Posted by: wrcseniorservices | September 8, 2010

Still the Same

Being elderly doesn’t mean you stop being the person you are. However, physical or mental limitations may make it difficult to enjoy the same hobbies. If you are a caregiver, have you ever wondered if your loved one was suffering from depression? Imagine if the things you are most passionate in life about disappeared. How would you cope?

Two causes of depression are social isolation and a loss of a sense of purpose in life. You might not stop being who you are on the inside, but how do you reconcile that person on the outside?

As a caregiver, try to get creative and think of ways that your loved one could still enjoy the things they’ve always loved. A few examples. Perhaps, they enjoyed crossword puzzles but have trouble seeing them now. Buy a full page magnifier or get a large print edition. You can find these (and other great games for the elderly) at the Senior Store. If the problem is writing, try computer crossword puzzles. They may find it easier to type.

Perhaps they were an avid gardener. There are a variety of gardening tools designed for the elderly that are more lightweight and have a longer reach. I found a pretty comprehensive store at Wright Stuff. In addition to tools, the design of the garden can help. For more information about gardening for the elderly, check out MDA online.

Dick Myers plays for his fellow residents

If you get creative, you can find a way to adapt most hobbies. We do this at WRC Senior Services. When Dick Myers moved to Laurelbrooke Assisted Living, he struggled with the transition until he found he could still enjoy the same hobbies in a new way. Dick was a gardener. Now he cares for the potted flowers growing at our entrance. They’ve never looked more beautiful! He also spent over 60 years playing the piano in church. Now he plays for his fellow residents and the residents in our memory support neighborhood. As I watch him play, I can see the joy it brings him as well as his listeners.

Laurels resident Ted Beniades had a big adjustment to make at retirement. He spent over 40 years in show business on Broadway, stage, TV and movies. How do you still enjoy that passion? I began talking to Ted about my love for theater. I am part of the Clarion Community Theater group.

For our most recent show Agatha Christie’s “And Then There Were None,” I realized I had a chance to get Ted involved again in something he loved. We needed a voiceover that would play on a gramophone during the show. He wouldn’t have to be at all the performances or the practices.

Ted Beniades stands beside his younger self in a Ragu commercial

I told him what I was thinking, and he jumped on board. I took a script over and spent some time telling him about the show and his character. He was back in the game, and I could see the sparkle in his eyes. We spread sound equipment all over his living room and got to work, laughing and joking amidst serious work. It was wonderful, and his voiceover was fantastic!

He came out to watch the show twice, and we introduced him to the audience who responded with resounding cheers. I was so glad that we were able to think of a way to help him be the person he never stopped being – a star.

What can you do today to help your loved one still be who they are in spite of how their life has changed?

Written by Dawn Wise, Marketing and Communications Manager
dwise@wrc.org

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