Creating Social Opportunities for Your Parent
Posted on June 10, 2014 by Katy Miller
There is no doubt older adults benefit from social interaction – studies prove it. But, when your mom or dad lives alone, it can be difficult to get them out of the house to spend time with others.
If you can’t persuade them to leave, bring the social interaction to them. For example, arrange for a church member to check in once a week. Most churches have volunteers who love to do this, and it takes the pressure off of you – the caregiver – who may be serving as their only social tie.
Along the same lines, consider setting up a recurring get-together for your parent and his or his friends. If they like books, schedule a monthly book club meeting. Gaming nights are also popular – card games, board games, trivia and even online games are a great way to bring older adults together. Host gatherings at your house so you don’t burden your parent with cleaning and preparing for guests.
Another idea is to run errands withthem rather than forthem. Our tendency is to take care of errands by ourselves so they’re done more efficiently. But, if you have time, take your mom or dad along for the ride. They’ll get the benefit of your company (which they value), as well as interactions with people at the dry cleaners, grocery or department store. Just a few shared trips here and there can make a difference.
Create new friendships by connecting with one of your own friends who is also caring for an aging parent. Introduce your parents to one another. If they hit it off, you’ll all enjoy sharing time visiting with friends, old and new.
Arrange for Meals on Wheels to deliver meals to your mom or dad. Not only do they get a hot, nutritious meal, they also get a happy visitor!
Look past your immediate family to encourage visitors and social outings for your parents. Many times, if you ask a cousin or close family friend to visit your parent, they are happy to oblige.
What about hobbies? Does your parent have a lifelong passion or possess expertise in an area? Perhaps he or she can share their know-how about carpentry or cross-stitching, for instance, with an acquaintance who’s just beginning the hobby.
Remember, keeping your mom or dad engaged does not fall solely on your shoulders. You are understandably busy, so involve others. Reach beyond the four walls of your household to brainstorm ideas for keeping your parent(s) mentally spry during their later years.
And, of course, should you find that this is too much to handle, look into senior living as an alternative. Atria communities, for example, offer a variety of engaging and fun activities to give your parent the social interaction the need to stay sharp and young.
Category: Caregiver Support