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Planning Fun With an Elderly Parent

Caregiving can be so all-consuming that we do not plan any downtime with our elderly parent.  In fact, the thought of doing one more thing may be just too much. Because of this we may miss some golden opportunities to make caregiving more enjoyable and leave us with memories that have tremendous value.

In this issue we list fun and rewarding activities you can do in each of the most common caregiving situations we have listed below.

Enjoyable activities require a well-rested caregiver.  If you do nothing but work, any extra activity will feel like a burden, and what may have been pleasurable will lose all appeal.  Take a step back and evaluate how you spend your week.  Off-load any tasks that can be accomplished by others, attempting to create a little bit of space in your schedule for you alone, plus space for you and your parent.

Next, take an hour to do something pleasurable each day that you are with your parent .  Ideas by ability level are listed below. (The simplest activities will work for any ability level.)

Parent type: Bed-bound with memory loss

  • Looking at old photographs or pictures of the early times of their life
  • Listen to an audiobook together
  • Play music from their early life

Parent type:  Home-bound in a wheelchair with good memory

  • Card games
  • Board games
  • Walks around the neighborhood
  • Automobile rides to familiar places

Parent type:  Walks slowly with some memory loss

  • Schedule a visit with a friend and take your parent
  • Take them to a small grocery store to pick out fruit or a treat
  • Visit a park, sit on a park bench and watch children play
  • Bring the grandchildren and draw together
  • Make a scrapbook with old pictures
  • Go to lunch at a quiet bistro with a pleasant view

Parent type:  Active with good memory

This parent will tell you what they want to do.  Do it, and be grateful that they are so healthy!
If you need suggestions:

  • Take a small excursion together
  • Go to dinner, movies, plays
  • Plan and take a vacation
  • Have family board game nights
  • Play cards
  • Have your parent teach you a skill they possess that you do not

I have given you a few ideas, but there are many more.  The most important thing is that you enjoy your time with your parent in addition to your duties as caregiver.  Life is short!