Its More Than Just Physical Care

Whether you've been a caregiver for a month or several years, you've no doubt figured out that your loved one requires more than just physical assistance with the daily activities of living. Just like you, a loved one who can observe, listen, or participate in activities enjoys them just because it makes him or her happy.

Discover the kinds of things your loved one did when he or she was younger. It might have been listening to or playing a musical instrument, acting in a high school play, or engaging in book clubs or sporting events. There are many people who share their hobbies and who would be happy to come by now and then to spend time with your loved one. Ask neighbours if they know anyone who engages in similar hobbies or you can go to the local senior center your faith community or post a note at the local library.

My friend Jack always knew that his father loved baseball. They watched games on television together and Jack's most memorable birthday was going with his Dad to see the Yankees play. But Jack was surprised to learn that his father had a respectable collection of baseball cards - some quite old and rare. The discovery gave him an idea. Jack contacted a few of his own baseball-enthusiast friends to come by and see the collection. His father enjoyed showing and explaining the cards and later commented on how he'd been able to teach these "youngsters" a thing or two about baseball history. One of the friends later called to see if Jack's father might like to come and speak to the local Boy Scout troop.

If your loved one is unable to communicate, consider inviting a few members of a church choir or high school chorus members to sing traditional music. If he or she played violin or other instrument, find someone who could come and hold a personal concert. Music is a remarkable feel-good activity. If current events are stimulating then perhaps a friend with that same interest can discuss what's going on in the world today. If your loved one enjoyed playing games or cards set up a time for a few friends to come over and make him or her a part of the game.

Enjoying life doesn't have to end with disability or illness. Be creative in adapting some fun activities. An added benefit is that you will likely have a good time too.

Dr. Amy

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