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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In such cases, individual counseling may be a better approach.


Some caregiver groups are very general and open to everyone. Others are specific to certain populations, such as caregivers of older adults or caregivers for those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. Some groups are quite structured, with set agendas and built-in time constraints (typically four to six weekly or bi-weekly sessions). Led by health care professionals, including social workers and nurses, these groups are primarily educational in nature and often include guest speakers.


More informal groups focus primarily on emotional support. Member sharing of thoughts, feelings and experiences is key. Facilitators may be experienced caregivers or professionals who work with caregivers. Meetings are usually held monthly, with new members welcomed on an ongoing basis.


How can you tell if you’ve found the right group? After an initial visit, ask yourself:



Highly rated groups also emphasize caregiver strengths, incorporate some humor and include time for social interaction.



Where to Find Information About Caregiver Groups


If you’re a caregiver, you may have already read articles about the importance of preventing burnout. Usually these articles include a suggestion to join a support group. Perhaps you’re reluctant to do so because you wonder what caregiver groups are all about and whether joining one would really help you.


The overall goal of caregiver support groups is to enhance participants’ coping skills through mutual support and information sharing. Objectives may include:


CAREGIVER SUPPORT GROUPS: IS THERE ONE THAT’S RIGHT FOR YOU?

The benefits of group involvement include:



A group setting isn’t suitable for everyone. A caregiver support group may not be as helpful for those who are very shy or private in nature; someone who is self-focused, either because of a personality trait or extreme stress; or those who have significant, often longstanding personal issues (for example, a psychiatric illness or a conflicted relationship with the care recipient).

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