They say “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” How true do you think that is? Could boredom be any more prevalent in the lives of retired seniors?
At retirement, a lot of things change. For one, older people may have more physical complaints and chronic diseases. They can lose energy quickly, move slower, and often have poor eyesight and hearing. Above all, they may not have much to do. Their children may have other immediate family members to care for and/or moved to another place and are not available for frequent visits.
If your client resides in a home or facility, the new environment, the unfamiliar routine, and the “less-than-friendly” people can cause a lot of stress. They often cannot do the things they love, and can feel they have lost their sense of purpose. Their situation can be not just frustrating, but boring.
If you are a caregiver and you see that your older client is uncooperative, disruptive, or constantly making excuses to avoid joining activities, or worse, they are frequently eloping, you have to be extra creative in keeping them active and busy.
FIRST, KNOW YOUR CLIENT AND THEIR PREFERENCES. Genuinely care about what your client wants and make conversation with them. Some clients are shy, but it does not mean that they are immobile. Ask them what they love to do. Let them talk about previous hobbies and how they make friends. Although the structure of activities in a home or facility can be the same for everyone, the approach may be unique for each client.
MAKE STRUCTURED ACTIVITIES A LITTLE MORE SPECIAL FOR THEM. Give them a reason to stand up and go, perhaps by letting them bring their favorite picture frame or photo album.
MAKE PLANS WITH YOUR CLIENT. Planning gives clients something to look forward to. How about a surprise party for a roommate or relative who is going to visit? With this strategy, you engage not only their physical body but also their minds, which can make them want to socialize.
ORGANIZE CLUBS ACCORDING TO HOBBIES. You will need the cooperation and approval of the rest of the staff for this, but your efforts would not be in vain. Sewing clubs, book clubs, scrapbooking clubs…anything goes as long as their health allows it!
WALK WITH THEM. This is the introvert's perfect activity. Walking with clients is great exercise for them. A walk provides a quiet distraction that takes them away from their routine for a few minutes. It will also be a good time to connect with your client so they can talk about how they feel.
INTRODUCE THE INTERNET IF YOUR CILENT IS STILL UNFAMILIAR WITH IT. The internet is a modern photo and video gallery. Since older people often enjoy visiting their relatives and reminiscing, the virtual way of doing so might be just the trick to lighten their mood.
IF YOUR CLIENT’S CONDITION ALLOWS IT, LET THEM TEACH. Elders are a source of great knowledge. Their years of experience put them at the expert level of many things. Other than stimulating their minds, it can encourage a sense of purpose by helping them feel like a productive part of society.
Over the coming years, it is already expected that healthcare will become more welcoming to older people who will need special attention to keep them active, healthy, and happy. Caregivers must be prepared for this period by working passionately to make it the best part of their career.
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