Perform an online search for the phrase “activities for seniors” and you’ll likely find a collection of memory stimulation puzzles, crafts, games, and of course, the requisite bingo. What you will not find, unless you search much more, are the meaningful, philanthropic activities that bring purpose to our lives. Yet, if you ask aging adults what they would most like to do, the majority of them will not mention art projects, games, or bingo. What they want above all is to feel useful.
The University of Minnesota reveals facts on how the most vulnerable times in our lives are our initial year of life and our first year following retirement. The loss of a sense of purpose that comes from a fulfilling occupation can result in significant health concerns – and even an earlier mortality rate, if that sense of purpose is not redefined in some way to let the senior experience a continuing sense of being useful.
One extremely powerful program, the Baltimore Experience Corps, pairs seniors with young children in schools that are understaffed, furnishing them with the priceless opportunity to mentor, provide help with reading skills, and serve as a warm and nonjudgmental buddy to the children. And they are undoubtedly helping themselves in the process too. As Michelle Carlson, Ph.D., of the Department of Mental Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health notes, “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 aiding aging adults who have Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia, it may take a bit of creativity to identify enriching activities that encourage their sense of purpose and meaning. Providing home care services in Santa Barbara and the surrounding area, Complete Care at Home offers the recommendations below to help get you started:
- Explore local and national agencies that assist those in need – the homeless, veterans, animals, women and children in impoverishment or crisis, etc.
- Find out if these organizations have any volunteer options that older individuals or those with cognitive difficulties could help with, such as:
- Organizations like Mothers Against Drunk Driving have ribbon campaigns that involve folding, cutting, and stapling lengths of ribbon to cards for distribution.
- Pet shelters and humane societies are often in need of donated towels and blankets that can be cleaned and folded at home; or aging adults and family members could make homemade pet treats together, or possibly even take dogs for walks together or pet and give attention to the cats.
- Create care packages for veterans or the homeless with travel-sized toiletries, snacks, etc.
- Work on coloring pages or other uncomplicated crafts together, letting the older person know they will be provided to a local domestic crisis shelter to brighten the day for women and children.
Make sure the older person has opportunities to assist with as many duties as possible around the home: sorting and folding laundry, snapping beans, setting the table – letting the senior know how much his or her help is required and appreciated.
At Complete Care at Home, our Santa Barbra home care services go beyond simply providing care in the home; our caregivers are devoted to helping seniors live lives full of meaning and purpose. For more tips on helping older individuals maintain the highest quality of life, call us any time at 805-727-3445 and discover why we’re known for providing the kind of senior home care Santa Barbara and other surrounding areas trust most . To learn more about the different areas we serve in California, please visit our Service Area page.