Community activity resources help an older parent stay engaged in everyday life.
From a distance, making sure an older parent does not become isolated, is difficult. They may experience many changes in abilities which can lead to decreased socialization and loss of community contacts.
If you are a long-distance caregiver, (or caregiver that is close-by), there are some community resources to explore to help your parent stay engaged in everyday life. Using the internet makes it easier to connect to these sources so take advantage of reading websites and using telephone or e-mail to contact them.
Consider these options to help an older parent stay active:
- Church-Many churches have various programs that try to meet the needs of their congregation. Besides church services offered many have volunteer opportunities, classes to learn about their faith, programs for faith practices, outings, etc… Contact church offices to talk about outreach to a loved one including visit from clergy or lay-person, arranging for transportation to church service, or how to keep your loved one involved in their faith community.
- Library-Libraries have numerous programs especially those in bigger cities. Look at a library’s website for everything from reading or listening to audio books, to book clubs, to volunteering, to zinio for libraries, and classes. Too numerous to mention here, take advantage of some of a libraries opportunities for your older family member or friend.
- Recreation or senior centers-I have visited some great recreation and senior centers which are dedicated to bringing specialized programs to older adults. There are programs to meet physical, creative, social, recreational, and intellectual needs. They not only offer trips, but opportunities for volunteering and learning. Try to get your loved one involved if you can.
- Volunteer organizations-Has your older family member or friend always had the need to be helpful? Have they volunteered in the past? Is it important to her to give back? To some people, volunteering is very important. It can give a sense of accomplishment, fulfill a need to give back, and make her feel needed. Look into an organization that is important to your loved one and see if they need help. Make sure it is a successful fit for both the organization and your older family member/friend. You don’t want the experience to overwhelm, but help her feel good.
- Meal deliveries or Senior Meals-Contact the local Area Agency on Aging to locate meal delivery services. Also check their city’s website for senior resources. Even meal deliveries provide some socialization from the person delivering. Places who serve senior meals, such as senior centers, offer socialization and activities for seniors.
- Companion services-There are many companies that offer home services for older persons. Check out websites and try, if possible, to get references from others. Companions can offer friendship, help out into the community and assistance at home. Also check out your local city and county organizations that aim to help seniors. They are continuously popping up all over.
- Transportation services-Check your loved ones city website and look under senior resources. They may have transportation for a minimal fee. There are also small companies aimed at transporting seniors.
- Community technology sources-Places like libraries and senior centers have computers available for public use. Also if your loved one has a tablet or laptop, but no wi-fi, many places now have free wi-fi to connect to. My mom received a tablet for Christmas and I am planning on taking her to her senior center to show her how to connect to their wi-fi and where she can also connect with her sister who lives in another state. Many senior centers now offer classes on how to use computers, e-mail, internet searching, social networking, and smart phones, etc… If your loved one loves to stay connected you may try out these sources.
- Member of an organization-If your older family member or friend has been involved in an organization, continuing that membership may be important to them. Contact the organization for support for your loved one.
- Maintaining friendships-Help your older family member or friend to stay connected with friends. Contact the friend to share what might be needed by your loved one. The friend may not realize that your loved one is becoming isolated. Ask the friend to call, make visits, or go out to eat. (Consider providing a gift card to a restaurant.) The important thing is to keep in touch with their friends.
- Other options-Of course there are places like movie theaters, restaurants, ceramic and painting shops, golf courses, bowling, and other places to consider. Brainstorm with other family members what your senior would enjoy.