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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The average caregiver serves in this role for four years. Only 30 percent provide care for less than a year. Twenty-four percent provide care for more than five years, and 15 percent of caregivers provide care for 10 years or more.


More information about caregiving can be found at www.caregiver.org/caregiver-statistics-demographics

Though definitions and criteria vary, numerous studies of informal caregiving in the United States generally define a caregiver as an unpaid individual – spouse, partner, family member, friend or neighbor – who assists another person on a regular basis with activities of daily living and/or medical tasks. The caregiver feeds the care receiver if necessary. He or she helps the person dress each morning and undress and prepare for bed each night. A caregiver may help the care receiver use the bathroom. If the care receiver is fully or partially incontinent, the caregiver changes diapers as needed. The caregiver often gives medicines. He or she may take the care recipient’s blood pressure or perform blood sugar tests or other medical procedures and keep a written record for the person’s physician.


About 43.5 million caregivers in the United States provided unpaid care to someone in the past 12 months, as reported by the National Alliance for Caregiving and the AARP. About 34.2 million Americans provided unpaid care to an adult age 50 years or older in 2015. Most of these (82 percent) cared for one other adult, but 15 percent cared for two adults and 3 percent cared for three or more adults. In 2015, the Alzheimer’s Association estimated about 15.7 million family caregivers were caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia.

WHO ARE THE CAREGIVERS?

The average age of home caregivers is 49.2 years. Forty-eight percent are 18 to 49 years old and 34 percent are older than 65 years. The number of hours given to caregiving increases with the age of the caregiver. Caring for parents is the primary situation for caregivers between the ages of 50 and 64 years, with 70 percent of this group involved in parent care.


More than 75 percent of caregivers are female. Women may spend as much as 50 percent more time providing care than men. Sixty-five percent of care receivers are female, with an average age of 69.4 years. However, among caregivers who are spouses aged 75 years or more, both sexes provide equal amounts of care. Caregivers who spend 21 hours or more weekly at caregiving tasks are nearly four times more likely to be caring for a spouse or partner. Some studies show 36 percent of female caregivers perform the most difficult caregiving tasks, such as bathing, toileting and dressing, compared to 24 percent of male caregivers. Men, some studies find, are more likely to help with finances, arrangement of care and other tasks that, while important, are less physically burdensome. Forty percent of male caregivers were found to use paid assistance for a loved one’s personal care.

MARTHA EVANS SPARKS

Martha Evans Sparks is a Staff Writer for Living Well 60+ Magazine

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