See also: Kittens Help Memory Loss Patients Find Joy as originally seen on ABC News
Loneliness and boredom are common ailments of the elderly as they become isolated from the community because of physical decline. These also lead to depression, which quickens the physical decline as the person has even less energy to put into searching out activities. The solution: we bring activities to them that provide mutual benefit to the community, such as the ones above: assisting with child care, fostering kittens and providing a home for college students
I love these programs so much! The common theme amongst them I think is best summed up in the first video: “Everyone has common needs: to be loved, to share life together.” The elderly in their depression often feel as if they have no purpose. These programs provide them with a purpose.
Another program that I’ve utilized in my therapy sessions before is gardening. Many elderly enjoy caring for plants. So I’ve had some patients assist me in re-potting my plants before (really they taught me) and I got in touch with my inner OT. It can be a multi-day project too. On day one, we went walking outside searching for rocks to put in the bottom of the pot. Then on day two, we did the transfer of the plant. The hospital has a raised mobile plant bed on wheels. The OTs will do a gardening project with it in the spring– select some flowers and fill up the container– and then have the patients care for the plants– water, weed and feed them– as the year goes on. Then replant in the spring.
As Thanksgiving approaches, at least call your elderly family and if possible visit them in person. The Holiday Season can be very lonely for folks that can’t be out and about. Consider taking a care basket or something similar to any elderly neighbors, church members, etc. in your life. They will absolutely love you. Who couldn’t use a few extra adopted grandparents?
And speaking of Thanksgiving, I’ll be taking the week off from the blog. Try not to miss me too much. Enjoy your family!