The Need to Have
When youíre caught up in the worries and demands of taking care
of a loved one, itís easy to overlook how important it is for your
care-receiver to do something enjoyable. No matter how old we are,
our emotional health depends a great deal on fun. Pleasurable
activities are especially important when illness, depression, and
grief dampen our spirits. Unfortunately, sometimes when we need
those good times the most, theyíre the first things we eliminate.
Finding and suggesting something that will be enjoyable for
your care-receiver isnít always easy. It can take imagination,
These are some suggestions:
--Ask your loved one what he or she would like to do for
fun. Itís important to ask, but realize that your question might
be met with a less-than-enthusiastic response. When weíre out of
practice, having fun can seem like a foolish idea. Whatever idea you
come up with, no matter how great it may be, it could take quite a
bit of persuasion over an extended period before your care-receiver
is willing to give it a shot.
--Generate some ideas. What did your spouse used to like
to do? Travel? Collect? Play sports? Read? Listen to music? What was
her ideal vacation? What were her plans when she first retired?
Obviously the time to do some of those things has passed. She wonít
be touring Europe. She may not be up to attending plays at the local
college. The challenge, then, is to find another way for your
care-receiver to continue to enjoy what has interested her.
--Gently encourage and help. If Dad used to love to go
to museums, find out what art books and videos are available at the
library. Keep an eye out for television programs that are going to
feature an artist whose work she especially admires. If itís going
to be broadcast at an inconvenient time, record it.
--Do it together. Go through the book or watch the tape
with your loved one. This is especially important. The point
is not for you to hand her a book or put in a DVD and then
disappear. The point is for the two of you to talk about what you
see. For that thirty minutes or hour, your care-receiver once again
can become an amateur art critic. She can enjoy a pastime that gave
her so much pleasure when she was younger. And she can share that
--Be creative. If your husband loved to read murder
mysteries, read one out loud to him for fifteen or twenty minutes
several times throughout the day. If he was an avid sports fan, make
a point of being there with him to watch some games on television.
(ďGoĒ to the Super Bowl together.) Make a friendly wager. If his
diet will allow it, serve a halftime meal of hot dogs and beer.
Decorating the room with sports paraphernalia will add to the
--Do it often. Put fun on the schedule. Finding
something enjoyable you two can do together on a daily or weekly
basis, and then sticking to a schedule, will give your loved one
something to look forward to.
--Yes, itís corny, but donít let that get in the way of your
fun. A lot of what ends up being fun can seem corny in the
beginning. It might be silly, but it could also be just what you and
your care-receiver need to forget about those worries and demands
for a time and simply enjoy each otherís company.
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