As caregivers, we do many roles, and one that often goes unnoticed is that of an “engagement coordinator.” Indeed, our duty extends beyond basic care; we’re also tasked with ensuring our elderly charges remain mentally active, content, and, most importantly, joyful.
Recognising the importance of this role is vital. While it might seem like a delightful responsibility, it can be emotionally taxing, especially when caring for someone with health challenges that limit their participation in activities.
So, how can we effectively engage and entertain our elderly loved ones at home? Drawing from the insights of the Mobilise Community, here are some top recommendations:
Brain-Boosting Puzzle Books:
Engaging in puzzles isn’t just fun; it’s a brain workout. Opt for puzzle books or magazines that challenge the mind, offering a break from passive activities like watching TV. Besides entertainment, puzzles can enhance cognitive functions and memory. They also serve as a healthier alternative to endless social media browsing, which can sometimes be distressing.
Gentle Physical Activities:
Physical engagement is as crucial as mental stimulation. This doesn’t necessarily mean rigorous exercises. Consider a calming stretching session, a walk around the garden, or even a simple dance session in the living room. As one caregiver shared, “Our evenings sometimes turn into mini dance parties with our favourite tracks, lifting everyone’s spirits.”
Dive into Arts and Crafts:
Creative activities can be therapeutic. Whether it’s crafting a scrapbook, trying out a painting tutorial, or undertaking a DIY project, the possibilities are endless. If diving into arts seems daunting, there are numerous resources to simplify the process and make it more accessible.
Cooking and Culinary Adventures:
Preparing meals can be a delightful bonding activity. Even if they can’t be involved in the actual cooking, they can play roles like taste-testing or selecting the day’s playlist. Discussing food can also evoke cherished memories. Engage them with questions like, “What’s a childhood dish you loved?” or “How can we tweak this recipe to make it our own?”
Movie Nights at Home:
A classic way to relax and bond. Create a mini theatre experience with their favourite films, some popcorn, and perhaps a cozy blanket for added comfort.
Explore the World of Audiobooks:
Reading transports us to different worlds. If physical reading is challenging, audiobooks or podcasts are excellent alternatives. Platforms like Borrowbox allow users to access a plethora of audiobooks for free.
Tailored Activities for Specific Conditions:
If your loved one has a particular condition that makes standard activities challenging, seek guidance from specialized organizations. For instance:
Alzheimer’s Society offers activity ideas for individuals with dementia.
Age UK provides an extensive directory of activities tailored for the elderly.
Parkinson’s-focused platforms offer physical activity videos and therapeutic sessions.
Lastly, Self-care is Paramount:
While our primary focus is on those we care for, it’s essential to remember our well-being too. On days when the weight of responsibilities feels too much, it’s okay to opt for simpler activities or seek assistance from friends or family. Prioritizing our mental and physical health ensures we provide the best care possible, both for ourselves and our loved ones.