals with young children in schools that are understaffed, providing them with the invaluable chance to mentor, assist with reading skills, and serve as a welcoming and nonjudgmental buddy to the children. And they are undeniably helping themselves in the process also. As Michelle Carlson, Ph.D., of the Department of Mental Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health points out, “By helping others, participants are helping themselves in ways beyond just feeding their souls. They are helping their brains. The brain shrinks as part of aging, but with this program we appear to have stopped that shrinkage and are reversing part of the aging process.”
When providing caregiving at home for someone with Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia, it could take a bit of creativity to identify enriching activities that increase their sense of purpose and meaning. Providing exceptional elder care in Ashland and the surrounding area, All Care In-Home Care Solutions offers the tips below to help get you started:
- Look into local and nationwide organizations that assist those in need – the homeless, veterans, animals, women and children in poverty or a crisis situation, etc.
- Determine if these companies have any volunteer opportunities that older individuals or those with cognitive impairment could provide assistance with, such as:
- Organizations like Mothers Against Drunk Driving have ribbon campaigns that call for folding, cutting, and stapling lengths of ribbon to cards for distribution.
- Pet shelters and humane societies often need donated towels and blankets that need to be washed and folded at home; or older individuals and family members may be able to prepare homemade pet treats together, or possibly even take dogs for walks together or cuddle with the kittens.
- Create care packages for the homeless or veterans with travel-sized toiletries, snacks, etc.
- Work on coloring pages or other simple crafts together, letting the older person know they will be shared with a local domestic crisis shelter to brighten the day for women and children.
Make sure the older adult has opportunities to help with as many projects as possible around the home: sorting and folding laundry, snapping beans, setting the table – letting the person know how much his or her help is required and valued.
At All Care In-Home Care Solutions, our home care services go beyond just providing care in the home; our caregivers are committed to helping seniors live lives full of purpose and meaning. For more tips on helping older adults maintain the highest quality of life, reach out to us any time at (541) 857-9195.