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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Yard Maintenance


•  For gardening, plant low-maintenance flowers and shrubs.

•  Get a mulching lawn mower so you don’t have to bag grass. Or hire a neighborhood youth to cut the grass.


Financial Management


•  Arrange with the bank for direct deposit of pension and other checks.

•  If you have a computer, sign up for Internet banking so you can pay bills, transfer money and check balances from home.


Shopping and Errands


•  Shop by mail order whenever possible.

•  For gift-giving occasions, purchase gift cards.

•  Take advantage of stores and other services that offer home delivery.

•  Research mobile services in your area, such as hairdressing, dog grooming and automobile servicing.

•  Coordinate errands and avoid peak use times of the day, week or month when visiting stores, banks, government offices and other establishments.


Care for Your Relative


•  Find out about community support services, including respite care options, and take advantage of them. Information can be obtained from your local    office on aging.

•  If finances permit, hire a personal support worker or companion for your relative so you can get out more often.


Care for Yourself


•  Look after your health: Eat nutritious meals, get adequate rest and exercise and schedule regular medical checkups.

•  Do something you enjoy every day, such as listening to music.

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

•  Stay connected to the important people in your life.

•  Set aside some quiet time each day.

•  Find an outlet for expressing your thoughts and feelings, such as talking with a friend or keeping a journal.

•  Seek help from your primary care physician or a counselor if you continually feel sad, angry or overwhelmed.

•  Never forget you can only take good care of your relative if you take good care of yourself.

The mild temperatures and increased daylight of summer can positively affect people’s moods and allow new opportunities for enjoyment. On the flip side, summer sun, heat and smog can be harmful to older adults, especially those whose health is already fragile. As a caregiver, you must therefore be extra vigilant as temperatures soar.


Perhaps, like the relative you care for, you have health conditions or take medications that increase your sensitivity to the sun or heat. In any case, if you’re not a fan of balmy weather, you may find yourself feeling not only physically uncomfortable but also irritable, especially during heat waves. To add to caregivers’ stress, some community supports may not operate in the summer. For example, caregiver support groups typically take a hiatus during July and August.


So how can you keep your cool emotionally during the dog days of summer? Here are some suggestions.


General Tips


•  Establish and stick to priorities.

•  Curb perfectionism. Not everything needs to be done to a high standard.

•  Be flexible about plans and expectations. Take things one day at a time.

•  Ask other family members to help out and be specific about

KEEPING YOUR COOL - SUMMERTIME CAREGIVING CAN BE STRESSFUL

what is needed

•  Pay for help if you can afford it. For example, hire a dog walker or housecleaning    service.


Meal Preparation


•  Collect recipes for one-dish meals.

•  Cook double batches of recipes and freeze half for later use.

•  Keep a supply of heat-and-serve entrees in the freezer.

•  Buy convenience foods that reduce preparation time, such as packaged salads.

•  Order takeout once a week.


Housekeeping


•  Concentrate cleaning and tidying efforts on the rooms that are used most.

•  Do full loads of laundry whenever possible.

•  Ensure everyone in the household has enough basic clothing to last for a week.    Stick to easy-care items.

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