Enhancing Daily Life

Adding pleasurable activities to your loved one’s daily life can improve his or her outlook and make the caregiving process go more smoothly.

We all need to find pleasure in our daily lives. Some of the most important care you give won’t have anything to do with medicine, baths, or feeding. A laugh or a shared cup of tea are as important for our wellbeing as a daily dose of vitamins.

Good health is more than a healthy body. You both will live better and enjoy life more if you care for emotional and spiritual needs as well as physical needs.

Encourage Social Contacts

Caring for another person can dramatically change your social life. It may be hard for you to get out and socialize. Friends may no longer come to visit or include you in their activities. You and the person you care for may begin to feel lonely and isolated.

The Following Ideas Will Help You Keep Up Social Contacts.

  • Encourage friends and family to visit.
  • Getting out to visit friends may be difficult for you, but encourage others to visit.
  • Be honest about your limitations. “I’m just not able to invite you for dinner, but we’d love to have you stop by for some ice cream later.”
  • If it’s hard for others to visit, suggest they send cards or letters, or make short phone calls.
  • Help put visitors at ease. If friends seem uncomfortable around the person, explain the illness if that seems helpful. “Jill’s illness isn’t contagious. It does make her short of breath, so talking tires her out.”
  • Offer suggestions for visiting.
  • A successful visit doesn’t have to revolve around conversation only. Read aloud, take a walk outside, play cards, or watch a ball game together; these activities are often more enjoyable for both people.

Find Out About Adult Day Centers And Senior Centers

Adult day centers offer supervised activities for adults with disabilities. People can attend once or several times a week and create craft projects, exercise, join discussion groups, and eat together.

Just as important, these programs give you, the caregiver, regularly scheduled breaks. You can choose to see friends, enjoy a game of golf, or garden or shop without worry.

If you care for an older person, she may enjoy organized activities at a senior center. You and the person you care for may be able to participate in activities together, or you might find separate activities occurring at the same time.

Find out if any centers near you provide meals. Eating the noon meal with other people can be pleasant and you may discover new friends you enjoy.

Include Pleasant Activities In Your Daily Schedule

Research has shown that frequent pleasant activities help reduce symptoms of depression in caregivers and the people they care for.

Several ideas for enjoyable activities are:

  • Share a funny story or joke together.
  • Get outside. Go for a ride, visit a park, drive in the countryside. Go to the zoo.
  • Rent a video, make some popcorn, and have a “night in” at the movies.
  • Bake bread together.
  • Enter contests.
  • Work in the yard together. A person in a wheelchair can water the grass or cut up branches to be disposed of.
  • Call a radio talk-show.
  • Play a board or card game. Change the rules if necessary.
  • Fold laundry together.
  • Look through magazines and find a new recipe to try.
  • Make a tape recording of family stories.
  • Reminisce together. Older people especially enjoy thinking and talking about old and often happier times.

Originally written and published by the Aging and Adult Services Administration Department of Social and Health Services, State of Washington. Reprinted with permission.

© Washington State Department of Social and Health Services

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