When we prepare for our retirement and old age, we worry about things like money, future living situation, kids, grand kids, friends etc. What many of us forget to take into account is how boring life age can become. In our older age, kids are busy in their own lives and our friends live in different parts of the city or country. Slowly, boredom and loneliness creep in. With in-home care, there are daily interactions between the caregiver and the patient and this somewhat alleviates the boredom. But slowly, caregiving also falls into a routine and we are back to square one. However, we can prevent this mind-numbing boredom with help of companionship and spontaneity in our lives.
With July being the National Anti-Boredom month, let’s take a look at some solutions which will remove boredom for both the caregiver and the patient:
1. Get a pet:
Pets are a wonderful source of companionship, whether it is for the caregiver or the patient. They bring fun and joy in our lives. Playing with them is so entertaining and if it works for you, you can also take them out for walks. Dogs are amazingly loyal and social and will always be there with you. If you prefer a little more solitude, cats will be a good choice for you. They are very low maintenance pets who prefer to wander and give space to their humans.
2. Try gardening:
Gardening doesn’t always means being out in the garden, on your knees with your hands in the dirt. You can always get some potted plants indoors or on window sills and look after them as they grow. Watching something grow (like plants, pets or kids) and taking care of it is a very emotionally rewarding experience. Both patient and caregiver can take part in this and watch the plants grow.
3. Video Games:
Video games are exciting and provide a stimulating experience to our brains. In the past decades, these games have made impressive progress. Most of these games can now be played while sitting or lying down. You can play them alone or with partners. Try games from Wii, Nintendo, PSP, X Box etc. These games are not only fun, they give you a sense of achievement, exercise your motor skills, and stimulate your brain.
4. Internet is a wonderful thing:
Internet, one of the most useful inventions ever, is a wonderful thing. It can open the doors of a whole new universe for you. You can watch interesting or funny videos on YouTube, TV shows and movies on Netflix, use sites like Reddit, StumbleUpon to discover new things etc. If you feel uncomfortable in using a desktop or a laptop, I would suggest trying an iPad or any similar tablet. They are lightweight and easy to hold and you can surf the internet with ease. Both the patient and the caregiver can keep themselves entertained on the internet.
5. Learn a new language:
To avoid boredom, it is important to stimulate our minds. Learning new things is an excellent way to do this. When you are older or caring for an elderly person, learning a new language is a great option as it doesn’t requires physical exertion. You can use websites like Duolingo and iTalki to learn new languages for free.
6. Start a book club:
This is a great way to regularly meet up with your friends and loved ones. You can organize a biweekly or monthly book club meeting, where the members of the club meet at a fixed spot and discuss books, stories etc. You can meet at each other’s house, in parks, in cafes etc. Through book club meetings, you catch up with your friends, see them on a regular basis and get to read some new books which keeps your mind engaged.
7. Bird Sanctuary in your backyard:
The caregiver and the patient can work together to set up a small sanctuary for birds in the backyard. You will need things like feeder, birdbath, and a shelter where they can escape to in case of storms, cats etc. Once the birds start coming in, you can sit back and watch them through the windows. Bird watching is a very relaxing hobby. You can also take pictures of birds to identify their breed. It’s a fun way to spend time.
8. Puzzles and crosswords:
Activities which stimulate our brains are a great way to keep boredom at bay. Solving puzzles and crosswords are good examples of such activities. The caregiver or the patient can buy some puzzles and then they can try to solve it together. Same goes for the crosswords published in newspapers and magazines.
Getting older has one huge benefit. You now have lots of stories to tell! These stories are experiences and knowledge you have acquired over the years and it would be a shame to let it all go to waste. You can try journaling to write down your thoughts, your feelings, your experiences and your stories.