“I never thought being old would be this boring”
That was a comment I heard during a recent visit with an elderly woman living alone in her home. Boredom is not just uncomfortable for seniors, it can cause one to mentally go downhill faster! A sense of boredom, and a lack of meaning and direction in life can actually put anyone at increased risk for depression. The June 19, 2003 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine released results of a five-year study that found seniors who regularly joined in mentally-stimulating activities enjoyed a reduced risk of dementia. Don’t mistake someone’s love of peace and quiet as the idea that they love boredom!
Often times the people you have cared for have led full and productive lives and they now find themselves in a new season. Whether due to age or illness, they’re having to find a new direction for their energies. Men who have found a majority of their meaning from their life’s work, are particularly at high risk. Women, who tend to find more of their meaning in relationships, tend to fair better as relationships last past retirement.
The good news is, people can continue to grow and take up new interests throughout life. On the other hand, people tend to age as they lived. The reserved accountant who had a small circle of close friends, will probably not want to go out to the senior center to play bridge. Unlike the extroverted social type, who has always loved to be around people. Less social people still need interaction with those they love and who support them. Family get-togethers are always a great way to engage seniors!
Fun things to try for people that can still get out and about!
Take them out to a new restaurant. Something different is more memorable, even if you don’t love it!
Take them to an antique store. This will often bring up all kinds of recollections and fascinating conversations.
Check out your local senior center. One of our current clients loves to dance; the senior center creates wonderful opportunities for the right kind of seniors. Our local senior center even offers day trips that are affordable and make opportunities to make friends and memories. Check out what is offered in our area: https://yakimaparks.com/senior-center/
Attend local farmers markets. These are a chance to meet those who grow the food and to join in the community fun! There is often live music and all kids of vendors. There are limited places to sit so if your elder tires easily, bring a chair. http://yakimafarmersmarket.org
For those who love sports, you could become an umpire or referee. Often parks and recreation needs refs and some positions even pay!
Join the Theatre! This is not for those who have limited energy, but a great place for some to connect! https://www.warehousetheatrecompany.org
Become a tutor. Local schools, libraries and community services love to have senior volunteers!
For those who have less energy or can’t get around as well.
Social Media! It’s not just for young people! Facebook has become the family reunion that doesn’t stop for some families. The format allows people to stay connected even around the world.
Scrapbooks and memory books. A great way to connect with older family members it to get together and talk about the past.
Make a family cookbook. Gather all those old family recipes so that your grandchildren can enjoy a taste of home, even years from now!
So, get out there, make a memory with someone you love!