Emma Banks is a a wife, mother, and one of the primary caretakers of her widowed father. She was kind enough to offer to write an article advising other caretakers. Hope you enjoy her writing.
Fun for Seniors
As we’re all getting older, our parents are aging as well, and their lives, like ours, are changing in monumental ways. I just got married three years ago, and my mother passed away two years later. It’s been extremely hard on everyone, including my brother and I, but it’s been especially rough for my father. He’s been struggling to adjust to life on his own, without his best friend, and I’m doing everything I can to keep him engaged with everyday life. My brother lives out of state, so it’s just me and my dad now. Here are some of the fun activities I’ve been trying to set him up with in his new ‘senior citizen’ life (he hates to be called that!).
My dad has always been big on exercise. He loves the outdoors, so I try to spend a lot of time with him outside whenever I can. We go on long walks together as often as possible. He was also big on biking when he was younger. My dad was the king of mountain biking, and would explore all kinds of trails wherever he went. That’s why when his birthday rolled around this year, I picked up an exercise bike for him! He keeps it in the den and uses it all the time, watching TV or reading a book or magazine while he cycles. It’s great for keeping him in shape—since staying active has always been so important to him, it was definitely something he wanted to keep in his life, even as he ages!
You may think I’m crazy, but I also set my dad up on Facebook recently. Yes, it’s true—Facebook is getting more popular with senior citizens. How do you ‘Like’ that? My dad loves it! He has reconnected with tons of his high school buddies from the rugby team, plus tons of his fraternity brothers from Dartmouth. My dad is pretty tech-savvy, but even if your parent is not, Facebook is user friendly and easy to learn! It’s an exciting tool seniors can use to stay in touch and keep some kind of social interaction going. Definitely worth a shot!
My mother always did most of the cooking, but recently, my dad has been trying to pick up a few tips and tricks so he can cook for himself! I’ve actually signed him up for cooking classes, too, at the local senior center. They offer some basic introductory courses to teach older folks simply, easy-to-make meals. It’s certainly an adjustment cooking for one—I remember having to do that when I first got my own apartment, and it was tough! I also go over to his house as much as I can to help him out with meals. Cooking is always more fun together! I also help him by delivering groceries making sure that he has a nice variety of snack, food for meals, and some treats for now and then.
Being a senior citizen (or having an elder parent!) doesn’t have to be scary. It can certainly be lonely and isolating at first, but there are ways to combat that. Between exercise, socializing, and staying healthy, your elder parent can definitely live a good life! Whether it’s an exercise bike or a group exercise class, making a Facebook account or joining a church group or poker-playing group, there are plenty of ways to fill their time and make things fun as a senior citizen. Plus, don’t forget the senior citizen discount! That’s why I love shopping and going out with my dad.