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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Some caregivers are fortunate to have friends or relatives nearby who are able and willing to provide regular or periodic respite. Others, however, must rely on formal help. Here are some factors to consider when choosing a respite service:


•  the type of assistance needed, such as companionship, supervision or personal care;

•  the special medical or behavioral needs, communication challenges and eccentricities of the care recipient;

•  the length and frequency of desired breaks;

•  the cost, including whether a subsidy is available or if insurance will cover it; and

•  the setting.


Also consider transportation issues as well as the care recipient’s energy level, personality and any preferences he or she might have.


If you decide to seek private in-home help, arrange to meet with a potential helper in your home after performing a telephone interview. Prepare a list of questions in advance to help you determine the person’s qualifications and suitability. Provide a comprehensive description of your care recipient’s needs and your expectations. Pay close attention to the way the candidate interacts with your care receiver. Ask for and check references, both educational and employment related, and do a police check for anyone you’re considering.


If you wish to pursue care in an adult day center or residential care facility, take some tours and talk with staff and clients. Involve your relative in the process, if feasible.

If you provide care to a chronically ill or older family member, you may be aware of the importance of taking a break from care-giving duties and having arrangements in place that allow for this. If not, this article is for you.


Although care-giving can be extremely rewarding, it can also be quite stressful over time. That’s why it’s important for caregivers to have respite, ideally on a regular basis.


Health care professionals encourage caregivers to take breaks in order to attend not only to things on their to-do list they have been putting off , but especially to take care of their personal needs and maintain their individuality.


Benefits of a Break


When practiced regularly, respite helps keep the stresses of care-giving manageable, preventing burnout, a common phenomenon manifested by physical or mental health problems.


The benefits of respite extend to care receivers as well: They get a fresh approach to care and perhaps more individualized attention from the alternate caregiver. If respite takes place in the community, it

RESPITE IS A MUST FOR CAREGIVERS

provides a stimulating change of environment and a chance to socialize with others as well as to participate in new or previously enjoyed activities.


Respite Care Options


In-home respite may be provided by a health care aide employed by a government agency or hired directly by the caregiver through a home health care agency; an individual with or without formal training hired under a private arrangement (most oft en located via word of mouth or newspaper classified advertising); a trained volunteer (for example, someone from the local Alzheimer’s Association); or a relative or friend.


Community-based respite options include caregiver support groups that offer concurrent care; adult day care centers that provide social and recreational programming and often include a midday meal; and residential care facilities that have a short-stay program.


Selection Factors

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