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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Practice relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing or meditation.


Learn to be flexible about plans and expectations. Take things one day at a time so you don’t get overwhelmed.


Set priorities and stick to them. And let go of the need for perfection.


Be receptive to learning new ways of doing things and trying new activities. Encourage your care receiver to do the same.


Be open to learning skills such as proper transferring and bathing techniques. Not only will this make caregiving safer and easier, but mastering these tasks will also give your self-confidence a boost.


Find out about community services that can help maximize your care receiver’s quality of life and assist you with necessary tasks. Potential sources of information include your care receiver’s doctor and other participating health professionals, the Internet, non-profit organization associated with your care receiver’s health condition and the local office on aging.


Develop a partnership with involved healthcare professionals. Share relevant information about your care receiver’s needs, abilities and preferences and any other information that may help with care planning. Ask questions, seek advice and offer opinions and suggestions as appropriate. Never forget you’re an important member of your care receiver’s care team.


Start a scrapbook of inspiration: collect quotations, positive articles, heartwarming stories and inspirational photos and keep them in a binder or scrapbook.


Connect with other caregivers. Join a community support group or find an Internet group if it’s hard to get out.


Don’t neglect your own physical health: Eat nutritious meals, get adequate rest, exercise and have regular medical checkups.


Seek help from your primary care physician or a counselor if you continually feel sad, angry or overwhelmed. Such emotions may be symptomatic of clinical depression, a legitimate and treatable illness.


Set aside some quiet time each day; it nurtures your spirituality and helps keep you grounded.


Schedule regular breaks from caregiving duties and plan to do something fun. This helps recharge your batteries.


Finally, count your blessings and learn to live in the moment, enjoying life’s simpler pleasures.  

KEEP YOUR SPIRITS UP TO PREVENT BURN OUT

Recognize that even when the going gets tough, you always have a choice about how to respond.


Stay connected to people who care. Minimize contact with individuals who are judgmental.Find an outlet for expressing your thoughts and feelings, such as talking with a friend or keeping a journal.


Pick your battles; don’t make a major issue out of every concern. Let the little things go.


Don’t dwell on past mistakes, hurts or other unpleasant events. Look for the good in people and situations. Give others the benefit of the doubt and practice forgiveness.


Do something you enjoy every day.


Read or listen to music. Identify sources of stress in your life, then eliminate as many of them as possible and learn to manage the rest.

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

Caring for a chronically ill, disabled or medically frail person can offer many rewards, but it also involves physical, psychological, emotional and financial demands. Family caregivers may experience a variety of distressing emotions, including frustration, guilt, resentment, anxiety and sadness.


If you are a caregiver, here are some suggestions for keeping your spirits up in day-to-day life, which can reduce the risk of wearing down and burning out.


Emphasize the Positive


Limit your exposure to the news.


Use positive self-talk. Emphasize phrases such as “I can” and “I choose.”


Cultivate a healthy sense of humor. Read the comics, watch a TV sitcom or rent funny movies.


Accept realities you can’t change and concentrate on those you can influence.


Focus on your care receiver’s abilities rather than their limitations and build on those strengths.