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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streamline tasks and learn to settle for less than perfection. Take things one day at a time so you don’t become overwhelmed. Learn to live in the moment and focus on life’s simpler pleasures.


Practice Self-Care.

Set aside quiet time each day to nurture your spirituality and help keep you grounded. Do something that provides you with meaning and purpose outside of the caregiving role, such as scrapbooking, journaling or researching your family tree. Look after your own health. Eat nutritious meals, get adequate rest and exercise and see your primary care physician regularly. Find something relaxing you can do every day – perhaps reading or listening to music. Schedule regular breaks. Take a couple of hours, a day or an overnight. You’ll be more effective when you resume your caregiving tasks.


Connect.

Stay connected to your friends. Find a person you can talk to openly –someone who will listen and empathize. It’s important to express your thoughts and feelings. Talk with other caregivers. Join a support group in your community or on the Internet.


Get Help.

Accept offers of help. Ask other family members to pitch in, being specific about what you need. Take advantage of outpatient and in-home services in your community. For referrals to such programs and resources, call the American Cancer Society Helpline at 1-800-227- 2345 or go online to www.cancer.org and use the Live Chat feature.

WHEN CANCER HITS CLOSE TO HOME

all emotions. Don’t try to talk him out of his feelings, discourage his tears or change the subject because of your discomfort. Involve your relative (if he’s able) and other key family members in decision-making as much as possible. Don’t shoulder all the responsibility. Ask questions and express concerns when meeting with health care professionals. Bring a notebook to appointments. Keep other loved ones informed of changes in your relative’s treatment plan and health status. Consult with your relative first to determine how much information he is comfortable sharing.


Prepare.

Find out what caregiving skills, medical equipment and community supports will likely be needed. Talk with your relative about her wishes. Discuss living arrangements, outside help, surrogate decision-making, medical intervention, end-of-life care and funeral arrangements. Be careful not to make promises you may not be able to keep. Help your relative complete advance directives, powers of attorney and a will.


Simplify.

Eliminate as many sources of stress in your life as possible. Set priorities,

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

A diagnosis of cancer is life changing for both the person diagnosed and those close to him or her. Not only does it cause anxiety and fear, but it also launches all of them into a whole new world of medical information and procedures. Life suddenly revolves around consultations, tests and treatments, and the outcome is uncertain. If the diagnosed person has pre-existing health conditions, such as dementia, the care needs are multiplied.


If you are caring for a relative with cancer, here are some things you can do to help manage the stress.


Accept.

Accept the reality of the illness. Let go of any bitterness resulting from interrupted plans and dreams so you can channel your energy in constructive ways. Allow yourself to experience all the emotions that surface. Bear in mind cancer affects people physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Although there may be similarities, no two people will experience it the same way. Accept that the way your relative feels and what he or she can do may fluctuate. Be flexible about plans and expectations.


Communicate.

Allow yourself time to adjust to your relative’s illness and the changes required. Your relative will also need time to adapt. Be patient and keep communication lines open. Allow your relative to express any and