Elders Just Want to Have Fun!
The elderly need care but they need more. They need fun in their lives, something to look forward to and anticipate. What is fun?
“Fun is the intense enjoyment you feel when doing a voluntary activity that offers a consuming sense of positive engagement. Sometimes, it’s the result of being free to play without expectations or the pressure of potential consequences, much like children do.”https://www.greatseniorliving.com/articles/fun-activities-for-seniors
We all know physical exercise is important for seniors. The above article goes on to say, “Fun has benefits too. It, releases endorphins, improves cognition, improves mood, improves or mends relationships and boosts the immune system.”
How can we help our parents have some fun? It isn’t hard, they just want some of our time and attention. We help with bathing, dressing, hygiene, food, and medicines but there’s not a lot of joy in those activities. Mom follows her baseball team with zeal. Dad get pleasure from reading and Amateur Radio. Those are nice diversions but real joy come when family and friends are all together.
My parents had a fun weekend this July Fourth. Their great-grandchildren were first-rate entertainment. The grandchildren made them feel special and loved. Who doesn’t like large family meals with lots of laughing, joking, and funny stories? Yes, there’s an occasional bit of drama. It wouldn’t be real without it.
Dad got to sit in the sun and watch the kids swim. Well, not just swim, they capered. Who can make the biggest splash jumping in? Who can do a handstand in the water the longest? Can we synchronize a jump in the water at the same time? Of course there is a lot of, “You knocked me over, let’s try again”, “Wait, I wasn’t ready. We need to do it over.” “Everyone with the same last name needs to get in the water at the same time.” All silly things that are fun, funny and strengthen the family bond.
We made homemade ice cream. (Yay! I passed the vanilla test this time. Memories Are Your Heritage–Be Their Keeper) We grilled. We made s’mores–and have the mosquito bites to prove it. The look on my dad’s face when our grandson told him he got to drive the tractor was priceless. It’s hard to describe. The best I can say is, it was a mixture of incredulousness, surprise and pride all mixed together in one look. My mom laughed at our granddaughter’s excitement when she caught a fish. My dad taught our grandson how to build his super-duper paper airplanes. (I videoed that and will share it in another post–right after I learn how, because apparently I have to figure out how to post it to YouTube first.)
I asked each parent separately, “What was your favorite part of the weekend?” They both said, “Just being with [the kids], hearing what they’re doing and spending time together.” It was fun to listen to my mom giggle, “JJ (great-granddaughter) wants to be grandpa’s doctor.” The fact that she could appreciate the irony in knowing JJ is 7 and Grandpa 93 in a few weeks gave me a glimpse of her old sense of humor. My dad spoke to me in an aside, “You know that J (great-grandson) is really smart. He asks me questions about complicated things and was reading my Popular Mechanics Magazine. He borrowed my old ones to take home.” He’s thrilled J’s interests are in common with his own. I’m sure he’s still secretly hoping one of his progeny will become an engineer.
You know it’s really not hard. That’s what the elderly want most from us–just ourselves and some time.
I hope your holiday was and is fun and added to the joy-filled moments in your memory bank.