Perform an online search for the term “activities for seniors” and you’ll likely find a number of games, crafts, memory-stimulating puzzles, and of course, the requisite bingo. What you won’t find, unless you really search much longer, are the purposeful, philanthropic activities that bring meaning and enrichment to our lives. And yet, if you ask aging adults what they would most want to do, the majority of them will not mention art projects, games, or bingo. What they want more than anything is to feel useful.
The University of Minnesota reveals details on how the most vulnerable times in our lives are the first year of life, and the initial year after retirement. Losing a sense of meaning discovered in a fulfilling occupation can bring about major health concerns – and even an earlier mortality rate, if that sense of meaning is not redefined in some way to let the senior experience an ongoing sense of being needed.
One very powerful program, the Baltimore Experience Corps, matches retirees with young children in schools that are understaffed, providing them with the invaluable opportunity to mentor, offer help with reading skills, and serve as a warm and nonjudgmental buddy to the children. And they are certainly helping themselves in the process as well. As Michelle Carlson, Ph.D., of the Department of Mental Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health shares, “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 helping aging adults who have Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia, it may require a bit of creativity to discover enriching activities for seniors that increase their sense of purpose and meaning. As leading providers of advanced home care and rehabilitation services in Mount Pleasant and the surrounding areas, Advanced Home Health Care offers the suggestions below to help get you started:
- Look into local and national organizations that provide help to those in need – the homeless, veterans, animals, women and children in impoverishment or crisis, etc.
- Determine if these companies have any volunteer options that older individuals or those with cognitive impairment could provide help with, such as:
- Organizations like Mothers Against Drunk Driving have ribbon campaigns that necessitate folding, cutting, and stapling lengths of ribbon to cards for distribution.
- Pet shelters and humane societies often need donated towels and blankets that need to be cleaned and folded up at home; or aging adults and family members could prepare homemade pet treats together, or perhaps even take dogs for walks together or snuggle kittens.
- Put together care packages for veterans or the homeless with travel-sized toiletries, snacks, etc.
- Work on coloring pages or other straightforward crafts together, letting the older person know they will be shared with a local domestic crisis center to brighten the day for women and children.
Make sure the older adult has opportunities to help with as many duties as possible around the home: sorting and folding laundry, snapping beans, setting the table – letting the person know how much his or her help is required and appreciated.
Our advanced home care and rehabilitation services in Mount Pleasant, Iowa go beyond simply providing care in the home; our caregivers are committed to helping seniors live lives full of purpose and meaning. For more recommendations on helping seniors maintain the highest quality of life, call us any time at 800.791.7785. For a full list of each of the communities we serve, please visit our Service Area page.