HOBBIES ARE GOOD FOR YOUR HEALTH

Do you have a hobby? Hobbies can give meaning and purpose to your life in retirement. As Robert Putnam points out in his book, Bowling Alone, it’s easy to discount the importance of hobbies and social engagements. Putnam details the widespread decline in civic engagement, from PTA memberships to neighborhood potlucks and bowling leagues. Over a couple of generations, Americans have misplaced the concept of free time.

SPECIAL PLANS FOR YOUR SPECIAL PEOPLE

Lily is a beautiful, active and full of personality toddler who happens to have Down syndrome. Lily’s parents and I have been friends for years and I have the continuing pleasure of watching Lily and her siblings grow up. While Lily is becoming a physical therapy rock star and hitting all her milestones in a timely fashion, her parents have started planning for the future.

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WHY WE ENJOY OUR HOBBIES

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a hobby as “a pursuit outside one’s regular occupation, engaged in especially for relaxation.” Hobbies include anything from playing a musical instrument to gardening, bird watching or sewing. A hobby is a way of focusing on something you enjoy just for the sake of that enjoyment. It may also be a way to clear your mental palette. You could be stressed out by a situation at work or the challenges of raising children and need an escape.

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Picking up groceries, running errands or doing laundry or yard work. If your assistance is declined, continue to express your desire to help. Take over a casserole or muffins or, if you’re a neighbor, sweep or shovel the walk or bring in the garbage bins.


7. Surprise the caregiver with a treat.

Ideas include a movie, a favorite magazine, fresh flowers or a plant or a gift certificate to a restaurant that delivers.


8. Give them a break.

Offer to sit with the care receiver for an hour while they go to a hair appointment or out to lunch with friends, or for a longer stretch so they can attend a concert, play or sporting event.


9. Locate resources.

Offer to obtain information about community support services and encourage their use as appropriate.


10. Join the local chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.

Your support will assist them in providing aid not only to your friend or relative but also to other AD caregivers. Membership also makes a thoughtful gift for the caregiver.


11. Watch for signs of trouble.

Encourage the caregiver to seek help from their primary care physician or a social worker if they feel overwhelmed or hopeless or if they start to fear for their safety or their care receiver’s.


12. Stand by them.

Praise the caregiver’s efforts and be an ongoing source of encouragement. In particular, support them if they decide to place their care receiver in a long- term care residence – a difficult but usually necessary decision at some point in the disease process. Do whatever you can to help them and their care receiver with the transition.

12 WAYS TO HELP AN ALZHEIMERS CAREGIVER

strategies for managing challenging behavior.


3. Lend an ear.

Listen non-judgmentally and demonstrate compassion. Don’t give unsolicited advice.


4. Connect them with other caregivers.

Locate caregiver support groups (contact the local office on aging or Alzheimer’s Association chapter) and encourage the caregiver to try one. Offer to stay with their care receiver while they attend meetings.


5. Promote self-care.

Encourage the caregiver to eat nutritiously, exercise and get sufficient rest to maintain good health. Also encourage them to get regular medical checkups. Offer to stay with the care receiver while they attend appointments.


6. Provide practical help.

Determine what kind of assistance the caregiver could use most. Perhaps it’s

LISA M. PETSCHE

Lisa M. Petsche is a social worker and a freelance writer specializing in boomer and senior health matters. She has personal and professional experience with eldercare.

more articles by lisa m. petsche

One in 10 Americans over age 65 years and almost half of those over age 85 years have Alzheimer’s disease or a related type of dementia.


Alzheimer’s disease (AD), the most common form of dementia, involves a gradual breakdown of nerve cells in the brain. Affected persons lose the ability to interpret information and send messages to their bodies to behave in certain ways. Over time they experience mental, emotional, behavioral and physical changes, necessitating increasing amounts of supervision and, eventually, hands-on help with activities of daily living. Family members provide most – in many cases all – of that care. They risk developing depression and other health problems due to the emotional strain and physical toll of caregiving over time.


Here are a dozen things you, as a friend or relative, can do to help prevent an Alzheimer’s caregiver you know from wearing down and losing hope.


1. Keep in touch.

Recognize you may have to make most of the effort in maintaining the relationship. But it is worth it.


2. Become informed.

Educate yourself about AD to help you understand the kinds of challenges caregivers face and share information with family and friends. Share your findings with the caregiver as well, especially