Are you a family caregiver looking to cheer up your aging mom or dad? It’s common for seniors to feel stressed, anxious, lonely, and even depressed. Financial woes, social isolation, losing the ability to drive, even hearing loss can contribute to feelings of depression and anxiety. And the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that rates of senior depression increase when chronic illness or some other medical ailment requires a hospital stay or home health visits too.
Don’t miss this quick guide to easy ways to cheer up your aging parent:
Promote Their Independence
If a blow to self-confidence has taken a toll because illness or accident has stripped your aging loved one of their ability to tend to daily living tasks on their own, you may want to look into assistive devices and tools. For example, easy-grip equipment for meals can simplify dining for a senior who experiences tremors, limited dexterity, or hand weakness due to conditions like arthritis.
Dressing aids including shoe horns, button hooks, zipper pulls, and dressing sticks can likewise empower a senior to be able to get dressed without help, a hallmark characteristic of independence. Being able to care for oneself promotes self-reliance and can be just the mood booster your mom or dad needs.
Listen to Music (and Dance)
Research has shown that few things light up key areas of the brain quite like music. Music has been shown to evoke memory, promote attentiveness, and relieve stress, whether it’s listening to calming classical meditations or turning up the volume on throwback hits from the 50s and 60s.
Make music a routine part of your loved one’s day and if you don’t have a CD player, try free apps like Youtube, Spotify, or Pandora to make playlists based on the musical genre or artists your aging parent enjoys. When possible, invite your mom or dad up for a little dance; it’s great exercise and a surefire way to help shift negative thoughts to positive actions.
If your aging parent is struggling with finding a sense of purpose amidst health challenges, consider asking them to volunteer with you. Helping others and giving back not only increases social interaction for your loved one but can bolster their inner confidence and mood too.
If mom or dad is unable to join you at a volunteer event like helping out at the food bank or animal shelter, find ways that they can still lend a hand from home. Perhaps they can help you bake cookies for the local fire station, pot plants to donate to a women and children’s shelter, or put together gallon Ziplock bags of water, socks, toiletries, and snacks for the homeless.
Play Games and Puzzles
Oftentimes a bad mood is simply a symptom of boredom. For seniors with mobility issues or chronic illness especially, being unable to get out and about as they once did can affect their entire outlook on life. Games and puzzles that aren’t too challenging but don’t patronize your mom or dad either are a great way to engage the mind, spend time together, and offer an alternative to sitting and watching television. Some game ideas include:
- Crossword puzzles
- 500 or 1000-piece puzzles
- Card games
Ask Them for a Story
It’s so easy to get caught up in the caregiving hubbub of helping your aging parent with their medicines, appointments, finances, meals, and more. Stopping to just listen to them and hear stories they have to tell sends a message that you value the wisdom and experience they have to offer from their many years.
Ask questions about their childhood and earlier life, look through old photo albums together, or even help them record stories either in a video or an audio recording on your smartphone.