Does your mom seem a little blue almost every time you talk to her? Is your dad spending a lot of time alone, watching television or staring out the window? If your parent or another loved one is feeling depressed, there is something you can do about it! Numerous studies show recreational and physical activity can reduce the incidence of depression—and even symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease. A 2017 study by Dr. Yonas Geda at Mayo Clinic shows that social activities, including crafts and games, can significantly decrease the risk of mild cognitive impairment in the early stages.
If loved one lives alone, however, getting them involved in group activities isn’t easy if you work and they cannot drive. However, care communities offer numerous activities in communal settings, so transportation won’t be an issue. Activities may include exercise classes, art, music, social gatherings and intergenerational programs to bring residents together with children and youth. Regularly scheduled transportation is often provided to restaurants, shopping and events.
If your loved one is not in an assisted living community, he or she might frequent a local senior center offering activities and social opportunities. You may be able to arrange transportation with a friend or sibling. You may also want to investigate adult day services, which offer numerous activities daily. Other ideas to combat isolation include the following:
- Promote healthy nutrition by encouraging loved ones to eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, and proteins.
- Hire extra help. Weekly visits from a home health aide can bring companionship as well as assistance and support.
- Explore massage, meditation or aromatherapy. Alternative therapies can be enjoyable and healing.
- Exercise classes tailored to older adults can help them gain strength and balancing skills. Strengthening the body will not only help prevent falls; it’s been proven to help with mood and outlook, too.
- Explore technology. Video chats can help people stay connected. Virtual assistants like Alexa can provide gentle reminders and companionship.
- Classes stimulate the mind and spark new possibilities. Assisted living communities create opportunities for people to discover new activities or skills.
While loss and transitions can lead to isolation and depression, the right combination of activities, healthy nutrition and friendships can brighten a loved one’s life.