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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needs? Will you have your own room and bathroom? How accessible is the home? If adaptations are required, what is the estimated cost and who would pay?


Other Options. Before making a decision, explore alternatives: home healthcare and support services such as meals on wheels; live-in help; home renovations; and moving to a seniors’ apartment complex or assisted living facility.


The Decision. If you accept the offer, consider having a six-month trial period, with the understanding that you will pursue other options if you, your child or other household members feel it’s not working out.


Keep in mind that such a plan involves numerous changes that affect daily living. Everyone will require time to adjust, but challenges can usually be overcome if everyone is committed to making the arrangement work.

When seniors live alone, other people may have concerns about their physical or emotional welfare. Particularly if the senior has health problems or don’t live close by, a son or daughter may invite him or her to move in.


If you receive such an offer, ask yourself the following questions and take time to honestly and thoroughly answer each one before making a decision.


Interpersonal Issues. What kind of relationship do you have with your child? How well do they get along with others in their household? How well do you? If you need help, are you comfortable with the idea of role reversal?


Your Needs and Expectations. Would the move uproot you from important relationships and community connections? If you have a pet, can it be accommodated? If your child has pets, are you comfortable around them? If you have a chronic illness, how are your needs likely to change?


Your Family’s Needs and Expectations. Would you be expected to contribute to the household in practical ways, such as cooking meals or providing child care? Would your child or other household members be willing and able to provide the help you need?

SHOULD YOU MOVE IN WITH YOUR CHILD?

Lifestyle Issues. Do you and your child have similar lifestyles and values? Are differences likely to be a source of tension? How might your needs and preferences affect household members’ routines and responsibilities? Are they prepared to make adjustments?


Available Supports. Would you be within walking distance of a grocery store, pharmacy or bank? What about proximity to a place of worship? Would you be close to public transit routes? Would friends and former neighbors be able to visit? Consider the distance they would have to travel and their transportation options. If you have to move, how easily could you link with needed medical supports, such as a new family doctor? What community services are available to assist in meeting your needs, now or in the future?


Finances. How much would you be expected to contribute toward household expenses? Do you have savings or insurance that would cover the cost of needed medical equipment or healthcare services? If not, who would pay for them?


Home Setup. Is there sufficient space in the home to meet everyone’s privacy

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