Are you struggling with the frustration of always doing something for someone else and having a mile long to do list that leaves no time for fun? This can be a common frustration for caregivers, who are maintaining two households and are stretched between caring for an aging relative and their own family.
Before you get to the point of frustration and resentment, it is important to find ways to incorporate downtime and play into your life. You may not be able to do it regularly, but even having fun things to look forward to can change your mindset.
Finding the right activities that you can involve your caree in can be hugely beneficial to both of you. Regardless of their cognitive or physical ability, there is something for everyone. You just need to have an open mind or get creative.
Feed your minds by participating in cultural activities in your community. Many museums have a free day that you and your caree can take advantage of. You can visit most museums even if your caree is wheelchair bound.
You can also enjoy free summer concerts in your community, or take your parent to the symphony. My aunt had a stroke and has little short term memory. We took her to a summer concert in my neighborhood that featured a Latin band. She had a blast. Remember, music is highly beneficial to those with dementia and just plain enjoyable to everyone else.
Just Get Out:
My grandmother loved going to the mall and having lunch with us. Even when she was in a wheelchair, we pushed her through the mall and ate at her favorite restaurant every Saturday. Just because your parent doesn’t need to buy something new, doesn’t mean they wouldn’t enjoy spending an hour or two people-watching at the mall.
If your parent hates shopping, is there another activity that they would enjoy that gets them out of the house? I used to take a woman with dementia to the beach every week. We’d park the car and I would push her wheelchair on the sidewalk and she would just watch the ocean. The beach is my favorite relaxing place, so it was a special treat for me as well.
Participating in creative activities, even if you’re not creatively inclined, can have a positive impact on health by creating a sense of purpose and keeping the mind busy. Take an art class together or learn to knit or crochet together.
There are so many low-cost or free classes that you can both take part in. Many libraries and senior centers offer free creative classes. You can also take a class at a community center, community college or a private business. If you don’t feel like taking a long-term class, consider a drop-in option. I have seen a number of wine and art locations in my community. There is also the Color Me Mine chain and I just learned about a cake decorating drop in center, which I’ll be checking out with my mom and son.
I know your to do list is never ending and you are juggling many things, but at the end of the day, you only get one life. The to dos will always be there, but you don’t want to live your life so focused on the busy, that you don’t actually enjoy it. Leave the laundry piles and dirty dishes behind. They will still be there tomorrow. Take some time to enjoy your parent’s company and nourish your minds.